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1. Viola is the fourth child in the family of six.
2. Born in South Carolina, she grew up in poverty in Rhode Island.
3. She earned a degree in Theatre from Rhode Island College in 1988 and then proceeded to enroll in the prestigious Juilliard School Of Performing Arts in New York City and graduated in 1993.
4. She was listed as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2002.
5. Her roles in Doubt and The Help earned her both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.
6. She was awarded a Tony award for Best Featured Actress In A Play for her role on Broadway in the play, ‘King Hedley II’
7. Viola was inducted into The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in 2009.
8. She married actor Julius Tennon in June of 2003. The couple adopted a daughter in 2011.
9. She married actor Julius Tennon in June of 2003. The couple adopted a daughter in 2011.
10. In 2014, she began starring as Annalise Keating in the TV series How to Get Away with Murder.
11. She further received her Hollywood Work Of Fame in 2013.
12. She received a honorary doctorate in Fine Arts from her alma mata – Rhode Island College in 2002.
13. During her honeymoon, herself and her husband stayed in George Clooney’s Italian estate on Lake Camo.
14. She is a stepmother to two sons from her husband’s previous relationships.
15. “Although my childhood was filled with many happy memories, it was also spent in abject poverty,” she said in a moving, emotional speech at the Variety magazine Power of Women event in 2014. “I was one of the 17 million kids in this country who didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, and I did everything to get food. I have stolen for food. I have jumped in huge garbage bins with maggots for food. I have befriended people in the neighborhood, who I knew had mothers who cooked three meals a day for food, and I sacrificed a childhood for food and grew up in immense shame.”
16. Before her Hollywood breakout and Oscar for Best Actress nomination in 2011’s The Help, Viola Davis already had an impressive awards record from Broadway. She won two Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards for the plays King Hedley II, Intimate Apparel and Fences. And though she only appeared in the 2008 movie Doubt for 11 minutes, she earned her first Oscar nomination (for Best Supporting Actress) that way.
17. Adopting daughter Genesis with actor husband Julius Tennon in 2011, Davis has already set up her girl with a famous little guy. Asked if there’s anyone she’d like Genesis to date when the time was right, the actress knew just who to pick: Sandra Bullock’s son, Louis Bardo. “Louis would be the one,” she has said.
18. One of the most raw, chilling and raved-about scenes from Viola Davis’ new show How to Get Away with Murder is when her character Annalise gets ready for bed methodically, removing her makeup, jewelry and wig, and then calmly confronts her husband and his involvement with a murdered girl. As she told Ellen DeGeneres, Viola Davis came up with the idea to remove not just her makeup but her wig, to portray realism that is rarely represented for black women.
19. She’s wowed in designs by Jason Wu, Marchesa and Thierry Mugler at recent red carpet events, but Davis insists her put-together look is all an act. “I am not a glam woman,” the actress confessed to Us at the Academy Awards Nominations luncheon earlier this month. “This is definitely a mask I put on for the public!” And don’t expect to see Davis in any bathing suit photo shoots any time soon. “My biggest fear is that paparazzi with some lens is going to come in my backyard and see me when I get in my pool!” she joked to Us. “That would be very unfortunate!”
20. Known primarily for her stage work, one of the actress’ favorite roles is her controversial gig as serial killer Terry Randolph on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Taking on the role in 2002, Davis brought the character to life on her own terms. “I find when you seek the approval of other people, you’re putting your joy in someone else’s hands, and I can’t do that,” she told the St. Louis Dispatch. “I’ve had backlash playing a serial killer on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Anthony Hopkins didn’t, but I did. I have to follow my heart at the end of the day.”