VIOLA DAVIS (Susie Brown) is a critically
revered award-winning actress
of film, television and theater
known for her intriguingly
In one of the highest profile
pilots this season,
Davis is set as the lead of
the television drama How to
Get Away With Murder, from
ABC Studios and Shondaland.
The sexy, suspense-driven
legal thriller centers on ambitious law students and their
brilliant, mysterious criminal defense professor (Davis)
who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock
their entire university and change the course of their lives.
In 2012, Davis received an Oscar nomination for
Best Actress for her portrayal of the heartbroken but stoic
Aibileen Clark in The Help, which also starred Emma
Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer. Tate
Taylor directed the film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's
best-selling novel, that was set in Jackson, Mississippi,
during the turbulent 1960s. The Help was also nominated
for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Davis won the
Screen Actors Guild and Critics' Choice Movie awards for
Best Actress for her portrayal of Aibileen, and was also
nominated for Golden Globe and BAFTA awards. The
film won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding
Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and the Critics'
Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble.
In 2008, Davis starred in the critically revered film
Doubt, based on John Patrick Shanley's Tony Awardwinning
play, in which she portrayed Mrs. Miller, the
mother of a young boy who piques the fascination of a
Catholic priest. Davis shared the screen with Meryl Streep,
Amy Adams and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Davis
was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors
Guild Award and an Academy Award for Best Supporting
Actress. The National Board of Review recognized Davis
with the Breakthrough Performance by an Actress Award,
and she was also honored at the Santa Barbara International
Film Festival with the Virtuoso Award.
As her credits attest, Davis is in constant demand for a
wide variety of roles. Next year, she'll be seen alongside Chris
Hemsworth and Holt McCallany in Legendary Entertainment
and Universal Pictures' Untitled Michael Mann Project, a
contemporary thriller set in the world of computer hacking.
The film is set for release on January 16, 2015.
Earlier this year, Davis filmed the upcoming Lila &
Eve, in which she stars opposite Jennifer Lopez in the
story of two mothers whose children are killed in a driveby
shooting. Davis also took the reins as a producer on
this film, along with her husband, Julius Tennon, for their
company, JuVee Productions.
Formed in 2012, Davis and Tennon founded the multiethnic
production company committed to excellence in
film, television and theater. As their first film project, they
optioned the rights to Ann Weisgarber's 2008 novel "The
Personal History of Rachel DuPree," which tells the story
of DuPree, a fictional early-20th century Chicagoan who
leaves home to become a rancher's wife in South Dakota's
Badlands. In the story, neighboring white settlers rely on
each other during 1917's crippling summer drought, but
the pregnant DuPree is isolated by both race and geography.
The tale focuses on her struggle to survive and provide for
her family, and 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. Summit Entertainment released the film on
November 1, 2013. In the nightmarish Prisoners, a dark
thriller about two families shattered by the kidnapping of
their daughters on Thanksgiving Day, Davis starred alongside
Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence
Howard and Paul Dano. Alcon Entertainment and Warner
Bros. Pictures released Prisoners on September 20, 2013.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, a favorite at the 2013
Toronto International Film Festival, showed a contemporary
take on a modern marriage and featured Davis in a pivotal
role opposite Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy. The film
encompassed three points of view-Him, Her and Them-
expressed by the husband and the wife. Myriad Pictures and
Unison Films produced the film, and The Weinstein Company
acquired the film rights at the festival. In Beautiful Creatures,
released on Valentine's Day, Davis joined Emma Thompson
and Jeremy Irons in telling the tale of two teens confronting
a multigenerational curse. Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon
Entertainment produced the film.
In September 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.
In 2011, Davis co-starred with Tom Hanks and
Sandra Bullock in Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount
Pictures' 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 New York Drama Critics' Circle,
Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. Fences was
also honored with the Tony Award for Best Play Revival
and was the most profitable theater production of the year.
Davis appeared in the 20th Century Fox action comedy
Knight and Day, opposite Tom Cruise and
Cameron Diaz, for director James Mangold. It was
released on June 25, 2010. Following Knight and
Day, Davis was seen opposite Julia Roberts in Sony
Pictures' film Eat Pray Love, in which she played Roberts'
character's best friend. Also in 2010, Davis starred in Focus
Features' drama It's Kind of a Funny Story, alongside
Emma Roberts, Lauren Graham and Zach Galifianakis.
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 George C. Wolfe's
2008 drama Nights in Rodanthe, which starred Diane
Lane, Richard Gere and James Franco. The film was
released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Davis was nominated for a Film Independent Spirit
Award for Best Supporting Female in 2003 for her
performance in Antwone Fisher. Her additional film credits
include Tyler Perry's 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, as
well as Syriana, which Soderbergh executive produced for
director Stephen Gaghan.
Davis' television credits include a co-starring role in the
A&E miniseries The Andromeda Strain; a recurring role on
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; a recurring role in CBS'
made-for-television film series Jesse Stone, opposite Tom
Selleck; a starring role as Diane Barrino in The Fantasia
Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairytale for Lifetime; a starring
role on ABC's Traveler; and roles on CBS' Century City and
the Steven Bochco series City of Angels. In addition, she had
roles in Oprah Winfrey's Amy and Isabelle and Hallmark
Hall of Fame's Grace and Glorie.
In 2004, Davis starred in the Roundabout Theatre
Company's stage production of Lynn Nottage's
play Intimate Apparel, directed by Daniel Sullivan.
She garnered the highest honors for an off-Broadway
play, including Best Actress awards from the Drama Desk,
Drama League, Obie and AUDELCO, in addition to a Lucille
Lortel Award nomination. She reprised her role at the Mark
Taper Forum in Los Angeles, where she was recognized
with the LA Stage Alliance Ovation, Los Angeles Drama
Critics Circle and Backstage West Garland awards.
In 2001, Davis won a Tony Award 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 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 performance.
She resides in Los Angeles with her husband