Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Viola Davis is known to be the first African-American actress to achieve the “Triple Crown of Acting” and the only African-American performer to win Tony, Oscar, and Emmy Awards. She is also the first African-American to win five ‘Screen Actors Guild Awards.’
She was born on August 11, 1965, on her grandmother’s farm at the then- Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, SC two months after Davis was born, the family moved to Rhode Island. She grew up in a poverty-stricken family in Rhode Island and that is where she found an interest in watching movies. Her father Dan Davis worked as a horse groomer and her mother Mary Alice was a maid and a factory worker. She developed her love of acting early in Central Falls High school. At Rhode Island College is where she began her acting career and earned her degree in theater. After attending the Juilliard School of Performing Arts, she performed in McCollum in ‘Everybody’s Ruby’ as Ruby which made her win an Obie Award. She received her Screen Actors Guild for playing the role of a nurse in the film “The Substance of Fire”.
Later Davis won the role of Nurse Lynnette Peeler in “City of Angels”. She appeared on Broadway in the play, ’King Hedley II’ which she won the Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a play. She won another Drama Desk Award for her work in a 2004 Off-Broadway production of Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage.
Davis has worked in several films, including three films directed by Steven Soderbergh; Traffic, Solaris, and Out of Sight. She gave brief performances in the films Kate & Leopold and Antwone Fisher and played a secondary role in Far from Heaven, a film directed by Todd Haynes. She was nominated for the Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Mrs. Miller in ‘Doubt’. This made a tremendous impression despite being a small role and it took her career to newer and higher heights. In the film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s book, her role resembled her real-life mother and grandmother.
In June 2010, Davis won her second Tony Award for her role as Rose Maxson in Fences. That made her the second African-American woman to win the Tony for the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play. She co-starred in the revival of the August Wilson play with Denzel Washington, portraying the wife in a long-marriage that is falling apart. She won the critical acclaim for her starring role as Aibileen Clark in the box-office hit ‘The Help’.
Davis refined her character when she worked with the director and screenwriter Tate Taylor, to make sure that her responses and actions were believable because racial tension was so high during the time that film was set in. She played Aibileen with great restraint and won extensive Praise for her work on the film.
She continued taking on interesting parts and in June 2012, she was presented with the Women in the Film’s Crystal Award by her friend and Oscar rival that year, Meryl Streep. In 2013 she appeared in a biopic of James Brown, playing Brown’s mother. She was later cast in Peter Nowalk’s pilot ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ as the leading character, which made her the first black female to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Davis won the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.
In 2015, she was featured in Blackhat, a film starring Chris Hemsworth, and Lila & Eve where she was the executive -producer starring herself and Jennifer Lopez. She was featured in the courtroom and also served as the executive producer of the courtroom drama ‘Custody’ and the following year she did the action film Suicide Squad. Having been able to perform all the above roles, she continued to look for more meaningful roles and maybe start up some projects of her own. In 2016 she won a Golden Globe Award for reprising her role. She gathered acclaim for her performance in Widow, a heist thriller.
Davis with her desire to promote the welfare of the others she donated funds to her hometown public library in Central Falls, Rhode Island to help in the city funding. She worked together with the Hunger is Campaign to help end childhood hunger across America.
She is married to actor Julius Tennon and they have adopted a daughter called Genesis. She is a stepmother to Tennon’s children from a previous relationship. She is a Christian and regularly attends services.
Viola has raised praise for her motivational and inspirational speeches that were so powerful, moving, gracious, and beautiful. Glamour Magazine named her Film Actress of the Year which marked as the beginning of the healing process for what she went through in her life.
Here are 7 Reasons Why Viola Davis Is An Inspiration To All:
Viola Davis is known to be the first African American actress to achieve the “Triple Crown of Acting” and the only African-American performer to win Tony, Oscar, and Emmy Awards.
She is the first African-American to win five ‘Screen Actors Guild Awards.’
After attending the Juilliard School of Performing Arts, she performed in McCollum in ‘Everybody’s Ruby’ as Ruby which made her win an Obie Award.
She received her Screen Actors Guild for playing the role of a nurse in the film “The Substance of Fire”.
She appeared on Broadway in the play, ’King Hedley II’ in which she won the Tony Awards and a Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a play.
In June 2010, Davis won her second Tony Award for her role as Rose Maxson in Fences.
In 2016, she won a Golden Globe Award for reprising her role in the film Suicide Squad.