When Viola Davis tackles August Wilson on Broadway, the Tony nominators sit up and take notice. Her first nomination came in 1996 for playing Vera in Seven Guitars, then she won the Best Featured Actress prize five years later for playing Tonya in King Hedley II. In 2010, Davis is a Best Actress nominee for her acclaimed performance as Rose Maxson opposite Denzel Washington in Fences. Looking back on her first big win, Davis counts her blessings.
Which year did you win your first Tony?
For which role and show?
Tonya in August Wilson's King Hedley II
Where were the awards held?
Radio City Music Hall
Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane
What did you wear?
A multi-colored beaded dress
Who was sitting next to you?
My boyfriend at the time, who's now my husband, Julius Tennon
Who did you think would win your category?
What was the first thing that ran through your mind when they said your name?
"Can this really be happening?"
Did you forget to thank anyone?
Did you cry?
If you could relive that night, would you change anything?
I would have not performed a scene from King Hedley II on the telecast.
Who were you most surprised to hear from after the win?
Did winning a Tony change your life? How?
Yes. It confirmed for me that dreams can really be transformed into reality.
What's your biggest memory of the night?
My sister running towards me in Radio City just as ecstatic as me—and proud!
What's the best piece of advice you can offer for getting through Tony night?
That it truly is an honor and a blessing to have been nominated. Remember that 98% of people in our profession are unemployed.
Where do you keep your Tony?
Umm… I forgot. Somewhere in my home in Los Angeles.