Viola Davis Online mobile version
December 22, 2016
Dec 22, 2016   Ali   Leave a Comment Articles, Fences

“Art has got to be inclusive. The landscape of America is not what it was. The demographics have changed.”

Hollywood isn’t exactly known for its progressive approach to onscreen representation (see: #OscarsSoWhite rounds one and two), but 2016 delivered several films that break the norm—including Fences. The Denzel Washington-directed movie is based on a play by August Wilson, and chronicles the unraveling marriage of a black couple in 1950s Pittsburgh. spoke to Viola Davis (side note: she 💯 percent deserves an Oscar for this magnificent role) about Fences’ feminism, why the Academy should pull a BAFTAs and demand diversity, and—oh yeah—the time she was recognized by fans while peeing.

Marie Claire: The BAFTAs just announced that starting in 2019, they’ll only consider films that are diverse in representation both on and off screen. Do you think the Academy should do the same?

Viola Davis: “Yeah, I think it would be absolutely wonderful because here’s the thing, sometimes people need to be thrust into change. You do. Change is something we avoid because we just migrate to what we’re used to—not to what’s right. Any change that’s ever come has come at a point in history where it’s violent and it’s passionate. It’s like a famous motivational speaker said: ‘If you’re afraid of diving into something, then just dive into it afraid.’ That’s what I believe should happen with the whole diversity issue. Art has got to be inclusive. The landscape of America is not what it was. The demographics have changed. Everyone is fighting, they are hungry to see their own images. It can sell, and it can be great. We have to know that. I don’t think it’s stifling voices, either. I think it’s encouraging voices. So yes, I think it would be wonderful if the Academy was asked to do the same.”

MC: What can Fences teach us about early feminism? History books have white-washed the feminist movement, but the real history of powerful women is very intersectional, and I loved how Rose made her voice heard while still sticking to her traditional role as “wife.”

VD: “Absolutely, that’s the beauty of what Wilson wrote. He wrote a liberated women in 1957. I don’t think Rose is aware that’s who she is, she plays the role that was given to her in 1957—a year that had the highest rate of alcoholics, the highest rate of depression at that time. Our only role was in the house, and that’s when we meet Rose. In the house. That’s where her purpose lies until it’s taken from her. That’s where a person’s true nature comes out—whether they’re going to sink or swim. When it’s taken away from Rose, you see how she swims. Her moment of liberation comes when she realizes she contributed to the demise of her marriage, and the demise of herself. To me, that’s true liberation. Strength, to me, is the internal struggle of stepping into one’s self. That’s what Rose does.”

MC: So many of the issues we’re dealing with as women now are the same as they were in the ’50s—decades later.

VD: “When I was a young women, you just kind of fell in step with whatever role society gave you. There’s an idea that there’s a definitive definition of success—until you get to middle age and realize success is an individual definition of what will make you happy. What will fulfill you in life. Coming to that conclusion is a path of self-awareness, and is completely separate from what society has defined. It’s very hard for women—because women today, our roles are a reaction to not wanting to be like our moms were. But what does that mean? We still have the highest rate of binge-drinking. We still are overly stressed. We still have a really skewed definition of what strength is. Rose realizes that the only answer to where she needs to go in life lies within herself. That’s the biggest message the movie gives to women. The only answer lies within you.”

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December 22, 2016
Dec 22, 2016   Ali   Leave a Comment Awards

Congratulations to Viola on her Screen Actors Guild nomination!

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

December 21, 2016
Dec 21, 2016   Marica   Leave a Comment Images

Viola attended the NY screening of her new movie ‘Fences’ looking stunning in her dress by Cinq à Sept. I just love everything about this look.

Gallery Links:
Viola Davis Online > 2016 > December 19 | ‘Fences’ NY Screening
Viola Davis Online > 2016 > December 19 | ‘Fences’ NY Screening – After Party

December 12, 2016
Dec 12, 2016   Ali   Leave a Comment Articles

A beautiful feature profile was done in the newest issue of The New Yorker.

