Viola Davis says she was told she wasn’t “classically beautiful” enough to play romantic leads.

The ‘First Lady’ star revealed that casting directors

The 56-year-old actress told The New York Times that industry professionals told her she was “too dark” and “not classically beautiful” to take on the starring role in a romantic movie.

Viola faced similar criticism when she was cast as Annalise Keating in the Shonda Rhimes’ series ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ with people claiming she “wasn’t pretty enough to pull it off”.

Of the reaction, the ‘Fences’ star believes the reaction is the product of generations of “oppression and dehumanization”.

Viola told the newspaper: “I think our response as Black people — and I get it, from so many years of oppression and dehumanization — has been about putting images out there that are positive and likable and beautiful [but] that image and message shouldn’t be more important than the truth.”

The Emmy winner shared in her new memoir ‘Finding Me - which out on 26 April - mused that Hollywood is full of “gimmick” writing.

Viola wrote: “The TV and film business is saturated with people who think they’re writing something human when it’s really a gimmick. But if I took the wig off in a brutal, private moment and took off the makeup, it would force them to write for THAT woman.”

In the book, she criticised the “shameful” teaching methods at the prestigious drama school Juilliard, which he felt was trying to make her race “disappear”.

Viola wrote: “The absolute shameful objective of this training [at Juilliard] was clear — make every aspect of your Blackness disappear.“How the hell do I do that? And more importantly, WHY??!!!”