Viola Davis

Viola Davis: Producing Power in Hollywood


Feb. 15 2024, Published 10:11 p.m. ET

Viola Davis, an African-American actress known for her commitment to remarkably bringing to life every role she is given, is doing much more than just reading lines. The Academy Award winner had a difficult upbringing characterized by poverty and racism. Ms Davis has often spoken about the challenges she continues to experience even after proving herself to Hollywood that she is just as good as her contemporary white counterparts.

Well, Ms Davis is not on Fences when it comes to being the best version of herself and creating opportunities for herself. Besides acting, the highly decorated actress has produced several movies like Lila & Eve as she pushes for equality and better opportunities for Black actors in Hollywood. Let’s dive into Viola Davis's role as a producer, her production company, and its significance in Hollywood.

Viola Davis: Actor and Producer

It doesn’t take convincing to tell that Viola Davis is extremely talented—her work shows it. Born in 1965 to a poor family and an abusive father, Viola did not have it easy growing up. She often got bullied for being poor and Black. Acting was her way around it, and she graduated from Juilliard.

Her performance in Doubt cemented her name in the industry after it earned her her first Oscar nomination. Since then, Viola has been featured in films and TV shows such as The Help, How to Get Away with Murder, Suicide Squad, and Fences. She has gotten several nominations and awards for her work.

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However, despite proving herself to Hollywood that she was deserving of a lead role after she got an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her starring role in The Help, the actress noticed that she still received offers for supporting roles. The reason for this, she says, is race.

“It’s one thing getting one day of work in a movie, it’s another thing getting the lead,” Viola told an audience during a conference in Boston. “With each challenge you have, race is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. It doesn’t stop at drive-by shootings and lynchings and voting rights, it’s mindsets, perceptions, abstract things that can’t be quantified by language. It never leaves you. You may be sitting in a room with your White counterpart, same age, same size, but they don’t see you the same.”

The Suicide Squad actor decided, “out of necessity,” to create opportunities for herself by starting a production company in partnership with her husband, Julius Tennon, in 2011.

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Viola Davis’s JuVee Production Company

After conquering Hollywood despite all the challenges, actress and producer Viola Davis is tired. Her 2022 film, Woman King, which Viola produced and starred in, succeeded beyond the expectations of analysts, only proving how good she was at her job. The original war drama is not attached to any prior superhero or sequel, so how the movie took the box office crown is nothing short of incredible.

JuVee production company is committed to inclusivity and diversity, providing prestigious roles to people of color. This gives them a platform to be heard and tell their stories.

JuVee’s Impact in The Industry

Instead of waiting for a seat at the table, actresses such as Viola, Issa Rae, and Taraji P. Henson are taking the initiative to create their own seats. Viola and her husband are at the frontline of giving voices to marginalized communities and telling their stories. Besides that, Ms. Viola is vocal about mental health, using her platform to raise awareness and destigmatize the issue.

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