davisIn one of the highest-profile pilot castings this season, Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) is set as the lead of ABC‘s drama pilot How To Get Away With Murder, from ABC Studios and Shondaland. This marks the first series regular role in a decade for the two-time Oscar-nominated actress. In making her foray into pilot season, Davis joins her Help co-star Octavia Spencer, who recently signed on to star in Fox drama pilot The Red Band Society. Written by Peter Nowalk, How To Get Away is described as a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller that centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor (Davis) who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their entire university and change the course of their lives. Nowalk is executive producing alongside Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.

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This is the second consecutive drama pilot in which Rhimes has booked an A-list black actress for the lead, following Scandal and Kerry Washington. Davis, repped by CAA, Lasher Group and attorney Michael Adler, previously recurred on Law & Order and The United States Of Tara. She recently wrapped production on the indie Lila & Eve, opposite Jennifer Lopez, which was produced by Davis’ JuVee Prods. shingle.