Happy birthday to Viola Davis, Academy Award–winning actress, preeminent acceptance-speech-giver, and Hollywood legend. Davis is one of the most decorated stage and screen actresses of her generation, and has received over 100 awards including an Emmy, BAFTA, and Golden Globe, in addition to her Oscar. Her three Oscar nominations tie her with Octavia Spencer as the most Oscar-nominated Black actress in history.
Davis has described growing up in abject poverty (she shared on Instagram today that she now owns the house she was born in) and spent the first years of her career working as a stage actress around the world before being accepted to Juilliard. She began edging into mainstream fame in the 2010s, first with The Help (a film she has since denounced) and then with lead role in How to Get Away With Murder for her portrayal of Annaliese Keating, the formidable defense attorney at the show’s center. But her real turn came with Doubt, where she was only in a single scene:
The seven minute, 41 second performance led to Davis being nominated for several awards, including a Golden Globe and an Oscar. In 2016 she starred in Fences, for which she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and after which she gave one of the most poignant acceptance in Oscars history:
In honor of her birthday, please enjoy these ten magnificent photos of her over the years: