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Viola Davis Reveals Her Greatest Advice to Daughter Genesis, 13: ‘No One Ever Told Me That’

Viola Davis Reveals Her Greatest Advice to Daughter Genesis, 13: ‘No One Ever Told Me That’

As her daughter with Julius Tennon heads into her teen years, the Oscar winner shares a life lesson she's still living by today

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/aspictures/">Art Streiber</a></p> Viola Davis

Art Streiber

Viola Davis

Viola Davis is ready to pass down life lessons to her daughter.

As her 13-year old daughter with producer Julius Tennon moves into her teenage years, the Oscar — and EGOT — winner turns her gaze inward.

“What I tell my daughter right now is, 'Genesis, you are the love of your life,' ” Davis tells PEOPLE in an interview for the magazine's 50th anniversary special issue.

The Woman King star continues: “You have to start right now to have a radical love affair with yourself, to be in touch with your inner voice, what you like, what you don't like, what's crossing the boundaries, and you honor that. And through that, that is the seed where everything grows." 

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Related: Viola Davis on Moments That Changed Her Life, Embracing Her Story and Staying Real: 'I Need to Be Me'

<p>Robin L Marshall/Getty</p> Genesis Tennon and Viola Davis

Robin L Marshall/Getty

Genesis Tennon and Viola Davis

That kind of self-love is not something Davis was taught to prioritize growing up, she says.

“No one ever told me that. No one ever told me that I was the love of my life. I just counted myself out. If I have to be small in order to build up a relationship, I'll make myself small. If I have to sacrifice my needs for others — that's a big one for women, we are considered stronger when we sacrifice our needs. I said, 'Genesis, no, do not do that. You are the love of your life, you and you alone.' "

Davis, who recently wrapped filming her upcoming Amazon thriller G20 (produced with Tennon through their production company JuVee Productions), shares that same goal for herself in this chapter of her life.

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Related: Viola Davis and Husband Julius Tennon Smile with Daughter Genesis, 13, in Rare Family Photo on Easter

“Oh, man. I want to become the love of my life,” she says. “I feel that how you find meaning is you have to completely embrace your story. The number one regret of the dying is that they lived a life that was defined by everyone else and not themselves. [I’m] trying to live my life on my terms — everything. And dare to do that, even if it looks messy on the outside. I want to belong to myself.”

Davis and Tennon have been together for two decades after meeting on the set of the CBS series City of Angels in 1999. The family made a rare public appearance with Genesis in October when Davis walked the Le Défilé L'Oréal - Walk Your Worth show at the Eiffel Tower.

But outside of the spotlight, Davis rejects the pressure to appear perfect.

"I go to the supermarket a lot with just a wrap on my head, no makeup," she says. "One time I got in the car and I forgot to put shoes on. I had my household slippers on. And I got to the supermarket and I thought, 'Should I go back home and put on shoes?' I walked in with my slippers. I need to be me.”

For more on our 50th Anniversary, check out our special digital issue, and pick up a star-studded copy of PEOPLE, on newsstands April 12.

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Read the original article on People.