Viola Davis is an actress best known for her award winning performances in the films “Traffic”, “Doubt” and “The Help”. She was born on her grandmother’s farm in St. Matthews, South Carolina. She was the second of six children born to Dan Davis, a horse trainer and Mary Alice, a maid and civil rights activist. The family moved to Rhode Island soon after Viola’s birth. Davis got into acting from an early age; first at Central Falls High School and later when she majored in theatre at Rhode Island College from where she graduated in 1988. She then attended the elite Juilliard School of Performing Arts in New York City from 1989 to 1993.
Davis had several prominent roles in her career. She made her Broadway debut in 1996 with the play “Seven Guitars” written by August Wilson. In 2001, she played the role of Tonya in Wilson’s play King Hedley II. In this she played the role of a mother who fights for her right to abort a pregnancy. For her performance, she won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award. In 2004, she appeared in an Off-Broadway production called “Intimate Apparel” for which she won another Drama Desk Award. In 2008, she starred in the Broadway play “Doubt” alongside Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. Her performance was critically acclaimed and she received a Golden Globe as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Her work on the big screen includes several prominent films such as “Out of Sight”, “Solaris” and “Traffic”, all directed by Steven Soderbergh. She made brief appearances in the films “Kate & Leopold” and “Antwone Fisher”. In 2010, she received her second Tony Award for performing in August Wilson’s play “Fences”. Davis is only the second African American woman to have won this award. The same year, she appeared in the comedy film “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” also starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts. The film was based on an adaptation of a 2006 novel of the same name.
2011 was another productive year for Davis. She received Golden Globe Award, BAFTA and Academy Award nominations for playing the role of Aibileen Clark in the film “The Help”, also starring Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard among many others. The film itself was nominated for Best Picture. Davis’s fellow cast member Octavia Spencer won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the film. In 2014, Davis joined the cast as the lead actress of the ABC drama “How to Get Away With Murder”. She has also appeared in small roles in other television shows such as “Law & Order”.
In 2009, Davis was inducted into The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures. In 2012, Time magazine listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and Glamour magazine named her Glamour’s Film Actress of the year. That same year, she was awarded the “Women in Film’s Crystal Award” which was presented to her by Meryl Streep. In 2013, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Davis is married to the actor Julius Tennon, and the couple have adopted a daughter named Genesis in October 2011. She also helps to raise his two stepsons from previous relationships.