Raised in extreme poverty, the heroine of Murder never gave up to realize her dream of fame. And it paid off! Return on the slow but exceptional rise of an actress who is just as much.
“ Rewards are not my thing. They always make me nervous and confuse me. ” Here is what Viola Davis said in 2016 in Télé Star. The actress, 55, must have come close to having a nervous breakdown a lot of times… She is the first African-American to have won an Oscar, a Tony Award (even two, to be precise), the equivalent of our Molières in the United States, and an Emmy, the Oscars of American TV. And that’s just a sample of the trophies she can put on the fireplace in her Los Angeles home. It’s simple: the little brunette with the frank and determined look is so good on stage and in front of the cameras that the New York Times placed her 9th in her list of the best actors and actresses of the 21st century. But Viola keeps a cool head. Not only was her recognition late, but she hasn’t forgotten where she came from. The girl was born on August 11, 1965, in Saint Matthews, South Carolina, on her grandparents’ farm on a former plantation. There is no hot water or electricity at home.
As a child, she searched the trash to eat
She will grow up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, among her four sisters and her brother. Dan, his father, is a groom, he is sometimes violent and he drinks. Mary Alice, his mother, who married at the age of 15, is a housekeeper and worker. The family doesn’t have a dime. “I was the kind of poor person who immediately knows that she has even less than everyone around her, Viola told People. . Our environment reflected our income. The boards were falling off the walls, the plumbing was poor, we had no phones, no food. ”Children sometimes have to sleep with rags tied around their necks to avoid being bitten by the rats that swarm in the apartment, they search trash cans to eat and steal from stores. At the time, Viola was a shy and self-conscious little girl. She is ashamed of her poverty and finds herself unattractive. But, already, she has a strength that goes beyond all these handicaps: her will. When she was 7, she entered a sketch competition with her sisters.
Became a star at over 45
“We went on stage, prepared, and proud. Of course, we had friends in the neighborhood, but we were also treated, all the time, negresses and disgusting … And there, everyone applauded us. We won a plastic baseball kit. We didn’t know how to play baseball. We didn’t care: we had won ”, she recounts in L’Obsen 2015. Her vocation was born, she will be an actress. In 1989, Viola was 24 when she tried to integrate, like 2,499 other young people, the prestigious Juilliard School in New York. She is one of the fourteen students selected and whose course is fully funded through a scholarship. Viola graduated four years later. “I almost got discouraged before I even started,” she told the New York Times. I didn’t know how to find a place for myself in this environment. I had to fight. ”And that’s what she’s going to do, over and over again. She got her first role on the screen, that of a nurse, in 1996, in Revers de fortune, an independent film, for which she received 440 euros. But a certain Steven Soderbergh will spot her. He will give her small roles in Out of reach and in Solaris. She will thus meet the one who will become one of her first fans, a certain George Clooney. “She improves each project on which she works, says the actor of her. .Each of them. Most irritatingly, she does it effortlessly. ”George adores her. He will even lend him his sublime palace on the shore of Lake Como in Italy for his honeymoon. It does is not the only one to find that his talent is not recognized enough. In 2012, when Meryl Streep presented her with the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Actress, she spoke of “the incredibly gifted Viola Davis” and cried, “My God, someone gives her a role!” It will happen. and it will be on television in the Murder series produced by Shonda Rhimes. Until then, Viola had rather kept a low profile. Now she doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is an opportunity. ”It will happen and it will be on television in the Murder series produced by Shonda Rhimes. Until then, Viola had rather kept a low profile. Now she doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is an opportunity. ”It will happen and it will be on television in the Murder series produced by Shonda Rhimes. Until then, Viola had rather kept a low profile. Now she doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is an opportunity.
