Cover photo: Richard Trachtenberg, Trunk archive

Cover photo: Richard Trachtenberg, Trunk archive

Viola Davis talks about happiness, family, and giving back

Our first Fierce cover girl is not only having an amazing year, this August 11th, she turned the big 5-0 and celebrated by posing for the cover of the story of AARP: The Magazine.

Gearing up for the second season of her hit show, How to Get Away with Murder, which airs in September, Davis tells AARP she is “living her dream.” The two-time Tony winner is now nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Lead series for her star turn as the brilliant, sexy, sensitive and deeply-flawed attorney, Annalise Keating. If she wins, she will be the first black woman to take home the top award.

It’s no surprise that Davis is the critic’s favorite to win. As Keating, she exhibits the range and depth of talent that has made her a quiet legend in her industry. One minute she’s a broken, weeping wife, the next she’s pure fury in the face of betrayal, before she fixes her eye make-up, adjusts her wig and spellbinds a courtroom to win another case.

Yet, as much as she is enjoying her success on the small screen, Davis lets AARP know that it is her escape from childhood poverty and self-doubt that she cherishes. Of her young life in Rhode Island she says, “what I saw [looking at photos] at that time was dark skin, being poor and all the things that come with poverty — smelling and being unkempt. … now I see how passionate I was. How much I dreamed and what a good and loyal friend I was.”

Joy and Giving Back

Now with husband, actor Julius Tennon, and daughter, Genesis, at the center of her life and a career that seems unstoppable, Davis has added one more, very important dimension to her life.

Even though she is far from the hunger and cold that haunted her family in her youth, she works to save other children from the same fate. Davis is now in her second year as an ambassador for Safeway’s Hunger Is campaign to raise awareness and fight childhood hunger.

“After an incredibly successful inaugural year with Hunger Is,” Davis says, “I am grateful to keep the momentum in finding a solution to a problem that is too often forgotten. We have the opportunity to change so many young lives for the better and I look forward to the day when this is no longer an issue in our country.”

She has come a million miles since her days winning talent shows in Central Falls, RI, but even as she enjoys her gorgeous Los Angeles home, Davis has not forgotten where she comes from or the millions of other little girls who dream, passionately, of better days.