Well. I saw this cover line and it made me tear up. Because we did make it. This year, this gauntlet of a grind, is nearly over, and I’m trying to be hopeful about what we have to show for it — but so much time has been stolen from us, and that is where I can’t yet see the end. My mom deserves a hug.

So, this cover is stark, and starkly emotional. It’s also just super. Viola Davis commands it with such authority, as she does everything — and that’s a sentence I wrote before I read the profile, in which Laura Brown does in fact discuss with her the concept of command, and how adeptly Viola wields it. Viola Davis is one of those people whose very presence gives off the aura of, “It’s going to be okay, even if we don’t know how yet.” Some celebs, you will just willingly read about in perpetuity. Viola is someone who’s gotten a lot of covers recently, and yet I never think, “Another one?” Because I am always interest in what she’s saying and how she’s saying it. She’s compelling on screen and off; she’s doling out food for thought, and this whole interview with Laura Brown is a buffet. This is a tiny sample:

LB: You’ve achieved your mainstream movie success as an adult. What are the benefits of success coming when you’re a grown-up?

VD: It was probably easier because I know what I want. I’ve been doing this for 33 years. I know what’s good and what’s bad. If it doesn’t shift people in some way, then it’s not a piece of art. The only way to achieve that as an actor is to study life. You can’t study another performer. What I have learned at my age is the courage to do that. How to Get Away with Murder was a perfect example. I could’ve lost 40 or 50 pounds. I could’ve worn a long, straight weave. But I decided to start with a palette that was me. Physically me. Age-wise me. My wrinkles. All of it. The fact that I had the courage to do that is a testament to how long I’ve been in the business. What I’ve seen, how often I’ve failed. How my heart has been broken time and time again.

Treat yourself to the whole interview, where there are also more pictures, some of which are fabulous. Her smile. Too much Viola Davis is never enough.

[Photos by AB + DM; the December issue of InStyle is available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download November 20]