Viola Davis (born August 11, 1965) is an American producer and actress of stage, screen, and television. After graduating from the Juilliard School in 1993, Davis began her career on stage and 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, including the films Kate & Leopold (2001) and Far from Heaven (2002), and the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2001, she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Tonya in the original production of King Hedley II.
Davis’ film breakthrough came in 2008 when her supporting role in the drama Doubt earned her several nominations, including the Golden Globe, SAG, and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Greater success came to Davis in the 2010s. She won 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 Aibeleen Clark in the comedy-drama The Help (2011), she received nominations for the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and the Academy Award for Best Actress, and won a SAG Award.In 2016, Davis played Amanda Waller in the superhero action film Suicide Squad and reprised her role as Rose Maxson in the film adaptation of Fences, for which she has won the Golden Globe, SAG Award, and Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress. Davis’ portrayal has also garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. With the nomination, Davis has become the first black woman in history to be nominated for three Academy Awards.
Since 2014, Davis plays lawyer Annalise Keating in the ABC drama How to Get Away with Murder, and in 2015 she became the first black woman of any nationality to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Her portrayal also won her two SAG Awards in 2015 and 2016. In 2012, she was listed by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, are the founders of the production company JuVee Productions. Davis has starred in their productions Lila & Eve (2015) and Custody (2016).