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Viola Davis on Health, Love, and Resilience

The actress reflects on her latest role (in "Won't Back Down"), the importance of self care, and the joys of becoming a mom later in life.

Viola Davis on Cooking, Friends, and Love

For all the richness of her life, one thing Davis lacks is enough time alone. To take care of herself, she carves out time to exercise or relax while Genesis is sleeping. "I definitely try to work out," she says. "I like zoning out and giving my brain a break because it's constantly in motion, and I find that exercise is the easiest way to do that."

If she's making a film, Davis goes to the gym and hops on the treadmill. In Los Angeles, she prefers to take walks in the hills behind her house. "If my husband is around, he makes me work harder and do weights," she says. Davis' other favorite indulgence is sneaking away to a day spa for a massage. "And I love, love, love Jacuzzis -- late at night because that's the only time I have where I can read."

Her favorite way to relax is just hanging out at home with her husband, daughter, and friends. Lots of friends. "We love to cook, and we have gatherings at our house all the time," she says. "I just love anything that makes me feel normal and boring! We usually invite about 50 people with their kids, and we sit around and eat and talk. My husband is from Texas, so he's great at barbecue. We cook a lot of Southern food, both fattening and healthy."

One of Davis' proudest accomplishments is learning to cook Thanksgiving dinner. "We did it for the first time when we had just had Genesis," she says. "We invited 20 people, and they stayed all night and we loved it."

In these domestic moments, Davis is able to celebrate all that she's achieved and how far she has come. "I think the biggest thing is the past doesn't define who you are," she says. "And you're bigger than any circumstance in your path. Life is going to continue being what it is, and the only thing you have the power to change is how you approach it -- in spirit, in faith, and in love."

Viola's Time-Out

Any working woman is hard-pressed to find enough "me" time. Add a child to the mix, and the task can become next to impossible. As Viola Davis prepares to celebrate her daughter's first birthday, she shares her self-restoration secrets.

Get a massage. Davis' biggest luxury is squeezing in a massage. "Sometimes, you need some pampering, and you can't always do it for yourself!"

Work it out. Whether she's walking or hitting the treadmill at the gym, Davis makes sure to exercise regularly. "I still gain weight, but for me, it's the easiest way just to zone out."

Share the wealth. After growing up in a home where she felt too ashamed to invite her friends over, Davis relishes having company. "I love people coming into the house and cooking for them," she says. "It makes me feel like I'm really at home."

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