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Viola Davis Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (41) | Personal Quotes (27)

Overview (2)

Date of Birth 11 August 1965Saint Matthews, South Carolina, USA
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm, at the then-Singleton Plantation in St. Matthews, South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Her mother, Mary Alice (Logan), a maid and factory worker, was also a civil rights activist. Davis was educated at Central Falls High School, where she developed a love of acting. She studied theater at Rhode Island College, and also attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City.

Davis made her screen debut with a small role as a nurse in 1996's The Substance of Fire (1996). Guest spots followed in various TV shows and films, and in 2000 she won the role of Nurse Lynnette Peeler in City of Angels (2000). In 2001, Davis appeared on Broadway in the play, 'King Hedley II', for which she was awarded a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

Davis has worked with Steven Soderbergh on three projects - Traffic (2000), Solaris (2002) and Syriana (2005). Other projects include Far from Heaven (2002), Antwone Fisher (2002) and Disturbia (2007). In 2008, she played Mrs. Miller in Doubt (2008), for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. In 2011, she won critical acclaim for her starring role as Aibileen Clark in the box-office hit The Help (2011).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (1)

Julius Tennon (23 June 2003 - present) (1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

Her natural hair
Often plays longsuffering mothers (e.g. Doubt, Antwone Fisher, Get on Up, Fences)

Trivia (41)

Daughter of Mary and Dan Davis. Dan was a horse-groomer for the Narrangasett and Lincoln Downs racetracks in Rhode Island.
Won Broadway's 2001 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for August Wilson's "King Hedley II". She had previously been nominated in the same category in 1996 for another Wilson play, "Seven Guitars".
Won the 2005 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for "Intimate Apparel" (2004).
Attended and graduated from Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island (1988), where she majored in theater. She later received an honorary degree in Fine Arts from the college (2002).
After her graduation from Rhode Island College, she attended the Juilliard School in New York City for four years, and was a member of the school Drama Division "Group 22" (1989-1993).
Grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Her family moved there when she was 2-months old.
Inducted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) on June 30, 2009.
Announced that she and her husband, Julius Tennon, have adopted a newborn daughter named Genesis Tennon. [October 2011]
In 2012, Davis told Entertainment Weekly that she and her husband stayed at George Clooney's Italian estate on Lake Como for their honeymoon.
Is one of 10 African-American actresses to be Oscar-nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. The others in chronological order are Dorothy Dandridge, Diana Ross, Cicely Tyson, Diahann Carroll, Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Gabourey Sidibe and Quvenzhané Wallis.
Is one of two African-American actresses (the other being Whoopi Goldberg) to be nominated for an Academy Award in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories.
Returned to work 4 months after adopting her daughter Genesis to begin filming Ender's Game (2013).
Named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World (2012).
Named Glamour magazine's Film Actress of the Year (2012).
Won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in "Fences" (2010).
Stepmother to Julius Tennon's two sons from previous relationships.
As of 2017, has appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Traffic (2000), Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), The Help (2011) and Fences (2016).
Is the first black actress to receive an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for How to Get Away with Murder (2014).
Is one of five actresses to receive an Oscar nomination for a performance with less than 10 minutes of screen time.
She was nominated for the 1996 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for "Seven Guitars" on Broadway in New York City.
