Viola Davis has insisted that acting does not define her life.

Viola Davis on writing her new book

Viola Davis on writing her new book

The 56-year-old actress - who is married to theatre producer Julius Tennon and has 11-year-old daughter Genesis with him - admitted that while she thought her craft was always the main factor of her life, it was only when she sat down to write an autobiography that she realised she had been "hiding a huge part of [her] story" from the world.

She said: "I always thought acting defined my life, and it doesn't. What people in the world tell you is that if you find that thing that you do, that you are great at, then that's it. And you have money in the bank, and you have a house, and you have a cute husband, and he loves you and your kid, that's it. And it's not. I was still hiding a huge part of my story."

The Academy Award-winning star went on to explain that by writing her memoir - which is due out later this month - she was able to "reinvent things" and look at the past in a different way.

She told PEOPLE: "It's almost like I reinvented all the things that I wanted to and tossed away the rest of it. You know when you look at pictures down memory lane, and you see it differently. I'm looking at little Viola, and I see how strong she was and how she was just a spitfire. I think that's why I wrote the book, that if I somehow explored it, unpacked those memories, resolving them, that somehow I could find my peace.."

Viola - who is next set to star as Michelle Obama in the title role of Showtime series 'The First Lady' - claimed that while finishing the book felt "great" it was also "terrifying" because in doing so she has risked criticism.

She said: "[Finishing it] made me feel terrified but it was great. That's what happens when you just go out on the limb, and you live your truth, is that you risk exposure. You risk shame. You risk criticism. But boy, there is absolutely no other way to live."

'Finding Me' is set for release on April 26.