- “I specifically said "drop old coats at my house, not 'commodes'!”
- ―while sobbing from seeing the toilets on her front yard.
Hilly Holbrook is the main antagonist from the 2009 book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and its 2011 film adaptation of the same name.
In the film, she was portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard, who also portrayed Victoria.
Hilly clearly sees herself as a morally upstanding righteous member of Jackson, Mississippi; an area widely regarded for its civil rights issues in the 1960s. While the Skeeter is out there trying to change the world for the better, Hilly is keeping Jackson in the dark ages by introducing her "Home Health Sanitation Initiative", a program that would forbid the "colored help" from using the pristine toilets of their white employers.
As the queen bee of Jackson and the town's biggest socialite, Hilly has it all: a wealthy husband, a beautiful son and an incredible house, but that is just insufficient. Hilly will not sit still until she has persuaded all of Jackson to submit to the idea of separate but equal living with the black and white people.
In Jackson, Mississippi, Hilly is the law and everything, and everyone must fit into her precise mold of quality living. Those that don not, pay a terrible price.
Hilly, who is only in her early twenties, will be Jackson's meanest and most racist resident, bullying the lives of African Americans for decades to come.
Hilly is a leading figure among the upper-class young women of Jackson, Mississippi in 1961. She is married and has two young children, and where she goes all of her lady friends go too. Her poise, beauty, and outward cheeriness mask her vindictive and greedy personality. She was once a close friend of protagonist Skeeter Phelan, but they begin to grow apart when Skeeter starts to realize how twisted Hilly truly is. Though she gives a show of friendliness, she is deeply racist and leads her friends in support of segregation.
When her mother begins showing signs of senility, Hilly invites her and her black maid, Minny Jackson to stay in her house, firing her own maid. Her real motive, it turns out, was to have Minny and her superior cooking for herself. One of Hilly's initiatives is to have every house build a separate bathroom for black maids, believing that African Americans carry different diseases and that every person who shares a bathroom with a colored person is doomed to become infected with the disease. Until she has one built, she orders Minny to relieve herself outside. When she orders Minny to do this during a violent thunderstorm, Minny sneaks upstairs to use the indoor bathroom. When she discovers this, Hilly fires her and spreads rumors that she caught Minny stealing, making it almost impossible for her to find a new job.
Minny has her revenge on Hilly when she shows up offering her own waste baked into a chocolate pie. Hilly eats two slices of the pie before Minny reveals the truth to her. Her mother, hearing this, bursts out laughing. Unable to take the humiliation, Hilly commits her aging mother to a nursing home for laughing at her. Minny, meanwhile, ends up working for Celia Foote, a girl from a poor family who has married Johnny Foote, an old flame of Hilly's. Hilly and her friends refuse to allow Celia to join their circle, partly out of prejudice against her poor background, partly in anger over Celia's marrying Johnny.
Hilly's new maid, Yule Mae asks her for a loan so she can send her sons to college, offering to work for nothing until it is paid off. Hilly refuses, and stalks Yule Mae, attempting to catch her. Yule Mae finds a lost ring behind Hilly's sofa and pawns it to raise more money. Discovering this, Hilly orders Yule Mae arrested.
Meanwhile, Skeeter, with the help of Minny and Abileen Clark, has been writing a book about black maid's experiences. When they worry Hilly will discover that the book is partly about her, Minny tells Skeeter to include the story of the chocolate pie. As Minny planned, Hilly insistently denies that the book is about her or anyone else in Jackson, for fear of being exposed as the victim of Minny's prank.
She shows her true colors when she confronts Skeeter about the book being called 'The Help'. She arrives on Skeeter's porch drunk and threatening to sue. She rats on Skeeter's mother about the book, but Mrs. Phelan has already guessed and throws her off the property.
Hilly decides to take her revenge on Minny and Aibleen. She instructs her husband to get Minny's husband Leroy fired. When Leroy tries to beat Minny up for this, Minny takes her children and leaves him to work full time for Celia.
Hilly tries to take revenge on Abileen by telling her employer, Elizabeth Leefolt, that Aibileen stole some of her silverware. When she threatens to have her arrested, Aibleen stands up to her and warns her that she has enough information to write a new book about her evil ways. Hilly backed down, humiliated and defeated for good. Aibleen leaves feeling good about herself, for finally being free from people like Hilly.