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Viola Davis      

Academy Award-Winning Actor, Producer & Philanthropist

Viola Davis is an American actress and producer. Having won an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Tony Awards, she is the first African-American to achieve the "Triple Crown of Acting." Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012 and 2017. In 2017 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2020, The New York Times ranked Davis ninth on its list of "The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century."

Born in St. Matthews, South Carolina, Davis began her acting career in Central Falls, Rhode Island, starring in minor theater productions. After graduating from the Juilliard School in 1993, she won an Obie Award in 1999 for her performance as Ruby McCollum in Everybody's Ruby. She played minor roles in several films and television series in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before winning the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Tonya in the 2001 Broadway production of August Wilson's King Hedley II. Davis's film breakthrough came in 2008, when her role as a troubled mother in the film Doubt earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Greater success came to Davis in the 2010s. She won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for playing Rose Maxson in the Broadway revival of August Wilson's play Fences. For starring as a 1960s housemaid in the comedy-drama The Help (2011), Davis received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won a Screen Actors Guild Award.

In 2014, Davis began playing lawyer Annalise Keating in the ABC television drama series How to Get Away with Murder, and in 2015, she became the first Black woman to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2016, Davis reprised the role of Maxson in the film adaptation of Fences, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to receive a BAFTA nomination for her performance in Steve McQueen's heist film Widows (2018). In 2020, Davis garnered universal acclaim for her performance in the titular role of the film adaptation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, are founders of a production company, JuVee Productions. Davis is also widely recognized for her advocacy and support of human rights and equal rights for women and women of color.

Speech Topics


The Journey of a Hero

An inspirational voice who discusses her career and how overcoming adversities and preconceived restrictions have contributed to becoming a stronger woman.

News


Viola Davis: “My Entire Life Has Been a Protest” — Vanity Fair

The Oscar and Emmy winner overcame long odds to make it in Hollywood. Then the real work began.

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