Viola Davis — “Woman King”/Movie Queen

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“The Woman King” starring Viola Davis opens this week. Let’s not sleep on the many ways this is significant: A 57-year-old Black woman is the lead in a historical action epic (that not so coincidentally was directed by another Black woman and written by two more women). 

Let’s celebrate this fierce actress — who plays a general training a real-life, all-female, African warrior unit in the 19th century – with a quiz about her on-screen career. 

1. Davis won an Oscar for her performance in 2016’s “Fences,” but also received nominations for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “The Help” and what 2008 adaptation of a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play? 

2. Speaking of awards, Davis is just one shy of EGOT status; she only needs a Grammy. But true or false: She is the only Black performer to win the Triple Crown of Acting – an Oscar, Emmy and Tony in the acting categories. 

3. Which of the following actors has Viola Davis appeared in the most movies with: Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Octavia Spencer, Chadwick Boseman or Allison Janney? 

4. Almost a decade before her role as a domestic in “The Help,” Davis co-starred as a maid in a 2002 melodrama set in the 1950s, a period when that was often the only sort of character available for Black actresses to play. Name the film.  

5. Which Steven Soderbergh-directed movie does NOT feature Davis in its cast: “Erin Brockovich,” “Out of Sight,” “Solaris” or “Traffic”? 

6. In 2018’s “Widows,” who plays Davis’ (not so SPOILER alert, given the title) murdered husband? 

7. “Widows” was based on a British TV series, as was what 2009 drama featuring Davis, alongside Oscar winners Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, Ben Affleck and Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams, all directed by Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald? 

8. Viola Davis played the mother of what music superstar in the biopic about them: 50 Cent in “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” Ray Charles in “Ray,” Dr. Dre in “Straight Outta Compton” or James Brown in “Get on Up”? 

9. In 2013’s “Prisoners,” Davis co-starred with an actress who would later come up with the idea for “The Woman King” and write the original story the screenplay is based on. Who is she? (P.S. They both also appeared in 2006’s “World Trade Center.”) 

10. In 2009, Davis appeared in her only Tyler Perry movie, which went on to be the writer-director-actor’s biggest box office success to date. What was it?

 

 

 

ANSWERS

1. “Doubt”

2. True. EGOT winners Whoopi Goldberg, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson claimed some of their prizes for producing, hosting, best song, etc. 

3. Tie: George Clooney and Allison Janney with three apiece. (Two-time co-star Denzel Washington also directed “Fences” and produced “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”) And fun fact: Her true most frequent co-star might be Jessica Chastain. In addition to “The Help,” they appeared together in 2014’s “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” which was split into three different films, subtitled “Him,” “Her” and “Them.”

4. “Far from Heaven”

5. “Erin Brockovich”

6. Liam Neeson

7. “State of Play”

8. James Brown (played by her “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” co-star Chadwick Boseman) in “Get on Up.” She did, however, play the grandmother of the fictionalized version of 50 Cent in “Get Rich of Die Tryin’.”

9. Maria Bello

10. “Madea Goes to Jail”

 

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