Viola Davis Wins Grammy, Joins EGOT Club

By Terrance Turner

Feb. 5, 2023

Photo from Twitter.

Actress Viola Davis just won a Grammy.

Davis won the Grammy Award for Best Audiobook for narrating the audiorecording of her memoir Finding Me.


““Oh, my God,” Davis said upon receiving the award. “I wrote this book to honor the 6-year- old Viola: to honor her, her life, her joy, her trauma — everything. And it has been such a journey — I just EGOT!!!”


The term “EGOT” refers to people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. Only 18 people have achieved EGOT status; Davis is the fourth Black person (alongside Whoopi Goldberg, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson) to do so. 

Davis earned an Emmy in 2015 for playing Annalise Keating on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, making her the first Black woman to win the lead drama actress award.

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Viola Davis (C) accepts Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series award for ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ from actor Adrien Brody (L) onstage during the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” she said in her acceptance speech.

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 20: Actress Viola Davis poses in the press room at the 67th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)


Davis won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2017 for her role as housewife Rose Maxson in 2016’s Fences.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: Actress Viola Davis, winner of the award for Actress in a Supporting Role for ‘Fences,’ poses in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)

She is the most nominated Black woman in the history of the Academy Awards. Davis has four total Oscar nominations. Her first nod was for best supporting actress (for 2008’s Doubt). She was also nominated for best actress for The Help (2011) and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2021). But Fences gave Davis her lone win.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: Actor Viola Davis, winner of the Best Supporting Actress award for ‘Fences’ poses in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


Additionally, Davis has two Tony awards. She won Best Featured Actress in a Play for “King Hedley II” in 2001 and won Best Actress in a Play for the Broadway production of “Fences” in 2010. (She later reprised her role as Rose for the film.)

NEW YORK – JUNE 13: Helen Mirren (L) looks on as Viola Davis (R) accepts her award onstage during the 64th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 13, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

Now, she has a Grammy. In her speech, Davis thanked HarperCollins, the publisher of her book. She also thanked “everybody who was a part of my story.” Subsequently, Davis grew emotional as she thanked her husband and daughter. “Julius, Genesis, you are my life. You are my joy. You are the best chapter in my book. Thank you.”

THE OSCARS: Davis at the 89th annual Academy Awards with her husband, Julius Tennon. Photo from Getty Images.

Finding Me

Speaking of the book: Davis writes candidly in it about her childhood marked by abject poverty and domestic violence. According to The Guardian, “The memoir begins with a spunky eight-year-old Viola, a “sassy mess” with torn socks and too-big shoes who every day is chased home from school by a group of racist boys throwing rocks, bricks, tree branches and pine cones. In order to help her defend herself, her mother, Mae Alice Davis, who worked as a maid and factory worker and was active in the civil rights movement, gives her a shiny blue crochet needle to stab them with and tells her to walk, not run.” 

They are the only African-American family in the densely populated, drug-stained town of Central Falls, Rhode Island, having relocated there from South Carolina. They live in a condemned building, often with no hot water, gas or electricity, and the rats are so bad and bold that they eat the faces of Viola’s dolls and jump on to her bed at night searching for food. She never goes into the kitchen because of them […]

“In addition to the “dumpster-diving”, food stamps and persistent hunger, there was her father’s alcoholism and violence to contend with, rendering the family home a “war zone”. Dan Davis was a racetrack horse groomer as well as being “pretty good” on the guitar and harmonica. Davis writes fondly of going to the stables with him, of his fierce protection of his family and his enthusiasm around festive periods; he was big on Valentine’s Day and every year put up a Christmas tree. But she is candid in the memoir about his frequent beatings of his children and, most particularly, his wife. Viola and her older sister Deloris would escape the trauma of “our mom being beaten and screaming in pain” by acting out role-plays of being “rich, white Beverly Hills matrons, with big jewels and little chihuahuas”.

From The Guardian

That role-playing led her to become a theater major in college. It led her to a spot at the prestigious Juilliard School, where she was one of just 30 Black students in a student body of 856. It propelled her to shine onstage, with roles in August Wilson’s plays King Hedley and Fences. And it helped her make history, becoming the first Black person to win the “Triple Crown” of acting: Emmy, Tony, Oscar. When Davis won best supporting actress for “Fences,” she remembered her sister in an emotional speech: “To my sister, my sister, Dolores who’s here — who played with me. We were rich white women in the tea party games. Thank you for the imagination.”

This story will be updated.

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