Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Viola Davis doesn’t mince words about her childhood. “I was the kind of poor where I knew right away I had less than everyone around me,” she says. “We had nothing.” As she celebrates her historic Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in Fences, Davis, 51, reflects on her journey to the pinnacle of Hollywood success in PEOPLE’s new cover story. “‘I cannot believe my life,'” she says. “I just can’t. I’m so blessed.” The first black woman to ever be nominated for three Academy Awards, Davis has been paving her own way for more than 30 years, with powerful performances in films like 2011’s The Help and on TV, where she currently stars in ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder. Davis first envisioned herself as an actor after she watched Cicely Tyson in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman when she was a child. “It wasn’t until then that I had a visual manifestation of the target I wanted to hit,” she says. It also gave her hope for the future and a different life for herself: “She helped me have a very specific drive of how I was going to crawl, walk, run from that environment.”

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