Aug 05, 2020 Ali 0
August 5, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Viola is featured in the new issue of People which hits stands on Friday! She discusses hunger awareness and growing up Food Poor.

The Oscar winner has teamed up with No Kid Hungry to bring awareness to their annual report, The Longest Summer: Childhood Hunger In The Wake of Coronavirus

Childhood hunger hits close to home for Viola Davis.

The Oscar winner, 55, who grew up in poverty, is working with No Kid Hungry to bring awareness to the hunger crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This was an issue before COVID,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “It’s just that stakes are much higher now because people have been out of work and challenged in terms of their finances, their house, everything. Our scourge is childhood hunger. Food banks that were designated to serve maybe 200 families are now serving 600.”

The program’s 2020 report, The Longest Summer: Childhood Hunger In The Wake of Coronavirus, found that half of American families are living with hunger and the numbers are worse among Black and Latinx people. “When all your money goes towards your rent, you don’t have anything leftover or you never had it to begin with,” Davis says. “It’s not just the scourge of kids who are growing up in poverty, it’s also the working poor. We have a problem.”

Davis’ own experiences with hunger growing up have instilled a deep need to help others and promote awareness as well.

“I got a scholarship when I was really young to an acting school and I never had any money for food,” Davis recalls. “Every once in a while, I would bring maybe a bologna sandwich with mayonnaise and I would be so happy. The kids at that school were at the very, very least upper middle class and I remember eating the sandwich and one of the kids going, ‘Oh, that is so disgusting.’ There needs to be empathy and education in understanding the struggles of many of your fellow Americans especially now.”

As for how people can help, Davis suggests to “give of your time and money, but the big thing here is to vote,” she says. “SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] and WIC vouchers are the healing elixir for families that are food-poor. And these programs are being challenged.”

The annual report also uncovered that more than 50% of parents are now skipping meals for themselves or limiting food for people in the family so their kids can eat while almost 40% are not paying bills as often to make sure there is food on the table. “Growing up with hunger was my biggest source of shame,” Davis admits. “It affected my sense of value, my sense of worth. I just felt like there was no one else who had that issue. And the fact that I did, made me weak, even though I had no control over it.”

Now the actress is teaching her daughter Genesis, 10, with her husband Julius Tennon, the importance of self-empowerment. “I encourage her to use any source of expression, whether it’s TikTok, painting, taking pictures,” Davis adds. “I said, ‘Anything about yourself, even the things that you don’t think people will love about you, all of it makes up your beauty.’ I don’t want her to grow up with any shame.”

For more of Davis’ exclusive interview, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Aug 05, 2020 Ali 0
August 5, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Congratulations to Viola!

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) has set a virtual edition for their 2nd Annual AAFCA TV Honors. The private celebration will take place on August 22.

Hosted by comedian and actress Aida Rodriguez, AAFCA will to honor a number of outstanding shows, creators and performers in TV including Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s For Life for Best Drama and HBO’s Insecure for Best Comedy.

Viola Davis (How To Get Away with Murder) and Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) will be honored as Best Actress and Best Actor respectively while Hollywood‘s Jeremy Pope and Laura Harrier will be honored as Breakout Performers.

In addition, Rashida Jones will present Black-ish and #blackAF creator Kenya Barris with the ICON Award for his groundbreaking contributions to television.

A full list of honorees can be read below:

TV Icon – Kenya Barris
Inclusion Award – MACRO Television Studios
Best Actress – Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Best Actor – Sterling K. Brown, This is Us (NBC)
Best Drama – For Life (ABC)
Best Comedy – Insecure (HBO)
Best TV Movie – The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel (Lifetime)
Breakout Performers – Jeremy Pope / Laura Harrier, Hollywood (Netflix)
Best YA – Never Have I Ever (Netflix)
Best Animated – Central Park (Apple TV+)
Best Documentary – Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (HBO) and The Last Dance (ESPN Films/Netflix)
Best Short Form – I Promise (Quibi)

In recognition of the impact of the pandemic, AAFCA will feature first responders, ranging from essential frontline workers like healthcare personnel and firefighters, to government leaders, alongside Hollywood stars, as AAFCA TV Honors presenters.

AAFCA co-founder and President Gil Robertson said “As an organization with a passion for community awareness and outreach, we could not ignore the heroic efforts of those in our larger community during this unprecedented time. This is just a small gesture to recognize them in some way and convey our tremendous gratitude.”

The ceremony will be featured on The AAFCA Channel on YouTube at a later date. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) COVID-19 Relief Fund.


Jul 14, 2020 Ali 0
July 14, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Here are some of the images from the feature done for Vanity Fair.

