Viola Davis feared she was "too big" and "too black" to find success in the arts.

The 57-year-old actress is one of the biggest stars in the movie industry - but Viola still remembers doubting herself during her time at The Juilliard School, a performing arts conservatory in New York City.

She shared: "I felt I came in with a wrong palette. I was too big. I was too black. My voice was too deep."

Viola's career was transformed when she visited Gambia in the 90s.

The acclaimed actress was watching a performance by the kaneleng – an association of childless women – and it proved to be a career-defining moment for her.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Viola explained: "They were just screaming, not even with any objective of singing beautifully. It was the objective of just making noise, so God can hear it."

The incident prompted Viola to look at acting in a different light.

She said: "If I don’t start with the palette of what is Viola, then I’m doing absolutely nothing. Whether or not it’s received by the masses, I cannot control. But I can control that."

Despite this, Viola previously admitted that luck has played a part in her success.

The Hollywood star has managed to claw her way out of poverty - and she still struggles to explain her own success.

Asked how she managed to transform her life, Viola replied: "A huge part of it is that unexplained phenomena which is luck and blessings.

"But I found something that I really, really loved to do and I did it constantly. I did it to the best of my ability. I rode that horse. What I had, when I didn't have confidence even when I didn't have self love, what I had was drive.

"You find the joy, and the joy stomps out all the pain."