Happy birthday to the wonderful Viola Davis, who was born on August 11, 1965. She is one of those rare actresses who have triumphed in all three major media — on film (“Fences,” “The Help,” “Widows”), on stage in “King Hedley II” and “Fences” and on television with “How To Get Away With Murder.” Having been a struggling young actress for so long, usually being cast as authority figures thanks for her strong personality, when the time came for her big break, Davis was ready.
For her film work, Davis has won an Academy Award (“Fences”) from three nominations (“Doubt,” “The Help”). She has also earned three BAFTA and Golden Globe Award nominations, winning both awards for “Fences,” as well as winning three Screen Actors Guild Awards from six nominations. For her TV work, Davis has received five Emmy nominations and one win for her character in “How To Get Away With Murder,” a Golden Globe from three nominations for her performance on the ABC series, as well as two Screen Actors Guild Awards. In addition, she has won two Tony Awards from three nominations in August Wilson plays — a Featured Actress Tony for 2001’s “King Hedley II” and a Lead Actress Tony for her performance in the 2010 revival of “Fences,” a performance for which she won a Supporting Actress Oscar for the 2016 film version. Davis is the first African-American actor to capture the Triple Crown of Acting — the Emmy, the Oscar and the Tony.
Davis is taking a well-deserved rest (maybe a play?) but won’t be returning to the nation’s screens until the 2021 reunion of “Suicide Squad.” Until then, let’s raise a glass to the great lady and celebrate her birthday by ranking her 12 best screen performances from worst to best.
– Original text and gallery published in August 2019.