When the Oscar nominations were announced earlier this week, the talented Tony and Emmy Award winning actress Viola Davis found herself being nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance as Rose in the film adaptation of the Tony Award August Wilson play, 'Fences'.This major achievement arrived mere weeks after winning the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for the same role. Her co-star, and director of the movie, Hollywood heavyweight, and 2-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, also finding himself nominated for Best Actor. It is fitting that both actors should be recognised for their extremely fine work in the film as it measures up to the performances they delivered on the Broadway stage in the 2010 production of 'Fences', earning them both Best Actor and Best Actress Awards, respectively. As someone who actually caught the play in New York, I can honestly say seeing these two acclaimed actors deliver their powerhouse performances in the flesh gave me one of my most memorable theatre experiences ever. It is now refreshing to see after the debacle of last year's nominations, with it's distinct lack of people of colour, causing the widespread emergence of #OscarsSoWhite on social media and beyond, Ms Davis and Mr Washington, along with several other non white actors achieve acknowledgement for their outstanding work from the industry.
Amidst all the joy and celebration of a nod from the Academy for Viola Davis is the fact she has made Oscar history. After becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy for a lead actress in a drama series in 2015 for 'How To Get Away With Murder', she is now the first black actress ever to receive 3 Oscar nominations. Her first Best Supporting Actress nod came in the 2008 drama 'Doubt', which starred Meryl Streep (close friend to Ms Davis, even appearing with her when she was given a Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame earlier this month) and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Though her contribution to the film consisted of only two scenes, one being an extended conversation with Streep and the other only appearing on screen for 10 seconds in silence, it was felt her heart wrenching performance clearly warranted a nomination.The Academy chose to highlight her work again in the civil rights 1960's set 'The Help from 2011, and though she did not receive the Best Actress Oscar, her co-star Octavia Spencer (yet another actress of colour who has been nominated this year, in the US surprise box office hit 'Hidden Figures') managed to collect the big prize for Best Supporting Actress. So now we come to 'Fences'. Will the third time be the charm? It has already been stated on many occasions by many of the Hollywood industry, including by the aforementioned Meryl Streep, it is only a matter of time before Ms Davis has that little golden statuette in her hand. I, for one am a believer and simply for what she brings to the film 'Fences', if there is any justice, come 26th February 2017, Viola Davis will join the ranks of Oscar winners, and it will be richly deserved.