Before her film and television success, Davis made a name for herself in the theater. After her first nomination in 1996 for “Seven Guitars,” Davis won a Tony for her performance in the 2001 play “King Hedley II,” in which she played Tonya, the wife of the titular ex-con. She would win a second Tony within the decade: scoring Best Leading Actress in a Play for “Fences” in 2010. All three plays were written by August Wilson.
“Fences” would prove her most important role to date: after being nominated twice and losing, Davis finally won an Oscar for reprisal her role in the “Fences” film adaptation in 2016. Just a few years later, she was nominated again for starring in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — another Wilson adaptation. She has received four Oscar nominations total, being the first Black woman to do so.
In a January interview, Davis said “The Grammy nomination and how the book has done have been truly a gift that I didn’t expect,” adding,
“I feel this way, even though it’s probably a very dramatic statement on my part: I think that everybody wants their life to mean something. I believe in the Cherokee birth blessing, which is ‘May you live long enough to know why you were born.’ I do believe that you literally wanna blow a hole through this world in whatever way you can.”