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Viola Davis (born August 11, 1965) is an American actress and producer. She is the first black actor to have won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award in acting, named the Triple Crown of Acting.
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 supporting and 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 August Wilson’s King Hedley II in 2001. Davis’s film breakthrough came in 2008, when her supporting role in the drama Doubt earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Greater success came to Davis in the 2010s; she won several accolades, beginning with the 2010 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her role as Rose Maxson in the revival of August Wilson’s play Fences. For her lead role as 1960s housemaid Aibileen Clark in the comedy-drama The Help (2011), Davis received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won a SAG 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 for her performance. In 2016, Davis played Amanda Waller in the superhero film Suicide Squad and reprised the role of Rose Maxson in the film adaptation of Fences, the latter of which earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2018, Davis starred as Veronica Rawlings in Steve McQueen’s heist film Widows, for which she was BAFTA nominated.
Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, are founders of 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. She identifies as a feminist. In 2012 and 2017, she was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
2015–present: How to Get Away with Murder
On September 20, 2015, Davis became the first black woman of any nationality to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her lead role on How to Get Away with Murder. She received a second Primetime Emmy Award nomination for the role in 2016. Davis also won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in 2014 and 2015. She received nominations from the Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress – Television Series Drama and Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her performance on the show.