All Articles Tagged "Viola Davis"
Viola Davis Talks Audiences Embracing “A Woman Of A Certain Hue” For Her Lead Role In “How To Get Away With Murder”
Hollywood has lauded Viola Davis for her unforgettable supporting actress roles. No matter the character, Davis has become the glue that holds together the cast and script. Despite never receiving the role as a protagonist, Daviss gift of transforming into memorable characters always leaves audiences astounded. Although the film industry has yet to make Davis into a leading lady, the Oscar-nominated actress is preparing sweep the nation as the new head actress in charge for television. Premiering as Professor Annalise Keating in ABC Network’s “How To Get Away With Murder,” Davis will play a sharp law professor who helps her students win cases no matter what. That’s how Professor Keating finds herself involved in a crime and love triangle since using her sexuality as her master weapon.
In a featured interview with the New York Times, Davis talks about never being given the opportunity to play such a role before and the uncertainties surrounding mainstream America receiving her as such a character. She also discusses how her childhood shaped her work ethic as an actress:
On The Typical Roles She Receives
Davis earned her second Oscar nomination but soon enough returned to playing yet another government functionary or military officer. “I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish,” she said. “A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes, you’re not going to be able to show what you can do. You’re going to get your little bitty paycheck, and then you’re going to be hungry for your next role, which is going to be absolutely the same. That’s the truth.”
What Viewers Can Expect From “How To Get Away With Murder”
Davis plays Annalise Keating, a flinty, stylish defense lawyer and law professor who employs her top students to help her win cases. After those students become entangled in a murder plot on their Ivy League campus, viewers will wonder whether Keating herself was involved in the crime. Davis plays Keating as cerebral and alluring, a fierce taskmaster who uses her sex appeal to her advantage, with a handsome husband and a lover on the side. It’s the kind of woman, in other words, that she has never gotten to play.
Her Uncertainty About Being Received As Professor Keating
“How to Get Away With Murder,” which includes Shonda Rhimes among its executive producers, will be shown on Thursday nights after Rhimes’s two hit series, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” a generous lead-in that the network hopes will result in an instant hit. But that will depend, in part, on whether viewers embrace Davis — “a woman of color, of a certain age and a certain hue,” as she says — in her new capacity. “I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,” she told me, referring to two African-American stars with notably lighter skin.
What Drives Her Work Ethic As Black Actress
Davis is known for her meticulous preparation. She spent four months studying for her eight minutes in “Doubt.” For “The Help,” she imagined Aibileen’s childhood, her aspirations and even her love life. Davis’s own back story explains much about the actress she has become. Born on her grandmother’s farm, a former plantation in South Carolina, she was raised in Central Falls, R.I. As one of the few black families in town, Davis and her five siblings grew up enduring vicious taunts. “Constantly being called ‘black ugly nigger’ — those words together,” she said in the 2011 documentary “Dark Girls.” Her father was a horse trainer, her mother worked in a factory and as an occasional maid and Davis remembers being so hungry that she sometimes stole food from the grocery store and rummaged in garbage cans for scraps; her shoes had holes in the soles, and her braids were secured by the plastic clips that seal up loaves of bread. “We sometimes used lard for moisturizer because we couldn’t afford lotion,” she recalled. “I smelled like chicken when I went to school.”
To read Davis’s entire interview, click here.
There are many reasons to look forward to the upcoming fall television schedule and one of them is Shonda Rhimes’ Thursday Night Takeover on ABC. The television producer has millions of viewers ready for a new season of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” and her latest creation, “How To Get Away With Murder,” has garnered a lot of buzz before the first episode has even aired.
“How To Get Away With Murder” will debut Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. ET, following “Scandal’s” season 4 premiere at 9 p.m. ET. and “Grey’s Anatomy’s” 11th and final season premiere at 8 p.m. ET.
In anticipation of these upcoming episodes, here’s a look at the Black women who have made Thursday night must see TV. For more on these shows and their stars, head over to XFINITY CelebrateBlackTV.com.
Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday nights on primetime television. This upcoming fall season, the Chicago native will have three shows airing on ABC. Growing up, Rhimes showed an affinity for storytelling and working as a hospital volunteer in high school peaked her interest in the medical field and would come in handy later on in life when creating several of her shows. After penning the scripts for HBO’s “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and “Crossroads,” Rhimes created “Grey’s Anatomy” and it aired as a midseason replacement in 2005. The show became an instant hit and soon it spawned the spin-off “Private Practice.” But it was “Scandal,” a political thriller set in Washington D.C., that really put Rhimes on the map. This fall her latest show “How To Get Away With Murder” is set to premiere starring Viola Davis .
