March is National Women’s Month, and we’d like to celebrate womanhood through featuring the works and lives of different remarkable women in different industries. To start off this month, we have a feature of multi-award-winning actress, Viola Davis.
2016 was infamously a very trying year. From celebrity deaths to political turmoil, it soon became known as one of the worst years in recent memory. One must not forget that when there is difficulty, there will always be underdogs striving to break free.
This year we saw some of those underdogs triumph. The 89th Academy Awards, more known as the Oscars, was truly a memorable event. Mahershala Ali, who won Best Supporting Actor for his role as Juan in Moonlight, became the first Muslim to win an Oscar. Moonlight became the first LGBT-themed film and the first all black cast film to win the coveted Best Picture.
Viola Davis made history that night by becoming the first black actor to win the Triple Crown of Acting, which is a term that those in the entertainment industry use for people who’ve won an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony for acting. She’s also the first black woman to be nominated for three Academy Awards. In honor of National Women’s Month, we’d like to bring light to this quintessential underdog’s inspirational life story.
Growing up in poverty, Viola would use her imagination to escape her troubled life. She and her sister, Deloris, would play as two rich white Beverly Hills women, named Jaja and Jagi. They would say things like,
“Oh my, Jaja, I bought this fabulous house and my husband bought me this beautiful diamond ring”.
The most notorious of the places the Davis family lived in is a condemned building on 128 Washington Street. Viola said that she would never have classmates over because it was boarded up, and rarely had electricity or heat. The rats that overran the place ate the faces off Viola’s dolls, and fought the pigeons on the attic. Needless to say, Viola and her siblings would barely get sleep.
The Davis family also faced hunger. They lived on welfare, and her parents used the check to buy groceries every first of the month. The food would not last very long though. One time when one of Viola’s friends came over, when she opened the refrigerator, there was nothing in it. Viola also dumpster-dove, and even stole to appease her hunger. She said, “I was always so hungry and ashamed, I couldn’t tap into my potential. I couldn’t get at the business of being me.”
Thankfully, she persevered despite these hardships. In high school, she discovered her love for acting. This led to her getting a full scholarship to Rhode Island College for Theatre, and eventually attending the prestigious Juilliard School in New York.
Now an established and beloved actress, Viola Davis uses her fame and influence to help out people who are suffering from hunger. She’s believing in underdogs, just like she once was.
For more inspirational stories and features, best look out for the rest of our Women’s Month articles!