Meet Viola Davis: A trailblazer inspiring young women through powerful performances

By Esther Muhozi
On 15 September 2023 at 02:23

Viola Davis, an iconic American actress and producer, has left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment through her extraordinary talent and groundbreaking achievements. Her remarkable journey in film, television, and theater serves as an inspiring story, particularly for young women aspiring to break barriers and make their mark in the industry.

Davis was raised in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father found work as a horse groom at nearby racetracks and her mother took on domestic and factory jobs. Their income was frequently insufficient to support the family, and they endured grim rat-infested apartments and occasional food shortages. As a child, Davis began acting in school productions and theater competitions. She enrolled at Rhode Island College, where she majored in theater and graduated in 1988.

Davis proceeded to the Young People’s School for the Performing Arts in Rhode Island on scholarship before attending the Juilliard School, from which she graduated in 1994.

She has been marked in different Movies like ’The woman King’, ’How to get away with Murder’ , ’The Help’ , ’doubt’ , ’Fences’, ’The Hunger’ and ’Air’.

She did not stop there as she went beyond and wrote a book titled ’Finding Me’.

In her book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.

"This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me."

As She wrote ’Finding Me’, her eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination.

"We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.

Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you."

Awards and recognition

Davis’s list of accolades reads like a testament to her exceptional abilities. With numerous awards and nominations in her illustrious career, she stands as a true role model for emerging talents. Her collection of honors includes a Primetime Emmy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards for television, two Tony Awards, and three Drama Desk Awards for her theater performances.

In the world of film, she has achieved the pinnacle, securing an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Golden Globe Award, three Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards, a record she shares with Renée Zellweger.

Breaking barriers

Davis’s remarkable achievements extend beyond the accolades. She has carved her path as a trailblazer in an industry that often presents challenges to people of color, especially women.

Davis’s four Academy Award nominations make her the most nominated black actress in history, a testament to her resilience and talent.

She has been marked in different Movies like 'The woman King'.

The power of representation

Davis has consistently chosen roles that challenge societal norms and shed light on important issues. Her portrayal of Aibileen Clark in the film "The Help" is a prime example. The movie, set in the racially segregated 1960s America, explores the harrowing experiences of Black women working as maids in white households.

While the film has faced criticism for its approach, Davis’s performance, along with those of other Black actors like Octavia Spencer, shines as a beacon of strength and resilience.

Davis herself has acknowledged the film’s flaws, particularly its focus on a white protagonist’s perspective, which can be seen as a "white savior" narrative.

Despite this, her portrayal of Aibileen Clark serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of Black women during challenging times. It is a performance that inspires young women to use their voices to challenge injustice and discrimination.

Inspiration for young women

Davis’s journey from modest beginnings to becoming one of the few performers to achieve the coveted EGOT status (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Her dedication to her craft, her fearlessness in tackling complex and important roles, and her commitment to speaking out on issues of representation and social justice make her a beacon of hope and empowerment for young women everywhere.

Aspiring actresses and women looking to break into the entertainment industry can draw inspiration from Viola Davis’s incredible career. She has shown that talent, hard work, and a commitment to meaningful storytelling can overcome even the most significant obstacles.

Davis is not just an actress; she is a symbol of empowerment, a reminder that women, particularly women of color, can achieve greatness in an industry that has historically been exclusive. Her legacy will continue to inspire generations of young women to pursue their dreams and make their voices heard, both on and off the screen.

In the midst of Hollywood’s evolving landscape, Viola Davis stands tall, reminding us all that the power of representation and the strength of character can change the world. Young women, take note: Viola Davis’s journey is a testament to the heights you can reach when you dare to dream and work relentlessly to make those dreams a reality.