She dresses in discount stores
You can’t win an Emmy for roles that just don’t exist, ”she says. The brunette of 1.65 m then 49 years old. She doesn’t have the physique of a model but she is ruthless in her role of ambitious Annalize Keating, who takes Xanax, drinks, doubts, and dares to remove wig and makeup on the screen. The role of (anti) heroine rare in the world of television and which gives the measure of the talent of the actress and her courage. It was necessary to risk getting naked on the screen, without lining. Viola has nothing more to prove. But, even at the top of the bill and with an Oscar, she keeps the reflexes of her childhood. No question for her to dress in the great couturiers. She even claims to shop more often at Target (a discount chain) and at H&M than in Beverly Hills. His pleasure? Have a full fridge and – the only little frivolity you assume – enjoy your Jacuzzi. She has just taken her revenge on her poor childhood by offering herself last summer, for her 55th birthday, the Singleton plantation on which she was born and where her grandparents worked. Wife and happy mother, now recognized actress, Viola would have a good place in the race for the Oscar 2021 for best actress for her role in The Blues of Ma Rainey. The time when she was eternally confined in the supporting roles is beautiful and long gone. Finally ! the Singleton plantation where she was born and where her grandparents worked. Wife and happy mother, now recognized actress, Viola would have a good place in the race for the Oscar 2021 for best actress for her role in The Blues of Ma Rainey. The time when she was eternally confined in the supporting roles is beautiful and long gone. Finally ! the Singleton plantation where she was born and where her grandparents worked. Wife and happy mom, now recognized actress, Viola would be well placed in the race for the Oscar 2021 for best actress for her role in The Blues of Ma Rainey. The time when she was eternally confined in the supporting roles is beautiful and long gone. Finally!
In love with Julius for 21 years
“I was the loneliest woman in the world, and someone said to me, ‘You should pray to have a husband,” Viola tells Page Six in 2013. She does, asking God to meet “a tall black from the south who looks like a football player, who already has children and who may have been married before. ” It was in 1999, she was 34 years old. Three and a half weeks later, Viola crosses paths with actor Julius Tennon, ex-footballer, eleven and a half years older, from Texas and father of two. “All the anxiety and angst, the minute we started dating… all of that was gone,” says the actress. The lovebirds move in together three months later and get married in 2003. They spend their honeymoon with George Clooney in Italy. Since, they never left each other and even created a production company together, JuVee. “Julius is always there to ensure my back, in good times, and in bad times. I’ve never known that in my life ”, rejoices Viola.
BEAUTY ICON AT 55
In episode 4 of season 1 of Murder, Annalize Keating, facing the mirror, takes off her smooth wig revealing her natural hair, then removes make-up. In one scene, Viola Davis and the producers of Murder revolutionized the image of women. “When I read the script, I saw a 49-year-old African-American woman with dark skin, wearing false eyelashes and who takes off his wig at night… I had two options: either put on even longer false eyelashes, lose weight and wear an even more beautiful wig, or assume this character with all its imperfections. It seemed much more interesting to me. As an artist, we have to convey a certain truth. If not, who will do it? ”, She declared in Télé Star in 2015. Since then, the one who is
HER FIGHT FOR DIVERSITY
A fervent anti-racist activist, Viola has fought for years against the flagrant pay inequalities between white actresses and those of color. Her speech “Pay Me What I’m Worth” has been around the Internet. ‘Obs in 2015. In 2018, she created a documentary series called Two Sides recounting police violence suffered by the African-American community. Viola is also very active on the front of equality between women and men. In January 2017, the actress notably attended the Women’s March in Washington and spoke on behalf of all oppressed women.
A DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP WITH MOTHERHOOD
For Viola, becoming a mother was far from obvious, even after meeting Julius and saying yes for life. “I always wanted to be different, she explained to People in 2017. I didn’t want to live a provincial life. In my head, I thought that if I married and had a child, it would be too ordinary, and I wanted to be extraordinary. ”Then, as the years went by, despite the success and the love, Viola felt a big lack. The desire for a child becomes urgent. In 2011, Viola and Julius adopted a newborn baby. Today, their daughter Genesis is 9 years old and her mother tries to educate her according to her values: work, love, and understanding.
1996: OUT OF REACH Steven Soderbergh offers him a small supporting role on the big screen alongside George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.
2011: THE COLOR OF FEELINGS Viola finally achieves worldwide and popular critical acclaim thanks to her portrayal of nanny Aibileen Clark.
2016: FENCES She embodies the role she has already held on the boards alongside Denzel Washington. She will receive the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2017.
2010: BEST ACTRESS TONY AWARD Viola obtains her second Tony Award, the equivalent of Molières in the United States, for her performance in the play Fences.
2014/2020: MURDER In 2015, Viola became the first black woman to win the Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Dramatic Television Series.
2018: WIDOWS She plays Liam Neeson in this feature film by Steve McQueen, which earned her a nomination for the Bafta Awards in 2019.
2020: LE BLUES DE MA RAINEY On Netflix, Viola plays Ma Rainey, the queen of the blues, alongside the late Chadwick Boseman, the hero of Black Panther died this year of cancer at the age of 43.