How Viola Davis Uses Makeup to Overcome Her Introverted Side at Cannes

"I always have to resist the urge to not want to go home and be in my slippers."

Viola Davis at the Cannes Film festival wearing a green cape dress
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Throughout a decorated career scoring 245 total award nominations and 121 wins, EGOT-holder Viola Davis has walked hundreds of red carpets like the Cannes Film Festival's. Even with all her experience getting ready for the cameras and curious reporters, the 58-year-old actor reveals that putting herself out there isn't always easy. Davis tells me from the L'Oréal Paris suite at Hôtel Martinez in Cannes, "I always have to resist the urge to not want to go home and be in my slippers."

Davis has a relatable reason for wanting to skip the step-and-repeat at times. "Here's the thing: I'm introverted, which people don't know. I'm extremely introverted," she explains.

However, when showing up and showing out are job requirements, the Academy Award winner has a few secret weapons to overcome her introversion: the makeup in her beauty kit.

Viola Davis at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival closing ceremonies

Viola Davis attended the 2024 Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony in a black sequin gown with a white cape overlay.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Viola Davis at the 2023 cannes film festival wearing a one shoulder dress and a feathered coat

Last year, Viola Davis attended the Cannes premiere of Monster wearing Valentino Haute Couture and the beauty that makes her feel the most joyful.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Working with longtime makeup artist Autumn Moultrie and hairstylist Jamika Wilson, Davis says she's found beauty looks that can help tap into her more extroverted side. Her confidence-boosting look for her first day at Cannes this year started with glowy skin and glittery eyes, and ended with a red lip, channeling the '70s TV detective Christie Love played by Teresa Graves.

"There's a part of me that although I'm shy and I'm introverted, I am a Leo," Davis adds. "I like walking in the room and people seeing me [...] and I love eyes because I feel like that is an asset of mine."

Viola Davis arriving at Cannes in a LaDoubleJ sweatsuit

Davis arrived at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival with her signature lip already on—plus a short bob and a printed LaDoubleJ sweatsuit.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Acknowledging and accepting the sides of herself that aren't compatible with celebrity life is all part of Davis's current personal goal: to fall even more in love with who she is this year. The star says her self-love ritual takes many forms in her beauty and wellness routine, too. "It looks like Epsom salt baths, it looks like having a real great cleanser and putting oil on my face before I go to bed. It's about laughing with my 13-year-old daughter. It's about being okay with being still," she says.

In moments when life gets busy—like, say, preparing for one of the world's biggest film festivals—Davis is also learning to cherish every second for what it is. "I can be a chronic overthink and go, 'Oh, I wish this were different. I wish that was different.' I stopped doing that, and I have to say that it's working."

When Davis walks the official Cannes red carpet later today, she says she'll give herself permission to soak up every bit of glamour it brings. "Embracing my acceptance in this environment, it's sort of like embracing my worth," she adds. "What really carries me through this entire experience is feeling like I'm a part of it instead of disconnecting from it." The slippers at home can wait.

Shop Viola Davis's Cannes Beauty Go-Tos

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.