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Viola Davis

2020 Speaker

VIOLA DAVIS is the first black actress to win Tony, Oscar, and Emmy awards for acting. Davis starred in the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder, from ABC Studios and Shondaland, which aired its final episode in May. In 2015, Davis received the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, in addition to becoming the first African American actress to receive the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2016, she received her second Screen Actors Guild Award and her second Emmy nomination for portraying Annalise Keating. Her work has been recognized with a plethora of awards, including Critics’ Choice, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, and SAG awards.

Davis was recently seen in Amazon Studio’s family comedy, Troop Zero, directed by Bert & Bertie, and will next be seen in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on the play of the same name by August Wilson. Other past film credits include 2018’s Windows, and 2016’s Suicide Squad. Davis garnered Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and an Academy award in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Rose Maxson in 2018’s Fences, which was directed and produced by Denzel Washington. Davis also starred with Washington in the 2010 revival of the play on Broadway. Her performance earned her a Tony Award, as well as the Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award. “Fences” was also honored with the Tony Award for “Best Play Revival” and was the most profitable theater production of the year. 

Davis and her husband founded JuVee Productions in 2012, with a focus on giving a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful and culturally relevant narratives. The Los Angeles-based and artist driven company produces film, television and digital content across all of entertainment. Other notable film credits include The Help, Doubt, Antwone Fisher, Get On Up, Blackhat, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Knight and Day, Nights in Rodanthe, Madea Goes to Jail, Law Abiding Citizen, Disturbia, Eat, Pray, Love, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, The Architect, Never Back Down, and Far From Heaven. She worked with director Steven Soderbergh on Solaris, Traffic and Out of Sight, and in Syriana, which Soderbergh produced for director Stephen Gaghan. In 2001, Davis was awarded a Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her portrayal of “Tonya” in King Hedley II.

A graduate of The Julliard School, Davis received an Honorary Doctorate during its 109th Commencement Ceremony and she also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from her alma mater, Rhode Island College. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. @violadavis