BHM Heroes: Viola Davis

During the month of February, BRTW ensemble members are selecting personal Black heroes to highlight everyday. These heroes may have spoken the magic words that first made them see their Black beauty, the people who inspired them to become artists, or even the person who taught them how to make proper mixed greens.

Viola Freaking Davis. What more can I say? I mean we share the same surname so she has to be amazing.

Viola Davis is a Film, Television and Theatre actor. She is most known for her work in the films “Doubt” and “The Help” which have resulted in her two Oscar nominations. Viola Davis was born in South Carolina in 1965. She became inspired to become an actor after watching Cicely Tyson in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Viola mentions that she was inspired by the craft and art of acting rather than the glitz and glamour of it. She studied at the Juilliard school for Drama and graduated in 1993. Shortly after that she began booking minor TV roles and putting on award winning performances on the stage. She has taken on many of the great works of August Wilson including her Tony award winning performance in King Hedley II. She can be seen in a number of films coming in the near future as well as starring in the hit drama, “How To Get Away With Murder”.

I first discovered Viola in the film “Doubt”. She played a distraught mom who had just gotten news that her son may have been abused by the school’s priest. She brought so much truth, pathos and complexity to such a small part in a movie that starred the inimitable Philip Seymour Hoffman and the amazing Meryl Streep. I remember thinking that she was incredible. She stood out. She left an indelible impression on me. I looked her up only to find that she had been grinding for a while. She inspires me with her candor and bravery in the way she openly speaks about women and Blacks in the arts. She has made great strides on the battle for black voices in arts with her blistering comments towards racism and sexism in Hollywood. As well as her openness about her “nontraditional beauty” in “traditional beauty roles”. She is a strong woman in all its glory. A woman who can feel pain, administer relief and ponder quandaries. A woman who can be an emotional, 3 dimensional, complex individual, without being a stereotype or caricature. She reminds me of my mother. Which to me, is the greatest compliment that I can bestow on a person.

Thank you for being such a powerhouse in art and in life in general. On this day among many days BRTW salutes you, Viola Davis!

– Jovan Davis
Producing/Ensemble Member