American actress Viola Davis, 51, bagged the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her performance as Rose Maxson in Fences, the film adaptation of a Pulitzer-winning play of August Wilson. The recognition is a milestone, as she is the first black woman to bag an Oscar.
Davis has had a pattern of getting nominations during the past years from prestigious award-giving bodies that include the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Academy Award. This proved to be her year, as she garnered the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her impressive acting in Fences, apart from her Oscar win.
Davis took a moment to express gratitude to the late black playwright August Wilson, for placing a man of color at the center of the narrative that has crossed over to the big screen.
Besting Strong Contenders
Davis bested Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) and Naomie Harris (Moonlight) for the Best Supporting Actress award. Viola Davis, later on, tweeted, “I look around and God has blessed my life in abundance. Thank you to The Academy!”
In her acceptance speech, Davis enthused, “I became an artist and thank God I did because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” Just like at the SAG Awards, she paid tribute to writer August Wilson for exalting the ordinary people.
Davis also thanked her director and co-star Denzel Washington. The latter also delivered a remarkable performance as Troy Maxson, who bitterly draws the lines between him and his immediate family members, particularly his son.
Giving riveting performances on television and in film has earned for the actress several accolades. In 2015, Davis won an Emmy for How to Get Away With Murder, emerging as the first black woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. She has also won a couple of Tonys.
Her Humble Origins
Davis hails from a family who experienced abject poverty. Her father was a horse trainer and her mother handled multiple jobs as a factory worker, maid, factory, and homemaker. Her mom was also a civil rights activist.
Viola Davis graduated from the Juilliard School and embarked on a career on stage, before moving on to play supporting and minor roles in several films and television series. She was cast in Kate & Leopold (2001) and Far from Heaven (2002), and the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.