“It’s not positive images of Black people that we need, but complex ones.” – Teyonah Parris
The tense debate about the representation of Black women in entertainment is not new. It has been a hot-button issue since the beginning of modern film and television. From the controversy over The Color Purple and the outrage over acclaimed actress Viola Davis being nominated for an Oscar for playing a maid, to the hype surrounding Olivia Pope “handling” primetime television and Gabrielle Union bringing the lovestruck crazy as Mary Jane Paul, we have been at a war of sorts over our image. We’ve been at said war with one another, with the writers, with the actresses themselves and with those who hand out the Oscars and the Emmys. We get extreme images that either display the really good or the really downtrodden (and I’m not bringing up reality TV because there are so few positive images): Clair Huxtable or Precious. Vivian Banks or Kizzy. We’ve not seen or embraced anything remotely close to complex characters on a consistent basis until recently, and I, for one, am thrilled about this new interest in and push for complexity.
It’s a welcomed change. It’s high time we acknowledge the multi-faceted Black woman. She is loving, angry, confused, ambitious, intelligent, greedy, giving, depressed, faithful, needy, searching, joyful, fly, pleasant, messy, neurotic and becoming. It’s reaffirming for me to see this type of woman portrayed because I have been and can be all of these things. This Black woman is relatable for me and I know it will be for my future daughters. In this time, the Digital Age where so much of our lifestyle, social interaction, and ideals are informed more by entertainment than ever, more true-to-life representation is necessary to balance the skewed view that many young Black girls are growing up with. Sure, I’ll teach my daughters that it is possible to be a wife, mother AND businesswoman. But I will also teach them that sometimes bad relationships happen. How excellent would it be if they were able to recognize such a spectrum in what they see on television too? If what they saw on television was more reflective of our real emotions, issues, triumphs and struggles? We are just now breaking through the barriers and producing content that will help us, and the generations after us, see a vast number of Black women onscreen, as well as young Black girls too. Doc McStuffins, Princess Tiana and Penny Proud paint a subtle but solid picture of what/who Black girls are and what they can become in the developmental stages. I could have shed tears when I walked into Target and saw a Doc McStuffins costume! We are beginning to pair the the telling with actually showing our girls (and ourselves) what diversity within our Blackness, and as women, looks like in entertainment. Now we can consistently view ourselves just as varied and adaptable for all stages in life. To me, this proves very valuable for Black women and girls and I am ecstatic.
My daughters will have me to look up to, but also diverse images of WOC in their books and on their televisions that we can have open, honest and stimulating conversations about. This will be a good change from only looking to either the perfect or the downtrodden caricatures that Black women on-screen have been made to bounce between for too long.
With complex Black women characters like Nia Long as the politically savvy Billie Page in WeTV’s new drama series “The Divide,” Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson, a top law firm executive trying to maintain her spot as the only WOC at her level on USA’s hit show “Suits,” or the highly-anticipated arrival of Annalise Keating in “How To Get Away With Murder,” starring Viola Davis as the charismatic and seductive professor, we are getting to see ourselves onscreen as composite and colorful as we are in reality. Because regardless of what we say, entertainment is a large part of our lives collectively. Pushing for the range of our stories to become available in these spaces of entertainment for all to see is half the battle. We, as Black women, are starting to win and I, for one, am excited about what the future of entertainment holds for us.
La Truly is a writer, college professor and young women’s empowerment enthusiast. She mixes her interest in social and cultural issues with her life experiences to encourage thought, discussion and positive change among young Women of Color. Follow her on Twitter: @ashleylatruly and check out her site: www.hersoulinc.com.
Earlier this year, we told you that Viola Davis had been cast to play an adulterous law professor in Shonda Rhimes’ in newest ABC thriller, “How To Get Away With Murder.” In case you missed it, the seasoned actress will be playing Annalise Keating, a ruthless criminal defense professor who, along with her flock of students, finds herself in the middle of the campus’ shocking murder plot.
“Annalise Keating is everything you hope your Criminal Law professor will be – brilliant, passionate, creative and charismatic,” ABC describes her character. :She’s also everything you don’t expect – sexy, glamorous, unpredictable and dangerous.
As fearless in the courtroom as she is in the classroom, Annalise is a defense attorney who represents the most hardened, violent criminals – people who’ve committed everything from fraud to arson to murder – and she’ll do almost anything to win their freedom. On the surface, Annalise seems like she has it all – a successful career and loving husband, Sam (Tom Verica) – but her relationship with a local Philadelphia detective, Nate (Billy Brown), will force her to confront secrets about her life she never saw coming.”
This may be the Academy-Award nominated actress’ most scandalous role to date, but apparently Viola is “here” for all of the messiness that is Annalise Keating!
“I love the fact that she’s messy and mysterious and you don’t know who she is,” Viola was quoted telling reporters by the Associated Press.
“I think as human beings we are a mess,” she continued.”But a lot of times the narratives we see in TV, film or even theater don’t match the mess. I think that’s a challenge for any writer, any artist, to match the art with the mess of what we call life. And that’s the appeal of this character.”
“How To Get Away With Murder” premieres Sept. 25. Will you be tuning in?
Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise
I don’t know about you, but I watch New York Undercover on YouTube like it came out last night. I was a huge fan of the show when it used to come on after Martin and Living Single on Fox on Thursday nights, and I’m still holding out hope that the show will be released on DVD soon. Until then, I catch up on episodes online and find myself surprised by all the now-famous faces I see getting their start as actors (or just getting that young paycheck in between roles) on the show. I thought I would share a few with you. Here are 10 famous folks who had a role on New York Undercover back in the day and you probably didn’t notice.
