She’s a two-time Tony winner and has an Emmy for her ABC TV series How To Get Away With Murder – the first won by an African American lead actress in the Drama Series category. Now you can add Oscar winner to that list with Viola Davis’ Best Supporting Actress victory Sunday night for her stirring role as Rose in the film adaptation of Fences.
She joins that rare club of actors who won both Oscars and Tonys for the same role, and the first to my knowledge to win an Oscar and Tony for a role they didn’t originate on Broadway. Davis starred with Denzel Washington in the 2010 revival of the 1987 August Wilson play. Further records for this brilliant star are three Oscar nominations, the most for any African American actress. Davis continues to break down walls and fences. This year her work in Washington’s film version also won her a Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and Critics’ Choice Award among others. She is clearly one of the most formidable and talented actors working today. Viola Davis does it all, and does it particularly well.
In this encore of my two-part interview for my Deadline video series, The Actor’s Side (click the link above), she discusses the differences between playing Fences’ Rose on stage versus doing it on film – and with much the same cast. She also talks about seeing her father dying and how that affected the way she approaches acting, her Rhode Island upbringings, and how seeing Cicely Tyson in the TV movie The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman set her on a course to a profession she has never left behind. Oh, and check out her comments on the very “big hair” she once had, as well as just what all these awards really mean to her. Then, in Part 2 (below) Davis talks about the magic of theatre, her upcoming projects and production company, last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, which in retrospect seems so long ago now, and the true meaning of diversity.