Gallery Links:
Viola Davis Online > PHOTOSHOOTS & PORTRAITS > Outtakes > 2020 > 001

Jul 14, 2020 Ali 0
July 14, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Viola is featured on the cover of the new issue of Vanity Fair and looks amazing!

Vanity FairThe Oscar and Emmy winner overcame long odds to make it in Hollywood. Then the real work began.

During the fraught, emotional days after the killing of George Floyd, Viola Davis wanted, more than anything, to be out on the streets of Los Angeles, shouting, protesting, holding a sign. She wanted to join the thousands of others who flooded cities across the nation and around the world to call for justice for Floyd and all the other Black men and women unjustly killed by the police.

“She called me and said she was going,” Davis’s close friend and neighbor, the actor Octavia Spencer, tells me by email. “I immediately talked her out of that.” Spencer and Davis were both concerned about putting themselves or their loved ones with health conditions at risk—and were acutely aware that due to systemic health care inequality, COVID-19 has a much higher mortality rate for Black Americans. “Both of us cried,” Spencer continues. “This WAS our civil rights movement, and we were sidelined because of health issues. We felt isolated from the movement.”

Then they had an idea: What about a neighborhood demonstration with friends and family members who needed to be mindful of their health? They banded together with Davis’s husband of 17 years, the actor and producer Julius Tennon; fellow actor Yvette Nicole Brown; and a handful of others—and camped out on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Studio City. They wore masks, which also rendered them unrecognizable, but even so someone across the street brought them a pizza in a show of solidarity. Davis’s sign read, simply, “AHMAUD ARBERY.”

To read the entire article go here.

May 21, 2020 Ali 0
May 21, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Actress Viola Davis partnered with the organization Frontline Foods on Wednesday to sponsor 100 meals from Matunuck Oyster Bar for staff at Hasbro Children’s and Rhode Island hospitals.

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Actress Viola Davis partnered with the organization Frontline Foods on Wednesday to sponsor 100 meals from Matunuck Oyster Bar for staff at Hasbro Children’s and Rhode Island hospitals.

Davis, the award-winning actress who grew up in Central Falls, was joined by members of the cast of “How to Get Away With Murder,” a show produced by Shonda Rhimes that stars Davis, in sponsoring the meals for health-care workers.

“It’s really neat to see other people use our business as a conduit to do good things like this,” said Perry Raso, owner of Matunuck Oyster Bar.

Frontline Foods is a national organization that pays local restaurants through donations raised from the community to prepare meals for front-line workers.

Falvey Insurance Group, an insurance company in North Kingstown, started Rhode Island’s chapter of Frontline Foods. Employees of the company, who have donated a total of $30,000 to various coronavirus relief efforts, gave $4,000 to the cause, according to Frontline Foods Rhode Island.

Davis and her fellow cast members were the first to sponsor a delivery from the Rhode Island chapter, according to Frontline Foods Rhode Island. Through promotion on social media, they’ll challenge the casts of other popular shows to sponsor meals in their own communities.

The idea for Frontline Foods started with the friends of a San Francisco nurse who asked what they could do to help her. When she replied, “pizza,” the group started thinking about how they could feed medical workers while supporting local businesses, according to the organization’s website.

Frontline Foods now operates in 57 cities around the country, according to its website.

The pandemic has brought major hardship for Rhode Island restaurants, which have had to convert to solely offer takeout and delivery over the last two months or close entirely. On Monday, restaurants were allowed to open with limited-capacity outdoor seating for the first time since Gov. Gina Raimondo banned on-premises food consumption on March 16.

Raso said the process of converting his full-service restaurant to one that offers only takeout was difficult. But, he said, the restaurant reopened Monday with 20 outdoor tables, and, thanks in part to a Paycheck Protection Program loan, he said he’s been able to hire back all of his employees who are willing to return to work.

Raso, who has also donated food from his restaurant throughout the crisis, said that giving to front-line workers boosts morale among his employees.

“I think they get energized by the idea of helping out people,” he said. “Being able to reach them through our food is something I think we all take a lot of pride in and find gratification in.”


May 17, 2020 Ali 0
May 17, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

I have added some stills from when Viola worked with the Property Brothers to redo her friend Michelle’s house!

Gallery Links:
Viola Davis Online > Celebrity IOU {2020} > Season One

May 17, 2020 Ali 0
May 17, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Another article this time from E!Online about Viola and playing Annalise Keating.

Viola Davis said yes to How to Get Away With Murder back in 2014 for a simple reason: She wanted to “be the show.” Six seasons and an Emmy win later, it’s safe to say she accomplished just that.

