Viola Davis' Barrier-Breaking Hollywood Story Is One for the Record Books

Photo Courtesy: Netflix

Viola Davis is easily one of the most talented actors of her generation. With her wide body of work in the entertainment industry, she’s made quite a name for herself by taking on roles that challenge her professionally while addressing some of Hollywood’s most common stereotypes. Case in point: In a 2016 interview with The Daily Beast, Davis explained, "I’m trying to change the ‘Black woman coming in at the ninth hour to give a sassy line and walk out’ to be the best friend and just be the sounding board giving information." She also consistently uses her voice and platform to challenge systemic racism and pay inequality, demanding that film companies "pay [her] what [she’s] worth" while working to "redefine what it means to be a dark-skinned Black woman."

Although the COVID-19 pandemic put Hollywood productions on hold, Davis has had two new — and significant — projects in development, and they couldn’t come at a time when we need her presence more. Showtime’s series First Ladies sees her portray former First Lady Michelle Obama, and she also appears as legendary blues singer Ma Rainey in the Netflix Original Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which debuted December 18 on the streaming service. If Ma Rainey leaves you craving more of this accomplished actor’s work, get familiar with some of the biggest and best roles that showcase Davis’ star power.