Taye Diggs – “No Greater Love”
The Brookly-bred actor who mostly talks about his days on Broadway in RENT before getting his big break in Hollywood had a role on the show in 1996. He played Stephon Phillips, the brother of a young man gunned down whose death he’s out to avenge. With his puffy Tommy Hilfiger coat, earrings and Brooklyn accent, Diggs was actually pretty convincing as a gun-toting hoodlum. Check him out at the 1:10 mark.
Last winter, we told you that Viola Davis had been cast to star in Shonda Rhimes’ new ABC thriller, “How To Get Away With Murder.” In case you missed it, the “sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller” centers around ruthless law professor Annalise DeWitt and her flock of legal students. As the storyline unfolds, Annalise and her students will find themselves wrapped up in a murder plot that could drastically alter their lives and rock the university. To make things even more interesting, Annalise is involved in a steamy extramarital affair that no one can find out about.
The supporting cast of the series includes Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry, Alfred Enoch, Karla Souza, Jack Falahee and Charlie Weber. ABC recently debuted a trailer for the series and it looks like it’s going to be a great show.
“How To Get Away With Murder” is slated to debut on ABC this fall on Thursday nights, following popular Shonda Rhimes thriller, “Scandal.” If this new show is as good as the trailer presents it to be, then Thursday nights will never be the same again!
Watch the teaser below. Does this look like something you’d be interested in checking out?
In an interview with People magazine, Academy Award nominated actress Viola Davis opened up about her journey, which included a very harrowing childhood. While she is decked in designer threads and one of Hollywood’s brightest stars now, Davis revealed that while growing up in Central Falls, R.I., her family was very poor and she rarely knew where her next meal was going to come from.
“I was one of those kids who grew up hungry. I’m 48 years old now, and it’s only been recently that I can admit that I would jump in trash bins looking for food and I would steal from the corner store because I was hungry. I would fall asleep in school on a daily basis because we had nothing.”
Davis also said that she never hung out with her friends at her family’s home because they lived in a condemned building: “It was boarded up and infested with rats.”
Davis is sharing her remarkable story because of her new partnership with the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. They are collectively working on a campaign called Hunger Is to help put the spotlight on childhood hunger.
“We have an image of hunger that comes from Africa, but this is America. And unless your belly is distended we don’t have an image of what hunger looks like here.”
According to her interview with People, food programs in Central Falls helped Davis (and her five siblings) with her situation, and without them, she wouldn’t be where she is now.
“I am the first generation of my family to go to college. Those programs made all the difference for me. It’s been cathartic for me because I always had a lot of shame with going in the garbage dumps that had maggots in it, too. It has brought healing in my life to be able to talk about it.”
There was a time when A-list movie stars wouldn’t have been caught dead doing television shows but times have surely changed. Instead of catching them on the silver screen, you can now find these actors on the small screen.
Matthew McConaughey’s first words ever uttered on the big screen were “Alright, alright, alright” in 1993’s Dazed and Confused. Since that breakout performance he’s gone on to star in over 30 movies. This month the Texas native won the Academy award for Best Actor as ladies man turned AIDS activist Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyers Club. Starring in HBO’s acclaimed series True Detective, McConaughey is an early favorite to win an Emmy for his role. If he does, he will become the first to win an Oscar for Best Actor and an Emmy in the same year.
It appears that Shonda Rhimes has been busy in the lab whipping up another hit for ABC. According to The Hollywood Reporter, two-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis has been cast to take the leading role in Shonda’s newest drama pilot for the network, “How to Get Away with Murder.”
The show is described as a “sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller” that will center around a group of ambitious law students and their brilliant criminal defense professor, who find themselves wrapped up in a murder plot that could drastically alter their lives and rock their university. Viola’s character, Annalise DeWitt, the professor who leads the flock of eager students, is pegged as “ruthless” in the courtroom and classroom. She is also described as a mega manipulator. Annalise, who is married to a psychology professor, is also carrying on a steamy affair that no one can learn about.
The script will be penned and executive produced by “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Peter Norwalk along with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers. Michael Offer will direct the pilot, which is scheduled to film in Philadelphia. Joining Viola in the pilot’s cast will be Matt McGorry, Aja Naomi King, Alfie Enoch, Karla Souza, Jack Falahee and Charlie Weber.
Sounds like a bunch of scandalous goodness waiting to unfold!
Hollywood just loves to have a white person donning a cape come in and save some poor, Black soul. While some of these White Savior movies were based on true stories, others were just made up and a little too over the top.
Sandra Bullock is known as America’s sweetheart but she won even more hearts over in the 2009 film The Blind Side. Based on the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, the film follows Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher’s life from impoverished beginnings to the NFL. Oher had nothing in his life going for him but football until a white couple, played by Bulllock and Tim McGraw, came along to adopt him. The film grossed over $300 million and Bullock earned critical acclaim and accolades for her performance. She also won a Golden Globe and the coveted Oscar gold for Best Actress.