Viola Davis is an American actress best known for her role as Mrs. Miller in the film adaption of the Broadway play Doubt, for which she was nominated for several awards including a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She is also known for her starring role as Professor Annalise Keating, J.D., a high-profile defence attorney who becomes embroiled in a murder mystery, in the legal thriller television series How to Get Away with Murder.
Davis reteamed with Tate Taylor (The Help) on the James Brown biopic Get on Up. Chadwick Boseman plays the "Godfather of Soul" as the picture chronicles James Brown's rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history. Davis stars as James' mother, Susie Brown.
In 2012, Davis received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of the heart-broken but stoic Aibileen Clark in The Help. Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer also star. 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 recognised her with the Breakthrough Award and she was also honoured by the Santa Barbara Film Festival as a Virtuoso.
She can be seen in director Michael Mann's Cyber, a contemporary thriller set in the world of computer hacking which also stars Chris Hemsworth and Holt McCallany.
In Lila & Eve, which filmed in 2014, Davis stars opposite Jennifer Lopez in the story of two mothers whose children are killed in a drive-by. Davis also took the reins as a producer on this film, along with her husband, Julian Tennon, for their company, JuVee Productions.
Formed in 2012, Davis and her husband founded a multi-ethnic production company, JuVee Productions, committed to excellence in film, television, and theatre. As their first project, they have optioned the rights to Ann Weisgarber's 2008 book The Personal History of Rachel DuPree.
DuPree, a fictional early 20th-century Chicagoan, leaves home to become a rancher's wife in South Dakota's Badlands. The neighbouring white settlers rely on each other during 1917's crippling summer drought, but the pregnant DuPree is isolated by both race and geography. The story focuses on her struggle to survive and provide for her family, but also examines the harsh racial struggles facing the rarely-explored lives of black pioneers.
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 the nightmarish 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.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, a contemporary take on a modern marriage and a favourite at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, featured Davis in a pivotal role opposite Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. There are three films (Him, Her and Them), told from the point of view of the husband and the wife.
In Beautiful Creatures, released on Valentine's Day, Davis joined Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons in telling the tale of two teens confronting a multi-generational curse. Warner Bros. and Alcon produced the film.
On September 28, 2012, Davis starred alongside Maggie Gyllenhaal and Holly Hunter in Won't Back Down, a film that focused on two women who struggle to make a difference at a local school. She also co-starred with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a post 9/11 story directed by Stephen Daldry and nominated for Best Picture at the 2012 Academy Awards.
Theater audiences saw Davis star alongside Denzel Washington in the Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences in 2010. Her portrayal of Rose Maxson brought her a Tony Award, as well as the Drama Critics' Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award.
Fences was also honoured with the Tony Award for Best Play Revival and was the most profitable theater production of the year.
On June 25, 2010, Davis appeared in the 20th Century Fox action-comedy Knight and Day opposite Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, for director James Mangold. Following Knight and Day, on August 13, Davis was seen opposite Julia Roberts in the Sony Pictures film Eat, Pray, Love in which she plays Roberts' best friend in the role of Delia.
On October 8, Davis starred alongside Emma Roberts, Lauren Graham and Zach Galifianakis in the Focus Features drama, It's Kind of a Funny Story.
That same year, Davis had a six-episode arc in the Showtime 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).
Her film credits also include the 2008 drama Nights in Rodanthe, directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere and James Franco. The film was released by Warner Bros.
Davis won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female in 2003 for her performance in Antwone Fisher.
Additional film appearances include Madea Goes to Jail, State of Play, Law Abiding Citizen, Disturbia, The Architect, Get Rich or Die Tryin' and Far From Heaven. She worked with director Steven Soderbergh on Solaris, Traffic and Out of Sight, and in Syriana, which Soderbergh produced for director Stephen Gaghan.
Davis' television credits include a co-starring role in the A&E mini-series The Andromeda Strain, a recurring role on Law & Order: SVU, a recurring role in the CBS mini-series franchise Jesse Stone opposite Tom Selleck, a starring role as Diane Barrino in Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story for Lifetime, a starring role in ABC's Traveler, CBS' Century City, Lefty, and the Steven Bochco series, City of Angels.
In addition, she had roles in Oprah Winfrey's Amy and Isabelle, and the Hallmark Hall of Fame's Grace and Glorie.
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 honours 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 recognised 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.