Actress Viola Davis was born on her grandmother's farm in South Carolina. When she was two months old her family moved to Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her father worked as a horse groomer and trainer. Davis was educated at Central Falls High School, where she developed a love of acting. She studied theater at Rhode Island College, and also attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City.
Davis made her screen debut with a small role as a nurse in 1996's The Substance of Fire (1996). Guest spots followed in various TV shows and films, and in 2000 she won the role of Nurse Lynnette Peeler in City of Angels (2000). In 2001, Davis appeared on Broadway in the play, 'King Hedley II', for which she was awarded a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Davis has worked with Steven Soderbergh on three projects - Traffic (2000), Solaris (2002) and Syriana (2005). Other projects include Far from Heaven (2002), Antwone Fisher (2002) and Disturbia (2007). In 2008, she played Mrs. Miller in Doubt (2008), for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. In 2011, she won critical acclaim for her starring role as Aibileen Clark in the box-office hit The Help (2011).