Several years ago when I was still boiling an egg and making it last a week, I was apartment-mates with THE Viola Davis. It wasn't a romantic relation, so no need to call the Tabloids, but if you do, just get the name right. There were actually four of us in the apartment in Harlem and Viola was already a rising star. She had just won a Tony for her performance in August Wilson's Seven Guitars and the industry was quickly falling to her knees. Viola is one of those rare actresses: she actually has unwavering integrity. From Solaris to Far From Heaven to The Fantasia Barrino Story to Doubt, Viola always brings pure honesty and commitment to her characters. She brings art—she doesn't judge them, or mock them, she sincerely embodies them with every emotion and experience within her amazing natural and Julliard-trained gift. If you're one of the few who didn't support her by seeing Doubt in the theaters, well, it's not too late. Doubt is still playing at a theater near you [and I don't mean in your cousin's basement on bootleg either]. In Doubt, her Golden Globe-nominated role, Viola plays the mother of a Catholic school boy who may or may not be sexually involved with a white priest [Phillip Seymour Hoffman]. She has one ten-minute scene with Meryl Streep that transcends anything you've witnessed in film, in my somewhat biased opinion. Viola deserves that Golden Globe and I'm hoping she gets it. Here's to Viola Davis and to many more layered and spellbinding performances. She elevates the often-marginalized black artist experience into complete human terrority.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.