Viola Davis just made Oscar history with ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Viola Davis just made Oscar history with 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'

Not just any actor can land an Oscar nomination with less than 10 minutes of screen time. But then again, no one has ever accused Viola Davis of being just another actor. Since her first Oscar nomination for the 2008 drama Doubt, David has become one of the most accomplished stars today. Now thanks to Ma Rainey’s black background, she also holds the record.

Viola Davis poses in the press room at the 89th Academy Awards in 2017 | Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic

Which movie did Viola Davis win an Oscar for?

Film after film, Davis has delivered a consistently solid job. She has delivered hard-hitting performances in films such as Prisoners, Go up, and Widows. And even in successful tariffs like Suicide Squad, Davis manages to stand out. So it was probably only a matter of time until she landed an Oscar. And the movie to finally do it was from 2016 Fences.

Following nominations for Doubt and Ugly, Davis won her Oscar for playing Rose Maxson alongside star director Denzel Washington. Fences – based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play – also made her the first black woman to win an Emmy, Tony, and Oscar. Davis reworked with Washington for another adaptation of Wilson, namely Ma Rainey’s black background.

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‘Ma Rainey’s Dark Background’ Led Actor to Oscar History

As titular Ma Rainey, Davis delivers another stunning performance. Many Oscar pundits expected her to land the nomination. However, in doing so, Davis set a new bar for the recognition black women have earned at the Oscars. With Ma Rainey’s black background as the fourth Oscar, Davis is now the most nominated black woman in all acting categories.

Thanks to the 2021 Oscars, Davis is also the only black woman in history to land two nominations for Best Actress. Before her last appointment, Davis was tied with her Ugly co-star Octavia Spencer, who has so far received three Oscar nods and one win. As it stands, Washington remains the most nominated black actor of all time with two wins and eight nominations.

In his race for the podium, Davis faces stiff competition. Most notably, Andra Day and Carey Mulligan are favorites for their work in The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Promising young woman, respectively. Still, it doesn’t matter if Davis wins for Ma Rainey’s black backgroundThe late Chadwick Boseman is heavily favored to win Best Actor posthumously for his role opposite her.

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What is Viola Davis’ net worth?

Despite all of her accomplishments to date, Davis has been very open about the challenges she has faced in the industry. As a woman of color, Davis has grappled with the pay gap that she continues to face. Slow as it may be, the actor’s net worth continues to increase.

According to, Davis is worth around $ 25 million in 2020. The actor could be in leagues behind some of his contemporaries – like her Doubt co-star Meryl Streep, who has a net worth of $ 160 million – but she continues to break down barriers in the business.


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