Born: 11 August 1965
Birthplace: Saint Matthews, South Carolina
Best known as:
The star of the TV show How To Get Away With Murder
Actress Viola Davis has worked steadily on stage and screen since the late 1990s, winning a Tony Award for the leading role in King Hedley II (2001) and an Oscar nomination for a supporting role in Doubt (2008). Raised in poverty in Rhode Island, she earned scholarships and studied theater at Rhode Island College and at the Julliard School in New York. First working out of New York, she performed on stage while landing occasional roles in television shows and small roles in feature films. Despite her Tony award and dozens of appearances in television and film, she was considered an unknown when nominated for an Oscar in 2009. Over the years, Davis has been tapped frequently for stereotypical African-American roles, often bringing a dignified maturity to even small parts. She's also demonstrated she has the chops to work with the top names in the business -- appearing in a few Steven Soderbergh films (Out of Sight, Traffic and Solaris), working with Denzel Washington in Antoine Fisher (2002) and staying on a par with Oscar-winners Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in Doubt. Her other films include Far From Heaven (2002, starring Julianne Moore), the remake of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain (2008, starring Benjamin Bratt) and the comedy Medea Goes to Jail (2009, starring Tyler Perry). Viola Davis was nominated for an Oscar as best actress for her leading role in the 2011 film The Help. In 2015 she won an Emmy as outstanding lead actress in a dramatic series for her portrayal of Annalise Keating, the tough criminal defense attorney and professor in How to Get Away with Murder. She is the first black actress to win the Emmy in that category.
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