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Viola Davis

with husband Julius Tennon at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009
Born August 11, 1965 (1965-08-11) (age 44)
St. Matthews, South Carolina, United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present
Spouse(s) Julius Tennon (2003-present)

Viola Davis (born August 11, 1965) is an American actress. Davis is known primarily as a stage actress, and won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play and a Drama Desk Award for her role in King Hedley II (2001). She won a second Drama Desk Award for Intimate Apparel (2004).

Her films include Traffic (2000), Antwone Fisher (2002), and Solaris (2002). Her performance in Doubt (2008) brought widespread recognition and she was nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.

Contents

Early life

Davis was born on her grandmother's farm in St. Matthews, South Carolina, the daughter of Mary and Dan Davis;[1][2] Her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island when she was two months old.

Davis majored in theatre at Rhode Island College, graduating in 1988; in 2002 she received an honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the college.[3] Her involvements in Upward Bound and Student Support Services were important steps in her academic and social development. As a teenager, Davis's talent was recognized by Bernard Masterson when, as director of Young People's School for the Performing Arts in Rhode Island, he awarded Davis a scholarship into that program.

She also attended the Juilliard School for four years, characterizing the experience as a "mixed blessing":[2]

I'm happy that I went there. The school does what it says it wants to do, which is to stretch you as an actor, make you break old habits, expand you and make you more versatile. The problem is that it doesn't celebrate the individual. It stifles everything about you that makes you uniquely you.

Career

In 2001, she was awarded the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Tonya in King Hedley II, a "35-year-old mother fighting eloquently for the right to abort a pregnancy."[4] She has also received two Drama Desk Awards, for her work in King Hedley II and, in 2004, for her work in an off-Broadway production of Intimate Apparel.

Davis has also had roles in numerous films, including three films by Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight, Solaris and Traffic). Viola is also the uncredited voice of the parole board interrogator who questions Danny Ocean (George Clooney) in the first scene in Ocean's Eleven. She also gave brief performances in the films Kate & Leopold and Antwone Fisher. Her television work includes a recurring role in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; a starring role in the short-lived Traveler; and a special guest appearance in "Badge", a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode.

In 2008, Davis played Mrs. Miller in the film adaption to the Broadway play, Doubt with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. She was nominated for several awards for this performance, including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

On June 30, 2009, Davis was inducted into The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Quote

In a September 2004 article published in American Theatre magazine, Davis commented on her frustration with casting directors who still think in broad racial stereotypes:[4]

When I graduated from Juilliard, I remember thinking that there was no difference between me and any other student in the school; I wanted to do what they were doing. I want to do what Meryl Streep is doing....[W]hen you see black movies, they're always urban and funny, with pretty much the same actors, which is not a bad thing. The travesty is when you're not that: I don't speak Ebonics. I'm too old to be a homegirl. I'm not funny like that—sitcom, WB-UPN funny. So if I'm not that, then sometimes to the acting community you can be considered nothing, as opposed to being a wide range of things.

Personal life

Davis has been married to actor Julius Tennon since June 2003. They have two children from Tennon's previous relationships.[5]

Filmography

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1996 The Substance of Fire Nurse
1998 Out of Sight Moselle
2000 Traffic Social Worker
2001 The Shrink Is In Robin
Kate & Leopold Policewoman
2002 Far from Heaven Sybil
Antwone Fisher Eva May Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
Solaris Gordon Nominated — Black Reel Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
2005 Get Rich or Die Tryin' Grandma
Syriana CIA Chairwoman uncredited
2006 The Architect Tonya Neely
World Trade Center Mother in hospital
2007 Disturbia Detective Parker
2008 Nights in Rodanthe Jean
Doubt Mrs. Miller African American Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Black Reel Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Award for Breakthrough Performance by an Actress
St. Louis Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated —Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated — Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Online Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role - Motion Picture
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Vancouver Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
2009 Madea Goes to Jail Ellen
State of Play Dr. Judith Franklin
Law Abiding Citizen Mayor of Philadelphia
2010 Knight & Day forthcoming film
Eat, Pray, Love Delia forthcoming film
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1996 NYPD Blue Woman Episode: "Moby Greg"
New York Undercover Mrs. Stapleton Episode: "Smack is Back"
1998 The Pentagon Wars Platoon Sgt. Fanning
Grace & Glorie Rosemary Allbright
2000 Judging Amy Celeste Episode: "Blast from the Past"
City of Angels Nurse Lynnette Peeler 19 episodes
2001 Amy & Isabelle Dottie
Providence Dr. Eleanor Weiss Episode: "You Can Count On Me"
The Guardian Episode: "The Men from the Boys"
Third Watch Margo Rodriguez Episode: "Act Brave"
2002 Father Lefty
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Terry Randolph Episode: "Badge"
The Division Dr. Georgia Davis Episode: "Remembrance"
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Attorney Campbell Episode: "The Execution of Catherine Willows"
2003 Hack Stevie Morgan Episode: "Third Strike"
The Practice Aisha Crenshaw Episode: "We the People"
2004 Century City Hannah Crane 9 episodes
2005 Stone Cold Molly Crane
Threshold Victoria Rossi Episode: "Shock"
2006 Jessie Stone: Night Passage Molly Crane
Jessie Stone: Death in Paradise Molly Crane
Without a Trace Audrey Williams Episode: "White Balance"
Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story Diane Barrino
2007 Fort Pit
Jesse Stone: Sea Change Molly Crane
Traveler Agent Jan Marlow 8 episodes
2008 Brothers & Sisters Ellen Snyder Episode: "Double Negative"
The Andromeda Strain Dr. Charlene Barton
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Donna Emmett 7 episodes from 2003 until 2008
2009 United States of Tara Lynda 6 episodes, season 2

References

External links

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