The third time's the charm. After three nominations, Viola Davis finally won her Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards Sunday — a Best Supporting Actress trophy for her powerhouse turn as Rose Maxson, a put-upon wife in the adaptation of August Wilson's play Fences.
Davis, who won a Tony in 2010 for the revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning show on Broadway, nabbed a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for the role earlier this year. Now, with an Oscar, a Tony and Emmy (her 2015 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama win for her role as Annalise Keating on How to Get Away with Murder), Davis is a Triple Crown performer (Oscar, Emmy and Tony) and just needs to win a Grammy to join the rarified ranks of EGOT performers.
"There's one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered, and that's the graveyard," she said in her tearful acceptance speech. "People ask me all the time, 'What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?' And I say, 'Exhume those bodies, exhume those stories. The stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition. People who fell in love and lost. I became an artist, and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life."
She thanked the late August Wilson, who wrote the play, "who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people."
And she gave a big shout out to her director and co-star: "Oh captain, my captain, Denzel Washington — thank you for putting two entities in the driving seat, August and God. And they served you well."
Despite some mild controversy — some felt her placement in the supporting category was borderline category fraud, to assure a win versus competing in the crowded lead field — Davis was long considered the favorite to win.
She bested Naomie Harris, Nicole Kidman, Octavia Spencer and Michelle Williams to take home the award.