CALLING: Actor and activist
WHY WE’RE SALUTING HER:
Viola Davis has made us proud on and off screen through dedication to her craft and the ability to intertwine her passion for improving education into her movie roles, while simultaneously introducing a new aesthetic of beauty to be celebrated in Hollywood.
Though Davis’s name has only recently begun to be heard on the tongues of nearly every prominent figure in the movie business, she’s actually been a strong force in the entertainment industry for some time now. Davis majored in theatre at Rhode Island College, where she graduated from in 1988 — and later received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from in 2002 — and a year later attended Julliard for four year as a member of the school’s Drama Division’s Group 22 from 1989–1993.
Only a few years later, the St. Matthews, SC, native won her first Tony and Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of a 35-year-old mother fighting for the right to abort a pregnancy in King Hedley II. A number of roles in major Hollywood productions followed that win, including parts in Antoine Fisher, Out of Sight, and Solaris. In 2008, Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Doubt, and a year later she was inducted into The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Just one other year after that, Davis won a second Tony Award for her role as Rose Maxson in a revival of Fences, becoming only the second African American woman to win the award after Phylicia Rashad.
It could be said that in 2011 Davis took on her biggest role yet as Abilene Clark in the movie adaptation of The Help. Despite criticism from some who weren’t interested in seeing Black woman portrayed in a servant role, Davis was lauded for her performance with nominations for Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Awards.
It was during the recognition for her role in The Help, that Viola repped for naturalistas everywhere when she hit the red carpet at the 2012 Oscars without her characteristic straight wigs, but with a teeny weeny afro that she was encouraged to rock by her husband. For staying true to herself while still giving her all to her roles on the big screen, we salute Viola Davis.