How the star of “Fences” and “How to Get Away with Murder” got away from her difficult past.

On January 25, 2009, a jubilant Meryl Streep stood before a gala crowd at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, in Los Angeles, having just won an award for her role in “Doubt,” the film adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about sexual abuse, race, and the Catholic Church. Clutching her statuette, Streep gave a shout-out to the rest of the cast. When she got to Viola Davis—who had earned her first Academy Award nomination for her performance as the mother of an African-American boy a priest is accused of abusing—Streep saluted her colleague as “gigantically gifted,” then threw up her hands. “My God!” she said. “Somebody give her a movie!”

The industry seems to have listened. Davis—“a newcomer at forty-five,” as Streep later joked—has made twenty-one films since then. Not all her roles have been large or central to the narrative arc, but, as Aibileen Clark, the maid who helps expose the folly of the white Mississippi matrons she serves, in “The Help”(2011), she was a popular success and gained a second Academy Award nomination. “No one had ever akst me what it felt like to be me,” Aibileen says at the end of the film. The lack of white curiosity about black life is something Davis is always tilting at. “I’ve played many best friends, crack-addicted mothers, next-door neighbors, or professionals with no personal lives,” she said. “There’s a limitation to how we are seen.”

When Davis took on the role of Annalise Keating, a high-profile defense attorney and law professor, in the ABC legal-drama series “How to Get Away with Murder,” currently in its third season, she addressed this cultural trivialization directly. The show and her character were hatched in close collaboration with the series’ creator, Peter Nowalk. From the start, Davis pushed him to dramatize Annalise’s interior world and to show the private moments of this tough, brilliant professional, who has a difficult, and promiscuous, past. “I’m trying, within the confines of the narrative that I’ve been given, to show her pathology,” she told me. “I don’t see acting as hiding. I see it as stepping up buck naked in front of a group of people that you don’t know. Every single time. It’s about exposing. If you’re not doing that, you’re basically not doing anything.” Nowalk elaborated, “From our very first phone call, she said, ‘I want to be a woman who takes off her wig and wipes off her makeup, and you see who she is underneath.’ She made the character frankly more complex, more interesting. Taking off her wig—that is the show’s most famous moment, and it is all hers.” He added, “I can never state too much how she elevated the character.” It was a spectacular exhibition of agency in a woman who is, as she puts it, “darker than a paper bag.” “Colorism and racism in this country are so powerful,” Davis told Entertainment Weekly last year. “As an actress, I have been a great victim of that. There were a lot of things that people did not allow me to be until I got . . . Annalise Keating. I was not able to be sexualized. Ever. In my entire career.”

In 2011, Davis, with her husband, the actor Julius Tennon, formed JuVee Productions, a multimedia company that takes on everything from virtual reality to movies. JuVee began as a strategic way for Davis to try to alter the public perception of African-American life, which hasn’t changed much since Zora Neale Hurston observed, in 1950, that “the average, struggling, non-morbid Negro is the best-kept secret in America.” Davis told me, “It’s hard for people to see us beyond narratives that are didactic. I’m trying to change the landscape. And not just for me, for everyone.” JuVee’s productions so far include the vigilante thriller “Lila & Eve” (2015) and “Custody” (2016), in which Davis plays a judge presiding over a custody case. “The Personal History of Rachel DuPree,” a drama about an African-American farming family in the Badlands of South Dakota in 1917, is under way. Davis and Tennon have also commissioned a bio-pic, about the politician and civil-rights leader Barbara Jordan (with a script by the playwright Tony Kushner).

