Viola Davis

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Award-Winning Actress, Producer, and New York Times Bestselling Author

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Viola Davis: Biography at a Glance

  • Viola Davis is an award-winning actress best known for How to Get Away With Murder and The Help.
  • She can be seen in The Woman King, the highly anticipated historical epic about a group of female warriors led by Davis' character.
  • Viola is just the third Black woman in history to earn the coveted EGOT status, achieved by winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award.
  • She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Fences, received nominations for her roles in The Help and Doubt, and is also a two-time Tony Award winner for King Hedley II and Fences. 
  • She is also the first African American woman to win the Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role as "Annalise DeWitt" on the ABC series How to Get Away With Murder.
  • Viola is the author of the bestselling memoir, Finding Me, detailing her journey from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. The audiobook was Grammy-nominated for Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording.
  • She and her husband recently launched a book publisher, JVL Media, with the goal of bringing inclusion and innovation to the book world.
  • From the lectern, she discusses her career and how overcoming adversities and preconceived restrictions has contributed to becoming a stronger woman.



Viola Davis is a critically revered, award-winning actress, producer, and New York Times Best-Selling Author. She is the first black actress to win two Tony Awards (“Fences” & “King Hedley II”), an Oscar (“Fences”), and an Emmy (“How to Get Away with Murder”). She also achieved EGOT status by winning a Grammy for the audiobook recording of her memoir “Finding Me.”

Davis was most recently seen portraying Nanisca in “The Woman King.” Based on true events and produced by Davis’ JuVee Productions, the film tells the story of a general of an all-female West African military.

In 2021, Davis received an Oscar nomination for her transformative performance as Ma Rainey in Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” She also won a SAG award for the role and received a Golden Globe Award nomination and Critic’s Choice Award nomination.

In 2019, Davis wrapped the final season of the ABC series “How to Get Away with Murder,” from ABC Studios and Shondaland. 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 actress 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 and in 2019, received her third Emmy Nomination for the role. In 2019, Davis was also seen in Amazon Studio’s family comedy, “Troop Zero,” directed by Bert & Bertie. 

In 2018, Davis was seen staring in Fox’s “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. 

In 2017, she was seen in “Fences” for Paramount Pictures. The film was directed and produced by Denzel Washington and was adapted from August Wilson’s play. Davis garnered Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and an Academy award 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. 

In 2016, 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 this film, along with her husband, Julius Tennon, for their company, JuVee Productions. 

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. 

In 2012, Davis and her husband founded JuVee, 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.

In 2012, Davis received an Oscar nomination for “Best Actress” for her portrayal of the heartbroken but stoic ‘Aibileen Clark’ in “The Help.” Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Octavia Spencer also starred. The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling 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.

That same year, Davis had a six-episode arc in 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” for her performance in “Antwone Fisher.” Additional film credits include, “Get On Up,” “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,” “Out of Sight,” and “Syriana,” which Soderbergh produced for director Stephen Gaghan.

In 2004, Davis starred on 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. 


Finding Me: A Conversation With Viola Davisarrow-down

A conversation with Viola Davis is an experience - one that allows you to deeply reflect and closely examine your own life without the competition or judgment of the outside world.

Viola serves an intimate, unpolished account of her own journey from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. In telling these stories, she shares how she discovered her purpose and found her voice in a world that didn’t always see her and inspires audiences to light up their own life with creative expression and rediscover who they were before the world put a label on them.


Authentic. Honest. Raw. Hands down the most impactful speaker I have ever seen. Viola represents the best of humanity despite coming out of extremely tough circumstances. I was so moved by her story and her delivery kept the entire room captivated. Her message of owning our stories is one that resonates with anyone. Viola gave all of us the gift of some great insights and times to use in our every day lives.

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