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'Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty. 'I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where the next meal was coming from.

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'I Stole And Dug Through Maggot-filled Garbage For Food': Actress Viola Davis Reveals Her Shocking Childhood Spent In Abject Poverty

October 12, 2014 - By Associated Press and Mia De Graaf for Daily Mail Online

* Viola Davis 'grew up in immense shame' in Central Falls, Rhode Island
* 49-year-old Tony winner and Oscar nominee 'stole food from garbage'
* She claims she befriended kids whose mothers cooked three meals a day
* Revealed she is 'only now' beginning the healing process

Viola Davis

Viola Davis told a crowd of Hollywood luminaries that she grew up in abject poverty, stealing and crawling through maggot-filled garbage bins to get food.

The 49-year-old Oscar-nominated actress is currently starring in ABC's flagship show How To Get Away With Murder.

But tonight she revealed it has taken her years to come to terms with the 'immense shame' she felt about her childhood in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

'I sacrificed a childhood for food,' she said, 'and grew up in immense shame.'

Viola Davis

Davis shared the personal story as she was made a Variety Power Of Women honoree for her work with the charity Hunger Is.

She told the audience: 'Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty.

'I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn't know where the next meal was coming from.

'And i did everything to get food.

Viola Davis
Viola Davis

'Everyone should grow up and have a chance at the American dream,' she said tonight.

'The stain in this country is that one out of every five children in this country are living in households that are food-poor.

'And of all the elementary school teachers out there they say three out of every five kids in their class come to school hungry. In the richest country in the world.'

Finally, she thanked her colleagues and supporters for the chance to 'stand up in front of so many people, at the age of 49, and share my testimony and begin the process of healing,' and urged people to join give either money or expertise to Hunger Is.

Hunger Is vows to tackle America's food poverty epidemic through education.

It was one of a number of charities recognized at the annual awards ceremony on Friday.

Other accolades at the Variety Power of Women luncheon went to Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lopez for their humanitarian efforts.

Witherspoon was recognized for her involvement with the Malala Fund, the educational advocacy organization established by Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Witherspoon said she was inspired by her daughter, Ava, to explore the state of girls' education around the world and learn about Malala's efforts.

Viola Davis
Maria Bello and Viola Davis
Viola Davis

Lopez said her namesake foundation was also inspired by her children.

Lopez said she and her sister, Lynda, started the Lopez Family Foundation when they were pregnant together in hopes of helping needy families receive high-quality health care.

Fonda is involved with various philanthropic programs, but she was honored Friday for creating the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential, which works to prevent teen pregnancy and inspire healthy lifestyles in that state.

Reese Witherspoon

'I grew up believing that service is the rent you pay for life,' Fonda said.

Other honorees included Universal Pictures chair Donna Langley, who works with Vital Voices, an international campaign that supports female community leaders; and Jessica Matthews, creator of the Soccket, a soccer ball that harnesses energy with play and becomes an off-grid power source.

Guests at the Lifetime-sponsored luncheon at the Beverly Hilton Hotel included Ryan Seacrest, Maria Bello, Allison Janney and Wild author Cheryl Strayed.

Viola Davis
Jane Fonda


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