She was awarded the 1996 Drama Logue Award for Performance for "Seven Guitars" at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
She was awarded the 2004 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Lead Performance for "Intimate Apparel" in association with Roundabout Theatre Company production at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
Oprah Winfrey and beau Stedman Graham attended her 'third' marriage to Julius.
She was awarded for a 2001 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for "King Hedley II" on Broadway in New York City.
She was awarded for a 2001 New York Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for "King Hedley II" on Broadway in New York City.
She was awarded the 2004 Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play for "Intimate Apparel" in association with Roundabout Theatre Company production at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
She was awarded for a 2001 New York Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for "King Hedley II" on Broadway in New York City.
She was awarded for the 2004 Back Stage Garland Award for Outstanding Performance for "Intimate Apparel" in association with Roundabout Theatre Company production at the Mark Taper Forum Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
Counts Cicely Tyson's Emmy-winning performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974) as a pivotal moment in her life when she ultimately understood how acting could be such a transformative craft.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7013 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on January 5, 2017.
Is the only African-American actress to have received three acting Oscar nominations.
Is one of 16 actresses to have won the Triple Crown of Acting (an Oscar, Emmy and Tony). The others in chronological order are Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley Booth, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Audrey Hepburn, Anne Bancroft, Vanessa Redgrave, Maggie Smith, Ellen Burstyn, Helen Mirren, Frances McDormand and Jessica Lange.
In 2017, Davis became the 25th performer (and first African-American actress) to have won the Triple Crown of Acting (an Oscar, Emmy and Tony). She won the 2001 Best Featured Actress in a Play Tony Award for "King Hedley II" and the 2010 Best Leading Actress in a Play Tony Award for "Fences", the 2015 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy Award for How to Get Away with Murder (2014), and the 2017 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fences (2016).
Is one of seven African-American actresses to have won an acting Oscar in a competitive category. The others in chronological order are Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind (1939), Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost (1990), Halle Berry for Monster's Ball (2001), Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls (2006), Mo'Nique for Precious (2009) and Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011).
Was the 147th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fences (2016) at The 89th Annual Academy Awards (2017) on February 26, 2017.
Is one of only nine actors to have won both the Tony and the Oscar for the same role on stage and film. The others are Yul Brynner (The King and I (1956)), Rex Harrison (My Fair Lady (1964)), Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker (1962)), Joel Grey (Cabaret (1972)), Paul Scofield (A Man for All Seasons (1966)), Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)), Jack Albertson (The Subject Was Roses (1968)) and José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)).
Viola Davis won both a Tony Award and an Academy Award for the role of Rose Maxon in "Fences" (in the 2010 Broadway revival of the play and the 2016 film adaptation, respectively). In the original 1987 Broadway production of the play, the role of Rose was originated by the actress Mary Alice--which was also the name of Viola Davis's mother.
With her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fences (2016), Viola Davis became the first black woman to have won a Tony, an Emmy, and an Oscar for acting. Whoopi Goldberg not only has all three awards; she also has a Grammy (making her one of the few "EGOT" honorees, someone who has won all four awards)--but Goldberg won her Tony Award for producing the Broadway show "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (1999-2003).
Given the choice, she prefers the stage to film acting.

