viola davis *As an Oscar nominee life has been good for Viola Davis.

Despite her good fortune however, the actress grew up in surroundings that were anything but luxurious.

“I was one of those kids who grew up hungry. I’m 48 years old now, and it’s only been recently that I can admit that I would jump in trash bins looking for food and I would steal from the corner store because I was hungry,” Davis says in this week’s issue of People magazine. “I would fall asleep in school on a daily basis because we had nothing.”

Davis’ struggle affected her interaction with other students in school as she admitted that she never had friends over because “my house was a condemned building – it was boarded up and infested with rats.”

Fortunately, Davis overcame her circumstances. The entertainer, who has partnered with the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, is spearheading the campaign for hunger is to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger.

“We have an image of hunger that comes from Africa, but this is America. And unless your belly is distended we don’t have an image of what hunger looks like here,” Davis told People as she credited food programs like Hunger Is with putting her on the path to achieving her dreams and goals.

“I am the first generation of my family to go to college. Those programs made all the difference for me. It’s been cathartic for me because I always had a lot of shame with going in the garbage dumps that had maggots in it, too. It has brought healing in my life to be able to talk about it.”

For more of Viola Davis’ interview, check out the latest issue of People, which is currently available on newsstands.