Viola Davis is now an Oscar Award-winning actress who started from the bottom. Born in 1965, Davis began her on-stage career in 1993 and won an Obie Award in 1999. After playing many minor and supporting roles, the “How to Get Away With Murder” actress has gone on to win several awards and is the first black woman in history to win an Emmy, Tony, and Academy Award for acting. From the outhouse to an Oscar, Davis shines bright like a diamond.
Davis is the second of six children who remembers a time when success for her family was the ability to afford one meal a day. Born on her grandmother’s farm in South Carolina, within months she and her family moved to Rhode Island. Her struggle for self-acceptance began as a young child and followed her through college. From being dark-skinned to poor and all the things such as odor from being unkempt tormented her for years.
Until the age of 18, the Golden Globe winner lived in a condemned building with her parents and siblings in Central Falls, RI. They were one of few African-American families to live in the working-class town. Her family was poor and lived below poverty level. When speaking of that time in her life, Davis said:
The food stamps we received at the first of each month paid for a grocery run, but the food soon ran out, and that was it. Most of the time, the school lunch was the only meal I had. I would befriend kids whose mothers cooked three meals a day and go to their homes when I could. Other times, I rummaged through garbage dumps and stole food from the store, slipping items down the front of my pants — until the day I got caught.
Davis, who was nine-years-old at the time, said the shame she felt after the owner of the store looked at her like she was nothing while yelling for her to leave made her stop stealing. As a true testament of one who started from the bottom, the Tony-Award winning actress, remembers times in the winter with a broken furnace and frozen pipes not being able to bathe. She and her family would huddle together to get warm with scarves wrapped around their necks hoping to avoid rat bites. From the pit to the palace, Viola shines bright like a diamond.
The up-and-coming queen of the screen recalls a passion for acting during her teen years. She attended Central Falls High School and then went on to study at Rhode Island College, majoring in theater. Davis received an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from the college in 2002. After her graduation from Rhode Island, she attended the Juilliard School for four years.
Davis appeared in numerous films and television series from the 1990s to early 2000s, and in 2001, won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Tonya in the original production of “King Hedley II.” Her film breakthrough came in 2008 with her role in the drama “Doubt” alongside the fan favorite, Meryl Streep. Davis found greater success in 2010 after winning a Tony Award for her role as Rose Maxson in August Wilson’s play “Fences.”
Ironically, it is the same role, however, this time in the movie titled “Fences” then earned the actress her first Oscar win on last night. True to her style, the Oscar was accompanied by an award-winning acceptance speech from the grateful actress. Her journey has not been easy and often thankless, but by following her heart and remaining true to her calling.
To date, Davis has achieved the Triple Crown of Acting: winning a competitive Emmy, Tony, and Oscar in acting categories. She is also the first African-American actress and the first woman of color to win five Screen Actors Guild Awards. Congratulations Viola! From the outhouse to an Oscar, fans can hardly wait to see her next set of victories. Viola Davis started from the bottom …. now she is here.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Huffington Post: Viola Davis Just Became The First Black Woman To Win An Oscar, Emmy And Tony For Acting
Time: The World’s 100 Most Influential People: 2012 – Viola Davis
Black Enterprise: Viola Davis Talks Growing Up Hungry, Poor and Ashamed
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Inline Image by ABC/Image Group LA Courtesy of Disney | ABC Television Group – Flickr License