The Columbia Spectator shared the news that Viola will be the commencement speaker at Barnard College at Columbia University.
Acclaimed actor, activist, and humanitarian Viola Davis, Juilliard ‘93, will deliver the keynote address at Barnard’s 127th Commencement in May, administrators announced in an email to the Barnard community on Monday. Davis will also receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the college’s highest honor, at the ceremony.
Davis is the first black actor to have won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award in acting, named the Triple Crown of Acting. She has starred in films such as “Fences,” “Suicide Squad,” “The Help,” and “Widows,” and was also the first black actor to win an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, which she received for her work in the television show “How to Get Away with Murder.” Additionally, she is known for activist work, including collaborating with the Hunger Is campaign to help eradicate childhood hunger across America.
In the email, Barnard President Sian Beilock, along with co-interim Deans of the College Alicia Lawrence and Natalie Friedman described the impact of Davis’ career.
“In both her work and her life, she has been a fearless voice for women, women of color, and all who deserve to be seen and heard,” they wrote.
Other medalists at Barnard’s Commencement this year include pioneering civil rights attorney and fair housing advocate Shirley Adelson Siegel, BC ’37; Vice President for Content and Character Development at Marvel Comics and creator of the first Muslim superhero Sana Amanat, BC ’04; and internationally recognized poet, playwright, essayist, and memoirist Cherríe Moraga.
Each will be awarded a Barnard Medal of Distinction, the college’s highest honor.
Commencement will take place on Monday, May 20 at 4 p.m., at Radio City Music Hall.