Viola Davis
Award-Winning Actress
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Viola Davis is a critically revered, award-winning actress of film, television and theater known for her intriguing and groundbreaking roles. She is the first black actress to win a Tony, Oscar and Emmy Award in addition to being the most Academy Award-nominated black actress in history.

Davis is currently starring on the drama How to Get Away with Murder, from ABC Studios and Shondaland. The series is a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller that centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor. In 2015, Davis received the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, in addition to becoming the first African American to receive the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2016, she received her second Screen Actors Guild Award and her second Emmy nomination for portraying ‘Annalise Keating.’

As her credits attest, Davis is in constant demand for a wide variety of roles. She was most recently seen in Fences for Paramount Pictures. Davis garnered Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of ‘Rose Maxson.’ Davis also starred with Denzel Washington in the 2010 revival of the play on Broadway. Her performance earned her a Tony Award, as well as the Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award. Fences was also honored with the Tony Award for Best Play Revival and was the most profitable theater production of the year.

Last summer, Davis was seen in the highly anticipated Suicide Squad with Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto. The film broke the all-time opening record for August with $135 million. Davis also took the reins as a producer on this film, along with her husband, Julius Tennon, for their company, JuVee Productions. Also in 2015, Davis completed production on Custody co-starring Catalina Sandino Moreno and Hayden Panettiere and directed by James Lapine. The film was also produced by JuVee Productions and premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.

In 2014, Davis re-teamed with Tate Taylor (The Help) on the James Brown biopic Get on Up. The film starred Chadwick Boseman as the ‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown and chronicled his rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.

In 2012, Davis received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of ‘Aibileen Clark’ in The Help.  The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel was set in Jackson, Mississippi, during the turbulent 1960s, and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Davis won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice Best Actress Awards and was also nominated for a Golden Globe and British Academy Film Award.  The film won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble.

In 2008, Davis starred in the critically revered film Doubt based on John Patrick Shanley’s Tony Award-winning play. Davis shared the screen alongside Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Formed in 2012, Davis and her husband founded a multi-ethnic production company, JuVee Productions, committed to excellence in film, television, and theatre. As their first project, they optioned the rights to Ann Weisgarber’s 2008 book The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. JuVee Productions’ other projects include the story of Harriet Tubman, a leader of the Underground Railroad which will be produced in association with HBO Films; Vee-Jay Records, a label that released the first Beatles tracks in America; and a Barbara Jordan biopic.

She also co-starred with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” a post 9/11 story and nominated for Best Picture at the 2012 Academy Awards.

Davis won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female in 2003 for her performance in Antwone Fisher. Additional film credits include, Enders Game, Prisoners, Beautiful Creatures, Won’t Back Down, Blackhat, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Knight and Day, Nights in Rodanthe, Madea Goes to Jail, State of Play, Law Abiding Citizen, Disturbia, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, The Architect, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Far From Heaven and Eat, Pray, Love. She worked with director Steven Soderbergh on Solaris, Traffic and Out of Sight, and in Syriana, which Soderbergh produced for director Stephen Gaghan.

In 2004, Davis starred on the stage in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Lynn Nottage’s play, Intimate Apparel. She garnered the highest honors for an off-Broadway play, including Best Actress awards from the Drama Desk, the Drama League, the Obie and the Audelco Award. Davis was nominated for the Lucille Lortel Award as well.

In 2001, Davis was awarded a Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of ‘Tonya’ in King Hedley II. Davis also received a Drama Desk Award in recognition of her work.

A graduate of The Julliard School, Davis received an Honorary Doctorate during its 109th Commencement Ceremony and she also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from her alma mater, Rhode Island College. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Speech Topics

  • The Journey of a Hero
Official Site: How to Get Away with Murder
TIME 100
Article: Viola on Race and Diversity
Article: Davis Gave the Most Powerful Emmy Speech of All Time
Article: Davis Defies Hollywood Stereotypes
Video: Davis On Surviving a Hungry, Impoverished Childhood
Article: Davis Like You've Never Seen Her Before
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