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Viola Davis Welcomes Controversy Around New Movie

Viola Davis’ anticipated film “Won’t Back Down” features the Oscar nominee as a concerned parent pushing to make changes in the local public school system. While the plot line and previews have the makings for an updated version of “Lean On Me,” not everyone is excited about the movie’s release. During Sunday night’s Hollywood premiere at Ziegfeld Theatre, protesters showed up along the red carpet with loud chants and signs like, “Won’t Back Down get out of town.”

Protesters are upset at the portrayal of teacher’s unions in the film, and argue that charter schools are not the answer to poor and failing public schools in America. They’re also calling for corporations to invest in public schools as opposed to charter schools as an alternative.

When appearing on the TODAY show Monday morning Davis applauded the courageousness yet addressed the protesters, stating, “I welcome protests. I welcome discourse; I think discourse is a good thing. I think it spearheads change…. And you know what, in this movie the teacher at the end of the day is the hero. They save the day. And it’s a system that’s broken, that needs to be fixed.”

Davis hopes the activists and protesters understand that cast and crew were in no way aiming to be disrespectful. Film director Daniel Barnz addressed protesters as well, encouraging them to view the film before making a decision, as “it encourages the coming together of both sides.”

“Won’t Back Down” hits theaters nationwide September 28, starring Oscar nominees Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal as unsatisfied parents who become empowered and determined leaders when fighting a deteriorating public school.


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