”There was a lot of bisexuality going on, unapologetically.” Oscar-winner Viola Davis on playing a queer blues star

December 18, 2020
Ferocious. Majestic. Powerful. What words can really capture the stature of Viola Davis?

Born in South Carolina, Davis grew up in poverty before landing a spot at the prestigious Julliard School to study drama. She found almost immediate success on stage thereafter, winning a Tony Award for her work in August Wilson's 'King Hedley II' in 2001. Roles in film and television followed, including turns in 'Law & Order: SVU,' 'Doubt' and 'The Help.' In 2015, she became the first black woman to win a Best Actress in a Drama Emmy for 'How to Get Away With Murder,' before picking up an Academy Award for 'Fences' in 2017.

Now Davis returns to her August Wilson roots, stepping into the shoes of one of the playwright's best-known heroines. 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' imagines a day in the life of the real-life bisexual blues singer. George C. Wolfe, original stage director of 'Angels in America' directs Davis opposite actor Chadwick Boseman ('Black Panther') in his final performance.

We scored a few minutes to talk with Davis about the character and how she operated as an out-bisexual woman in the 1920s. 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' comes to Netflix December 18.

Video Editor: David Beerman