When Davis joined the series created by Pete Nowalk and executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, she already had two Oscar nominations and two Golden Globes nominations to her name for Doubt and The Help. She was a movie star. Before the breakout role in Doubt, Davis had guest roles on Law & Order: SVU, Without a Trace and The Practice. There wasn’t really a widely noted small screen part, so naturally the question when her role in How to Get Away With Murder was announced was, “Why are you doing TV?”

“The attraction was the material, yes…I think the day of choosing TV over film and TV somehow diminishing your career as an actor or actress, I think, has changed. I think people migrate towards material, especially after they reach a certain age, certain hue, certain sex. And I have to say, and I will be bold enough to say, that I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I’ve gotten even more film roles where I haven’t been the show. It’s like I’ve been invited to a really fabulous party, only to hold up the wall,” Davis said at the 2014 Television Critics Association press tour.

“I wanted to be the show. I wanted to have a character that kind of took me out of my comfort zone. And that character happened to be in a Shonda Rhimes show in How to Get Away With Murder. And so, I did the only smart thing that any sensible actress would do, and I took it. I dove at it. And I love the fact that she’s messy and mysterious and you don’t know who she is. She’s not necessarily nurturing and, ‘Come sit on my lap so I can talk to you, baby.’ She’s not the kind of person that—doesn’t need God, Jesus, or Buddha, because she knows all the answers. She’s messy. She’s a woman. She’s sexual. She’s vulnerable. And I think—I feel extremely fortunate that I am alive and still active and this role came to me at this point in my life,” Davis concluded.

With Annalise Keating, Davis explored previously frowned upon television taboos. That started early in the first season when she wiped off her makeup, took off her wig and confronted her husband about his penis being on a dead girl’s phone. Find another broadcast TV show with a 50-something black female lead. Find another broadcast TV show where the main character is a pansexual survivor of abuse. There isn’t. And that’s what will be HTGAWM’s legacy.

Yes, How to Get Away With Murder has rightfully been heralded with breaking new ground with representation on TV, with the portrayal of queer sex and relationships on TV and just storytelling in general. And like any broadcast show, it wasn’t perfect. However, How to Get Away With Murder will be remembered for letting Davis do exactly what she wanted to do: be—and own—the show.

The How to Get Away With Murder series finale airs Thursday, May 14 at 10 p.m. on ABC.

May 17, 2020 Ali 0
May 17, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

The NY Times wrote this beautiful opinion piece on Viola’s role as Annalise Keating ahead of the series finale.

“How to Get Away With Murder” is coming to an end, leaving behind a groundbreaking legacy.

It was the gasp heard in millions of living rooms around the country.

Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. During the fourth episode of “How to Get Away With Murder,” Annalise Keating, the legal wizard and law professor played brilliantly by Viola Davis, finds herself at a crossroads. Submersed in inner turmoil, she faces one of the biggest and most terrifying questions of her marriage: Did her husband, Sam, kill the pregnant college student with whom he was having an affair?

Annalise is usually put together with a perfectly coifed wig, sharply tailored sheath dresses and stunning makeup, but this night it’s different. Seated at her vanity, she takes off her wig, revealing her short Afro, then peels off her lashes. After scrubbing her face clean, this gorgeous dark-skinned woman is stripped bare for the world to see: no contours, no filter, no mask to hide behind.

As Sam enters their bedroom, Annalise is finally ready to ask the question no wife should ever have to ask her spouse.

“Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?”

In that pearl-clutching moment, I knew I was going to be sucked in until the very end. Six seasons later, the end is upon us, as “How to Get Away With Murder” airs its final episode on Thursday.

May 15, 2020 Ali 0
May 15, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Ahead of How to Get Away with Murder’s finale Thursday night, Viola Davis and her costars express their appreciation for the viewers who took the ride with them these last six years

Viola Davis and her How to Get Away with Murder costars want fans to know how much they appreciate the support of their show over the last six seasons.

In PEOPLE’s exclusive featurette, the cast sends thank you messages to viewers ahead of Thursday’s series finale.

“Thank you for bringing yourself into it and opening yourself up for 42 minutes and inviting us into your lives because it’s been a hell of a ride,” Davis, who stars as lawyer and former professor Annalise Keating, says in the video.

Alfred Enoch, who played law student Wes Gibbins, apologizes to fans for all the plot twists the show employed since its 2014 debut.

“I’m sorry,” says Enoch, 31. “It must have been an exasperating experience watching the show with all the cliffhangers and the twists and turns. I say I’m sorry, it’s not my fault. I haven’t written it, so don’t get cross with me actually.”

Tom Verica claims he has “people coming up to me in airports cursing me out” because of his turn as Annalise’s late husband Sam.