In January, Davis, who is fifty-one, will get a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, but the real acknowledgment of her renown will come a couple of weeks earlier, with the December 25th opening of the movie adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Fences” (1983), in which Davis gives the best performance—in the best role—of her career. She plays Rose, the tender and sorely tested wife of Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington, who also directed the movie), a once great athlete who is now a garbageman, cheated of his potential by social circumstance. “Fences,” which is set in the fifties, is the most commercial of Wilson’s ten-play “Century Cycle,” a series that chronicles, decade by decade through the twentieth century, what he called “the cultural response of black Americans to the world they find themselves in.” Davis and Washington, who delivered Tony Award-winning performances in the same roles in the 2010 Broadway production of “Fences,” are two of Wilson’s most eloquent messengers. And the film, which was shot in the Hill District, in Pittsburgh—the working-class black neighborhood where Wilson grew up—is that rarest of phenomena, a cinematic adaptation that is better than its theatrical template.

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December 12, 2016
Dec 12, 2016   Ali   Leave a Comment Articles, Awards

People did a feature highlighting Viola’s acceptance speech from last night’s awards show.

Viola Davis delivered some very powerful words at the Critics’ Choice Awards Sunday night.

The actress, who won the best supporting actress award for her role in Fences and is nominated for best actress in a drama series for How to Get Away with Murder, was also the recipient of the first-ever #SeeHer award. The award, presented by the Association of National Advertisers in conjunction with A&E, honored Davis for her work furthering the movement’s efforts to accurately portray women and girls in the media.

Actress Amy Adams presented Davis with the award and Emma Stone led the standing ovation for the star, who took the stage to deafening applause.

“Thank you,” said Davis, 51, who was clearly emotional. “It’s hard to accept being a role model for women when you’re trying to lose weight.”

“I’ve always discovered the heart of my characters by asking: ‘Why?’ ” she continued. “When I was handed Annalise Keating [of HTGAWM] I said: ‘She’s sexy, she’s mysterious … I’m used to playing women that [I] have to gain 40 lbs. [for] and wear an apron.”

“So I said: ‘Oh, I’ve got to lose weight, I’ve got to learn how to walk like Kerry Washington in heels,’ …” she went on. “And then I asked myself: ‘Well, why do I have to do all of that?’ ”

“I truly believe that the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are and I just recently embraced that at 51,” she said.

Davis went on to say that she believes her “strongest power” lies in her portrayal of Keating, HTGAWM‘s high-powered defense attorney.

“At 10 p.m. every Thursday night I want you to come into my world,” she said. “I’m not going to come into yours. You can come into mine. My size, my hue, my age and you sit. And you experience. And I think that’s the only power I have as an artist. So I thank you for this award and I do see her, just like I see me.”

And the evening is certainly shaping up beautifully for the star: Davis took the stage again shortly afterwards to accept the best supporting actress award for her role in Fences, thanking her costar and director Denzel Washington, as well the cast and crew, for honoring late playwright August Wilson, who wrote the original 1983 play.

“Thank you so much … for having the courage and the vision to bring August Wilson to the screen,” she said. “But most importantly: the leader, the captain, Denzel Washington, who said the two scariest words an actor can ever hear: ‘Trust me.’ ”

“Usually that’s because you can’t trust a lot of people with a performance in this business,” she added. “But we trusted you, you delivered as a leader and you’ve made us proud and most importantly, you’ve made August proud. Thank you very much.”

December 12, 2016
Dec 12, 2016   Ali   Leave a Comment Awards, Videos

So excited! Congratulations Viola!!!

December 12, 2016
Dec 12, 2016   Ali   Leave a Comment Awards, Events, Images

Last night Viola won the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in her new film Fences. So proud of her!

Thanks to AliKat & Jay for sending some of these pictures to us!

Edited to add: Tons of additional HQ images were added.

Gallery Links:
Viola Davis Online > 2016 > December 11 | Critics Choice Awards
Viola Davis Online > 2016 > December 11 | Critics Choice Awards – Audience
Viola Davis Online > 2016 > December 11 | Critics Choice Awards – Backstage
Viola Davis Online > 2016 > December 11 | Critics Choice Awards – Ceremony
Viola Davis Online > 2016 > December 11 | Critics Choice Awards – Press Room