Viola Davis
Birth Date:
August 11, 1965
Birth Place:
Saint Matthews, South Carolina, USA
5' 5
Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island, USA (majored in theatre; graduated in 2002)
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Century City Lady


"We grew up in abject poverty. Acting, writing scripts and skits were a way of escaping our environment at a very young age." Viola Davis

Tony-winning actress Viola Davis, who was credited in such plays as “Seven Guitars,” “Everybody's Ruby,” “As You Like It,” “House of Lear,” “Intimate Apparel” and “God's Heart,” received rave reviews for her performance in August Wilson's play “King Hedley II” in 2001. She has appeared in the films Traffic (2000), Antwone Fisher (2002), Far from Heaven (2002), Solaris (2002), The Architect (2006), and the recently-released Disturbia (2007). On the small screen, the 5' 5" tall African-American player was a regular on CBS’ medical drama “City of Angels” and CBS' science fiction legal drama series “Century City.” She had a recurring role on NBC's police procedural drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and is currently filming the upcoming TV series pilot called “Ft. Pit.” Additionally, she will appear on ABC’s forthcoming midseason show, "Traveler," which will premiere on May 30, 2007.

Juilliard Grad

Childhood and Family:

Born in Saint Matthews, South Carolina, on August 11, 1965, Viola Davis grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father, Dan Davis, worked as a horse groomer for the Narrangasett and Lincoln Downs racetracks. Her mother’s name is Mary Davis.

Davis attended Rhode Island College, in Providence, Rhode Island, and majored in theater. She also studied drama at the Juilliard School, in New York, New York. She has been married to Julius Tennon since June 23, 2003, and has 2 children.

King Hedley II Star


Juilliard School graduate Viola Davis landed her feature-film debut in 1996 with a small part as a nurse in Daniel J. Sullivan's adaptation of Jon Robin Baitz's Holocaust play, “The Substance of Fire,” starring Tony Goldwyn, Timothy Hutton and Sarah Jessica Parker. She followed it up with guest-star appearances on ABC’s Emmy-winning cop drama “NYPD Blue” and Fox's one-hour urban police drama “New York Undercover.” That same year, she gained success on Broadway when she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance in August Wilson’s play, "Seven Guitars."

Davis also appeared in the made-for-TV movies The Pentagon Wars and Grace & Glorie (both in 1998) and returned to the big screen in Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-nominated movie based on the novel by Elmore Leonard, Out of Sight, starring George Clooney. In 1999, Davis scored her first big break when she received an Obie Award for her performance in the Off-Broadway play “Everybody's Ruby.”

Entering the new millennium, Davis secured a regular role as Nurse Lynnette Peeler on CBS’ January-December medical drama “City of Angels,” alongside Vivica A. Fox, Blair Underwood and Michael Warren. She also reunited with Soderbergh in the director’s two films, the award-winning crime/drama Traffic (starring Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, Don Cheadle, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid) and Solaris (starring George Clooney and Natascha McElhone), which was based on the science fiction novel by Stanisław Lem. Her supporting role as Gordon in the latter film earned her a nomination at the Black Reel Awards.

Meanwhile, she appeared in James Mangold's Oscar-nominated romantic comedy Kate & Leopold (starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman) and in Oprah Winfrey's TV presentation of Elizabeth Strout's best-selling coming-of-age novel, Amy & Isabelle (starring Elisabeth Shue and Hanna Hall; shown on ABC). She also enjoyed her biggest success on stage to date by winning a 2001 Tony Award for Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for her performance in August Wilson's "King Hedley II." The play, set in 1980s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also featured Brian Stokes Mitchell, Leslie Uggams and theatre veteran Charles Brown.

Following her Broadway victory, Davis received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female for her turn in Denzel Washington’s directorial debut, Antwone Fisher (2002), a biopic about the former Sony Pictures security guard-turned-acclaimed writer and Hollywood producer. That same year, she also acted opposite Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid in writer-director Todd Haynes' Oscar-nominated drama film set in suburban 1950s Connecticut, Far from Heaven.

From 2003 to 2006, Davis portrayed the recurring role of Donna Emmett on NBC's police procedural drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." During that time, she also played Hannah Crane (2004), the founder and senior partner of the legal team of Crane, Constable, McNeil & Montero, on CBS' science fiction-legal drama series "Century City." She also appeared as a grandmother in Jim Sheridan's semi-autobiographical film about rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Get Rich or Die Tryin', and as a CIA chairwoman in writer-director Stephen Gaghan's Oscar-winning geopolitical thriller film starring George Clooney, Syriana, loosely adapted from Robert Baer's memoir "See No Evil." Meanwhile, she continued working on stage and won the 2005 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance in the play "Intimate Apparel" at the Mark Taper Forum in September 2004.

2006 saw Davis in two Jesse Stone TV movies, Night Passage and its sequel, Death in Paradise, playing Molly Crane. She also portrayed the American Idol winner's mother in the Lifetime's biopic Life Is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story. Moviegoers caught her as a pragmatic activist in The Architect, opposite Anthony LaPaglia, and as a mother in Oliver Stone's dramatic film based on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, World Trade Center, starring Nicolas Cage.

Davis’ latest film project, Disturbia, a thriller film by director D.J. Caruso starring Shia LaBeouf, was recently released on April 13, 2007. She is currently filming the upcoming TV series pilot called “Ft. Pit’ and the next sequel to the Jesse Stone TV movie, Sea Change. She is also set to appear on ABC’s forthcoming midseason show, "Traveler," which will premiere on May 30, 2007, at 10 pm.


  • Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle: "Intimate Apparel," 2005

  • Tony: Best Actress (Featured Role - Play), "King Hedley II," 2001

  • Obie: "Everybody's Ruby," 1999

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