Jack Falahee — HTGAWM’s Connor Walsh, who currently faces jail time for being charged with killing pal Asher (Matt McGorry) — admits he started joining in the show’s online fandom. “I have recently started posting on the How to Get Away with Murder subreddit, but no one knows it’s me,” the actor and musician, 31, says. “And like, the community on Reddit and the internet in general is just like so strong and supportive. So thank you, it really means a lot.”

Davis, 54, says she “thought I was ready” to part with the Shonda Rhimes series, but it “creeps up on you.”

“It is just saying goodbye to a show that has really changed my career and I think in a huge way it shifted the face of television,” Davis, whose work on the show earned her an Emmy in 2015, concludes. “It’s been bittersweet. It’s like saying goodbye to a family member.”

How to Get Away with Murder’s series finale airs Thursday (10 p.m. ET) on ABC.


Apr 26, 2020 Ali 0
April 26, 2020  •  Ali  •  Leave a Comment

Megastar Viola Davis plays real-life angel to her Minnesota friend Michelle O’Neill on HGTV’s “Celebrity IOU.”

Twin Cities theater leading lady Michelle O’Neill has been tight with megastar Viola Davis ever since they were housemates at Juilliard three decades ago. But O’Neill, who acted in “The Heiress” on Broadway and has commanded stages at the Guthrie, Penumbra and elsewhere, has kept their bond something of a secret, largely to protect the privacy of her Oscar-, Emmy- and two-time-Tony-winning friend.

“We’ve been through all the defining moments of each other’s lives,” O’Neill said. “When she won her first Tony and Oscar. When we got married. When I got cancer and had babies. I remember the whole thing about her bringing [daughter] Genesis into their life.”

The world is getting a peek into the depth of their friendship on “Celebrity IOU,” the newest HGTV show starring Jonathan and Drew Scott of “Property Brothers” fame. The premise of the spinoff is that a star picks a friend whose house could use a makeover. When Davis was approached by the Scott twins for their pilot season, her mind immediately ran to O’Neill, and the Cape Cod in Columbia Heights where the self-described “warrior chicks” had shared much wine and laughter over the years.

“I knew Michelle wanted to renovate her house,” Davis said in a recent three-way phone conversation from her home in Los Angeles. “Family is really important to her. People getting together and connecting is very important to her.”

Built in 1950, the house has charm but had not been updated in decades. Still, O’Neill and her actor-turned-physician husband, Lee Mark Nelson, had made it into a cozy home, one where teenage daughters Ella and Tess had created indelible memories.

“I’m not saying it was a dump, but it was dark and chilly before,” O’Neill said. The thought of renovating it was a far-off dream, both in financial terms, and in her imagination.

“My house was furnished compliments of consignment stores and garage sales,” O’Neill said. As to what Davis and the “Property Brothers” did to the house, it’s something of a marvel, with a new modern kitchen, an open floor plan and even a Zen room. “I don’t think I could have dreamed that big.”

Trusting and letting go

The renovation required trust, which was difficult because O’Neill, by her own admission, has a hard time letting go of the reins. The family loaded up the car last fall to temporarily move to downtown Minneapolis while Davis and the “Property Brothers” got to work.

“When I first drove away from the house, I thought, ‘Omigod, I’ve just relinquished all control,’ ” O’Neill recalled. “It was thrilling because I knew that the outcome was going to be something totally exciting and wonderful, but it was also frightening.”

She did not once drive by to see what was going on.

For Davis, the whole experience was new, and not just the part where she gets to deliver an Oprah-like blessing. (The show paid for the whole renovation.)

Davis found herself smitten with the idea of demolishing things.

“It was all a party for me,” Davis said. “It’s not my house; it’s Michelle’s house, so I was totally into it. I’m like, ‘Knock that wall down. Knock that window down.’ I looked forward to that more than anything else. And here’s the thing, too. By the end, Michelle’s house was going to be a great surprise.”

The friends built their trust by coming through crucibles together. O’Neill, a Boise, Idaho, native who was educated at the University of Utah, first bonded with Rhode Island-raised Davis at Juilliard, where both went for their four-year conservatory training.

They describe that experience as searing, because the school’s rigorous approach to classical actor training required them to be nearly empty vessels. Both were slightly older students with a well-formed sense of self, which meant in-built friction. And they were dealing with younger classmates who were just coming into themselves.

“It was classic sensitive artist stuff,” said Davis. “At Juilliard, whatever your class is, whatever your group, you’re with them for four years, 24/7.”

“24/7,” O’Neill repeated.

“And so we had sort of a shared experience of trauma and misery,” Davis said, busting out laughing.

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