Personal Quotes (27)

We grew up in abject poverty. Acting, writing scripts and skits were a way of escaping our environment at a very young age.
[on why she's not inspired to direct] I can't deal with actors! I can't deal with myself. We're neurotic and miserable... I love doing what I'm doing, but while I'm doing it, I'm miserable.
[on undertaking the role of Aibileen Clark in The Help (2011)] I absolutely feel that she just had the nurturing instinct. You know, it's like my mom. She's said she's taken care of kids since she was four years old, and she's now sixty-eight. That's all she knew, which was to take care of kids. She also had seventeen of her brothers and sisters and cousins and all of that - and she was always taking care of them. I myself was delivered by my grandmother.
The thing about the African-American community compared with the white community is, we are more concerned with image and message than execution. I don't play roles that are necessarily attractive or portray a positive image. They are well-rounded characters. When you squelch excellence to put out a message it's like passing the baton and seeing it drop.
[on roles for African-American actresses] You're not doing the Irish and Scottish accents they taught at Juilliard. In the real world you're doing Ebonics and Jamaican.
[on performing with Jeremy Irons in Beautiful Creatures (2013)] He's a total hippie. Here's this grand, talented man who counters it with just humility - very casual and loose. So it was a joy to work with him in the swamps.
People migrate toward material when they reach a certain age, especially if they're a certain hue, certain gender. I have had so many wonderful film roles where I wasn't the show. It's like being invited to a really fabulous party, only to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show. I wanted to be character that took me out of my comfort zone.
[on playing Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder (2014)] The challenge for any writer, any artist, is to somehow combine art with the mess that we call life. I spent too much time in my career - probably too much - trying to force writers to write for me in a way that was bold. Well, you know what? This is it. This is bold.
Meryl Streep is the greatest actress because you can see so many different emotions going on in her eyes. It's a joy as an artist.
The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.
The happily ever after comes after you've done the work.
[on female sexuality] It's all about the choices you make. And what I mean by that is the choice of how you look, how you do your hair, how you choose to show your body. If the writer says: "What do you think?", well, what are you telling them? In 2015, just like people say men have to "man up", we have to "woman up" and live our truths through our work and define ourselves in our terms, not the Mr. Potato Head model of male desirability.
I consider myself a hero. I don't have a cape, I don't have a golden lasso. I had a call to adventure, a call to live life bigger than myself. I found the elixir.
The more I'm pushed in a position of leadership and I know I have to be the mouthpiece for so many other people who can't speak for themselves, the more confidence I'm gaining.
Colorism and racism in this country are so powerful. As an actress, I have been a great victim of that. There were a lot of things that people did not allow me to be until I got...Annalise Keating [How to Get Away with Murder (2014)]. I was not able to be sexualized. *Ever.* In my entire career.
[on her Fences (2016) role] That was the role of womanhood in the '50s. You were an instrument for everyone else's joy except for your own. The '50s in America had the highest rate of alcoholism and depression. There were whole manuals out there that were being passed out about how to make your husband happy - put on make-up when he walks through the door, after a long day of work, don't weigh him down with any of your problems, ask him about his problems, greet him with a smile, make sure the children are fed and they're clean, his favorite meal is on the table, and nowhere in that manual is anything about her joy, and the center of her happiness.
I don't see acting as hiding. I see it as stepping up buck naked in front of a group of people that you don't know. Every single time. It's about exposing. If you're not doing that, you're basically not doing anything.
[on growing up in poverty] I just wanted to get out, to be somebody. I was always so hungry and ashamed. I couldn't get at the business of being me.
I'll play a mysterious, sexualized woman if I can explore why she's mysterious and sexual because that's the only thing that's going to make her human - and that's the only thing I know to do. I don't know how to smoke around in Alexander McQueen outfits, or diet myself down to a size two.
When you're acting, you're feeling everything - every last receptor in your body is alive, 100% alive, and you're not hiding anything, because everything is used as a tool to make the character a fully realized human being.
Reese Witherspoon, who I love by the way, can say: "I use my own money for my movies". I don't have Reese Witherspoon money. As much as I'm on the A-list, it still requires a big white male or female star for me to even get a movie deal. And I'm not saying that with a lack of gratitude for the position I'm in now. I'm not complaining. It's absolutely an honest observation. There are very few black females spearheading the movies. That's not because we can't, but it's still a fight.
When I first started, acting was very therapeutic. I needed it. I felt I was unfinished. Then I went into therapy. I got married to the most beautiful man [Julius Tennon].
If you haven't experienced poverty, you can't imagine it. It's so close, so tight. It's fraught with so much deprivation that it just explodes. Homosexuals, the transgender community, women, blacks - they're mistreated. With poor people, it's not mistreatment. You're not even there. You don't exist. It seeps into your brain.
[on the oppression facing women of color] I know the ropes, I've been in the casting offices, I've felt the discrimination, I've felt "the line"...so when someone gives me a stage to be able to say something, it's already in there. By the time you're 50, you have a built-in narrative of your own. Sometimes there is no sugar-coating it. Sometimes you have to challenge people's belief systems in a progressive way.
[on television roles for women] I look at them sometimes and don't recognize them. They're watered-down femininity. Like when your mom told you to make sure when you sat down to keep your legs closed, or not mess up your hair, it's the famous saying: "The well-behaved woman seldom makes history". And it's very true. But in our lives we are bold, we are messy, we are psychotic at times, and then we are very beautiful and well-spoken and sensitive and loving, and all of those expansive things that men can be.
[on her How to Get Away with Murder (2014) character] It's blowing the lid off everything that people say we should be, especially as a dark-skinned woman, that you can't be sexual, you can't be unlikable, you can be angry but with no vulnerability, you can't be damaged, you can't be smart. It blows the lid off all of it. And even if it's not executed all the time in ways that people like, it doesn't matter. What matters is that she's out there. That's it. She's out there, she's on screen, she's making an impact.
I became an artist - and thank God I did - because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.

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