The American actress and producer Viola Davis is known as the first African-American actress to be nominated for three Academy Awards, winning one. She is also the only black actress to date to win an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony. Born in St. Matthews, South Carolina, she began her career acting in minor theater productions. After graduating from the Juilliard School in 1993, Davis started her career on stage and won an Obie Award in 1999 for her performance as Ruby McCollum in Everybody’s Ruby. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, she played minor roles in several films and television series, before winning the Tony Award for the Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Tonya in August Wilson’s King Hedley II in 2001.
Davis’ breakthrough came in 2008, when her supporting role in the drama Doubt earned her several nominations, including the Golden Globe, SAG and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Continuing on the road to success, in 2010 Viola won another Tony Award, for Best Actress in a Play for her role as Rose Maxson in the revival of August Wilson’s play Fences. For her lead role as 1960s housemaid Aibileen Clark in the 2011 comedy-drama The Help, she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won a SAG Award. After landing a role of lawyer Annalise Keating in the 2014 ABC television drama How to Get Away with Murder, she became the first black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at the award of 2015. Her portrayal also won her two SAG Awards in 2015 and 2016. In the 2016 superhero action film Suicide Squad, Davis played Amanda Waller, and in the same year reprised the role of Rose Maxson in the film adaptation of Fences, for which she won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics’ Choice Award, SAG Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Founder of the production company JuVee Productions in partnership with her husband, Julius Tennon, in 2012 and 2017 she was listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In October 2018, the actress and producer announced that she would write the sequel to the classic picture book Corduroy, titled Corduroy Takes a Bow. According to her, the book has always had a special place in her life. Having always been supportive of arts and passionate for books, in 2011 Viola made a donation to her hometown public library in Central Falls, Rhode Island, and earlier this year, she donated funds to her alma mater, Central Falls High School, for its theatre program. As part of her partnership with Vaseline to promote the Vaseline Healing Project, Davis attended the groundbreaking of a free community health center in Central Falls, in October 2016 that was sponsored by the project, which provides dermatological care to help heal the skin of those affected by poverty around the world. Since 2014, Viola has collaborated with the Hunger Is campaign to help eradicate childhood hunger across America.
The first black actor to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, which she became by winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Fences (2017), Davis speaks openly about racism and the fight against it. As she said in her 2017 Oscar speech, there is still a lot to be done, and producers should give more opportunities to black actors in Hollywood, where racial discrimination is still going strong.
Viola Davis is a woman who dares to dream, whose roles in plays, movies and TV series give all black women and girls out there necessary representation, and whose success makes her a figure to be inspired with.