Viola Davis’ Fantastic Career
Viola Davis is an award winning American actress. One of the most popular actresses in Hollywood, she is best known for her roles in the movies Doubt (2008), and The Help (2011), both of which won her nominations for Golden Globe and Academy Awards. In 2015, she became the first black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of Annalise Keating, on the TV show, How to Get Away with Murder. She has won a number of accolades throughout her career. Her roles in the Broadway shows King Hedley II, as Tanya, and Fences, as Rose Maxon, each won her a Tony Award in 2001 and 2010 respectively. Her movie credits include the likes of Ender's Game (2013), Antwone Fisher (2003), The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (2013), Get on Up (2014), and others. She is now all set to make her appearance in the 2016 superhero movie, Suicide Squad.
Viola Davis was born in South Carolina, and brought up in Rhode Island. She and her five siblings (Viola is second youngest) were born in her grandparents’ house in St. Matthews. Viola comes from humble beginnings. In fact, she has described her childhood as having been spent in “abject poverty and dysfunction”. Her father, Dan Davis was a horse trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice, used to work as a maid, a factory worker, and other odd jobs, to make ends meet. However, even after all the efforts, the family was not able to support its needs in South Carolina. They decided to move to Central Falls in Rhode Island, when Viola was only a two-month old baby. Viola’s parents took her and two of her sisters with them, and left her elder brother and sister in the care of Viola’s grandparents.
Viola’s love for stage acting began with early in high school. She majored in theatre at Rhode Island College and graduated in 1988. Then she attended the Juilliard School of Performing Arts. A successful acting career later in life, earned her an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from her alma mater Rhode Island College.
Davis is married to her husband, Julius Tennon, since June 2003 and lives with him in Los Angeles. The couple adopted a newborn as their daughter in 2011, and named her Genesis. The couple also has two more sons from Davis’ previous relationships.
Viola’s acting career began in 1996 with the play, The Substance of Fire, for which she appeared in a minor role. However, she had to wait another five years before she got an opportunity more suitable to her skills. That opportunity was King Hedley II in 2001. In this Broadway show, she played the role of a middle aged mother, who is fighting for her right to undergo abortion. Her performance in the show won her the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play, and a Drama Desk Award. Her next Drama Desk award came from her work in Lynn Nottage’s off-Broadway play Intimate Apparel in 2004.
Once her career took off, Davis appeared in a number of movies and TV shows. It seems Steven Soderbergh recognized her talents as far back as 1998, and gave her a role in his movie, Out of Sight (1998). She was then cast in a number of movies that he produced or directed – Traffic (2000), Syriana (2005), and Solaris (2002). Later on, she made guest appearances on TV shows, Law & Order, and NYPD Blue. She later appeared in a number of small roles including in movies Ocean's Eleven, Kate & Leopold, and others.
Davis always managed to deliver her best, and made the most out of every opportunity she ever got. For instance, she had a small role in the movie, Antwone Fisher (2002), of the mother of a troubled navy sailor. Davis’ character barely spoke in the movie, but her performance was so extraordinary that she was singularly praised by the critics, and even received a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award. She weaved her magic once again in the movie, Doubt (2008), which was studded with a star cast including Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. Davis played the mother of a boy who may have been sexually assaulted by a priest. In this movie too, Davis appeared in only one scene, where she clashed with the school’s principal (Meryl Streep) over the alleged crime against her son. Her stunning performance in the movie won her nominations for several awards, including Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Davis returned to stage again, and this time alongside Denzel Washington in Fences (2010). She portrayed the wife in the story of a long-married couple. Both Davis and Washington were able to create a perfectly believable story of the couple’s relationship falling apart in the face of infidelity. The show earned Tony Awards for both Davis and Washington.
Viola reached new heights of critical acclaim with her portrayal of Aibileen Clark, an African-American maid in a Southern town, in the movie The Help (2011). The movie, directed by Tate Taylor, was an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, and co-starred Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard. Again, her performance did not go unnoticed, as she won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a second Academy Award nomination and a BAFTA nomination. She lost the Oscar to Meryl Streep, who presented her the Women in Film's Crystal Award that very year.
In 2012, Davis was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, by the TIME magazine. She was cast again by The Help director, Tate Taylor, in his new movie, Get on Up (2014), which was a biopic of James Brown. Davis played the mother of Brown in the movie. In 2014, she appeared in Blackhat (2015) starring Chris Hemsworth. Presently, she is set to appear as Amanda Waller in the DC Comics movie Suicide Squad in 2016. )
Historical Emmy Win
In 2014, Davis was cast as the lead character, Professor Annalise Keating, in the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder. The thriller-drama series is produced by Shonda Rhimes, of Grey’s Anatomy fame. Viola made history in 2015 by becoming the first African-American to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She recited a quote from Harriet Tubman, from her memory, and voiced the problems faced by Black People in Hollywood.