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, which drew 14.24 million viewers during its 2014 premiere, 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. Season three premiered in September 2016 and this year she received her third Emmy nomination for the role. The show will return for season four in September.
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. The film was directed and produced by Denzel Washington and is adapted from August Wilson's play. Davis garnered Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Academy Awards in the category of "Best Supporting Actress" for her portrayal of Rose Maxson. Davis also starred with 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.
Davis recently completed production on Widows. Directed by Steve McQueen and written by Gillian Flynn, the film follows a group of widows after their criminal husbands are killed during a heist. 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. In 2015, Davis starred opposite Jennifer Lopez in Lila & Eve, the story of two mothers whose children are killed in drive-by shootings. Davis also took the reins as a producer on the film, along with her husband, Julius Tennon, for their company, JuVee Productions.
In 2014, Davis reteamed 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. Davis starred as James's mother, Susie Brown.
In 2012, Davis received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of the heart-broken but stoic Aibileen Clark in The Help. Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer also starred. The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel, directed by Tate Taylor, 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 for her portrayal of Aibileen, 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 where she portrayed Mrs. Miller, the mother of a young boy who piques the fascination of a Catholic priest. 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. The National Board of Review recognized Davis with the Breakthrough Award and she was also honored by the Santa Barbara Film Festival as a Virtuoso.
In 2012, Davis and her husband founded a production company, JuVee Productions, with its focus being to give a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful and culturally relevant narratives. The Los Angeles-based and artist-driven company produces film, television and digital content across all of entertainment. As their first project, they optioned the rights to Ann Weisgarber's 2008 book The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. DuPree, a fictional early 20th-century Chicagoan, focuses on her struggle to survive and provide for her family, but also examines the harsh racial struggles facing the rarely explored lives of black pioneers. JuVee Productions' other projects include Girls Like Us, an adaptation of Rachael Lloyd's memoir which chronicles her falling prey to the world of commercial sex exploitation and escaping to dedicate her life to fight that very industry; Vee-Jay Records, a label that released the first Beatles tracks in America; and a Barbara Jordan biopic.
In 2013, film audiences saw Davis in four vastly different projects. In the film adaptation of the popular science fiction novel Ender's Game, Davis portrayed military psychologist Major Gwen Anderson, opposite Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford. In Warner Bros.' Prisoners, a dark thriller about two families shattered by the kidnapping of their daughters on Thanksgiving Day, she starred alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Paul Dano. In Beautiful Creatures, Davis joined Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons in telling the tale of two teens confronting a multi-generational curse. Warner Brothers and Alcon produced the film.
That same year, Davis had a six-episode arc in the Showtime's hit series United States of Tara, written by Academy Award-winner Diablo Cody. Davis portrayed Lynda P. Frazier, a wildly eccentric artist and friend to Tara (Toni Collette).
Davis won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female in 2003 for her performance in Antwone Fisher. Additional film credits include, Blackhat, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Knight and Day, Nights in Rodanthe, Madea Goes to Jail, Law Abiding Citizen, Disturbia, Eat, Pray, Love, It's Kind of a Funny Story, The Architect, Never Back Down and Far From Heaven. 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 in the stage in the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Lynn Nottage's play Intimate Apparel, directed by Daniel Sullivan. 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. She reprised her role at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles where she was recognized with the Ovation, Los Angeles Drama Critics and the Garland Awards.
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. She commanded the attention of critics and audiences alike for her portrayal of "Tonya," a 35-year-old woman who is forced to fight for the right to abort an unwanted pregnancy. 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.