Viola Davis Biography

(Only African-American to Achieve the Triple Crown of Acting)

Birthday: August 11, 1965 (Leo)

Born In: Saint Matthews, South Carolina, United States

Viola Davis is a renowned American actress as well as producer. Born in a poverty-stricken family, Davis worked hard to overcome her challenging early years. She ventured into acting and appeared on TV, films, and stage, earning considerable name and fame in less than a decade. She is the first black actress to win the Triple Crown of Acting—Oscar, Emmy and Tony Awards—and also the first black actress to be nominated for three ‘Academy Awards.’ Besides this, Viola Davis was also honored twice by the ‘African-American Film Critics Association.’ Appearing on screen and stage since the late-1990s, Davis earned scholarships and studied theater in New York. She first performed on stage out of New York and subsequently landed roles on small screen. Simultaneously, the actress also began playing small roles on the big screen. It was Davis’ passion and love for acting that fetched her dozens of television sitcoms and films. No doubt, both her small and big screen credits are truly remarkable, but it is on the stage where her talents have truly shone. Davis has been playing stereotypical African-American roles, adding a unique touch of her own to each and every role. The actress has also been listed as one of the hundred most influential people in the world by ‘Time’ magazine.

Quick Facts

Age: 58 Years, 58 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Julius Tennon (m. 2003)

father: Dan Davis

mother: Mary Alice Davis

children: Genesis Tennon

Born Country: United States

Actresses American Women

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Females

U.S. State: South Carolina

Notable Alumni: Rhode Island College, Juilliard School

More Facts

education: Juilliard School, Rhode Island College

Childhood & Early Life

Viola Davis was born on August 11, 1965, at her grandparents’ home in St. Matthews, South Carolina, USA.

Her father Dan Davis was a horse trainer. Her mother Mary Alice was a maid and factory worker. Mary was also a civil rights activist. Viola is the second youngest child of her parents’ six children.

Two months after Davis was born, the family moved to Rhode Island. While Davis and two of her sisters were taken to Rhode Island, her older brother and sister were left behind with their grandparents.

Her parents’ income was insufficient to support the family. They lived in abject poverty in rat-infested apartments and endured occasional food shortages.

At the age of two, Davis, along with her mother, was taken to jail after the latter was arrested during a protest.

She attended ‘Central Falls High School’ where she developed an interest in acting. Following her schooling, she studied theatre at ‘Rhode Island College,’ and graduated in 1988. After graduation, she attended the prestigious ‘Juilliard School’ in New York City.

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In 1988, Viola Davis made her Broadway debut in Joe Turner's ‘Come and Gone.’ She also appeared as a nurse in ‘The Substance of Fire.’ ‘The Substance of Fire’ marked her film debut after which she got her Screen Actors Guild card.

In 1998, she played a small role in Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Out of Sight.’

In 2001, she appeared as a woman who fights for the right to abort her pregnancy in the play ‘King Hedley II.’ Davis was honored with the ‘Tony Award’ for her performance in this Broadway play.

Davis also did many television series. One of her most notable roles was of a serial killer in an episode titled ‘Badge’ from the television show ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent.’

In 2002, this African-American beauty caught the attention of the critics when she appeared in ‘Antwone Fisher.’ In this film, she hardly had any lines, but her presence was noticeable.

In 2008, Davis's career reached great heights after she portrayed the character of ‘Mrs. Miller,’ the mother of a boy who is thought to be molested by a priest, in the film adaptation of the Broadway play ‘Doubt.’

In 2010, Viola Davis returned to stage and delivered another show-stopping performance in August Wilson's ‘Fences.’

In 2011, she appeared in the screen adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel ‘The Help.’ This film highlighted the racial divide between the white housewives and their black servants.

In 2014, she teamed up with director Tate Taylor for ‘Get on Up,’ a biopic of singer James Brown. In the movie, she played the role of the singer’s mother. The same year, she was cast as ‘Professor Annalise Keating’ in ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’

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From 2015 to 2019, she appeared in many movies like ‘Blackhat,’ ‘Custody,’ ‘Suicide Squad,’ ‘Widows,’ and ‘Troop Zero.’

In 2020, Viola Davis appeared in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and her acting feteched her an Academy Award for Best Actress nomination.

Major Works

In 2008, Viola Davis’ performance in ‘Doubt’ took her career to newer heights. Her portrayal of ‘Mrs. Miller’ made a tremendous impression, despite being a small role.

In the film adaption of Kathryn Stockett’s book ‘The Help,’ the actress appeared as the maid who gets interviewed by a white writer for a book. Her role resembled her real-life mother and grandmother; typical African women working in cotton and tobacco fields and as maids.

Awards & Achievements

In 2001, Viola Davis won the ‘Tony Award’ for ‘Best Featured Actress in a Play’ as well as the ‘Drama Desk Award’ for her portrayal of ‘Tonya’ in ‘King Hedley II.’

In the year 2010, she won the ‘Tony Award’ for ‘The Best Actress in a Play’ for her portrayal of ‘Rose Maxson’ in ‘Fences.’

In 2011, she won two ‘Screen Actors Guild Awards’ for ‘The Help.’ She won the awards in the following categories: ‘Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role’ and ‘Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.’

In 2014, Viola Davis won the ‘Screen Actors Guild Award’ for ‘Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series’ for ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’

In 2015, she won the ‘Screen Actors Guild Award’ for ‘Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series’ for ‘Fences.’ The same year, she won the ‘Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series’ for ‘How to Get Away with Murder.’

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In 2016, she won the prestigious ‘Academy Award’ for ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role’ for ‘Fences.’ The same year, she received the ‘British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ (BAFTA) for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’ for the same role.

Viola Davis is the first African-American to win five ‘Screen Actors Guild Awards.’ She also became the first black actress to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, winning the ‘Oscar,’ ‘Emmy,’ and ‘Tony.’

In 2018, she won the ‘Philadelphia Film Critics Circle Award’ for ‘Best Actress’ and ‘Seattle Film Critics Society Award’ for ‘Best Ensemble Cast’ for the film ‘Widows.’

Personal Life & Legacy

In 2003, Viola Davis married actor Julius Tennon.

In October 2011, the couple adopted a girl, who was named Genesis. Davis is the stepmother to Tennon's children from his previous relationships.

Humanitarian Work

Viola Davis has contributed a lot to her hometown Central Falls, which is situated in Rhode Island. In the year 2016, she inaugurated a community health center in Central Falls.

She has also donated a lot to the ‘Central Falls High School’ and the city’s library.


She took help from her mother for the portrayal of a maid’s character in ‘The Help.’

Davis and her daughter Genesis appeared together in ‘Get on Up.’

Viola Davis Movies

1. The Help (2011)


2. Prisoners (2013)

  (Mystery, Drama, Crime, Thriller)

3. Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

  (Crime, Thriller, Drama)

4. Traffic (2000)

  (Thriller, Drama, Crime)

5. Doubt (2008)

  (Mystery, Drama)

6. Widows (2018)

  (Crime, Drama, Thriller)

7. Fences (2016)


8. Far from Heaven (2002)

  (Romance, Drama)

9. Antwone Fisher (2002)

  (Biography, Drama)

10. State of Play (2009)

  (Mystery, Drama, Thriller)


Academy Awards(Oscars)
2017 Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Fences (2016)
Golden Globe Awards
2017 Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Fences (2016)
Primetime Emmy Awards
2015 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series How to Get Away with Murder (2014)
BAFTA Awards
2017 Best Supporting Actress Fences (2016)
People's Choice Awards
2015 Favorite Actress in a New TV Series Winner

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