Viola Davis is already one of the greatest actresses of all time - as she redefines what a lead actor is
Not even letting us breathe after the release of her latest movie, Widows, Viola Davis shared news about her new role as the trailblazing U.S. politician, Shirley Chisholm, in The Fighting Shirley Chisholm. She will both star in and produce the film.
This is yet another highlight and historical moment that marks her illustrious career as an actress.
And we love her truth bombs and encouraging words not just for black women in the industry but for anyone trying to get a leg up.
She reminded us of that when she shared the news of playing Shirley Chisholm, she quoted her saying: "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."
We need more mainstream actresses like Viola, she is important. This is why:
Viola reportedly discovered her passion for acting in high school and subsequently earned scholarships to study theatre at Rhode Island College in and the prestigious Julliard in New York. But, her life story began way before this.
She has been open about the difficult childhood she had with her family who didn’t have much money or the ability to provide food. In a Glamour magazine interview she said, “I was always so hungry and ashamed, I couldn't tap into my potential. I couldn't get at the business of being me.”
Fast forward to years later, Viola land her debut role in 1996 as a nurse in the film The Substance of Fire. This was followed by guest roles in a few movies, TV shows and Broadway performances – and she soon started to be nominated for one award after the other.
She subsequently won quite a few of them as her industry began to increasingly recognise her talent.
She won one of the biggest film awards last year, an Oscar, for her role in the movie Fences. An article in Today notes that Viola Davis is the first black person to ever achieve what is known as a “triple crown” – she has won a Tony, Emmy and an Oscar award.
Other notable productions she has acted in include The help, Doubt and the hit TV series, How To Get Away With Murder.
When she won the Emmy award for her role in How To Get Away With Murder in 2015 she spoke these profound words: “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity.”
Viola Davis has spoken out about many important issues such race, unequal pay, gender inequality and self-image.
At the 2018 Glamour Women Of The Year Awards where she was honoured, Viola spoke honestly and powerfully. She said: “I say perfectionism is driving the car and shame is riding shot gun and fear is that nagging backseat driver, that [being] willing to own your story and share it.
"And I will tell you one thing, you might as well put the bow and arrow behind you, and the sword, because you will be the most courageous person in the world. That’s what my work inspires, that’s what my production company inspires.”
Viola Davis does not only play outstanding women on movies and television, she is one herself. She is an overflowing cup of inspiration.
Do you think black artists like Viola Davis are finally getting the recognition they deserve? Chat to us here.
Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.