Monday 4th of December 2023

Nairobi, Kenya

Oscars 2021: Viola Davis most nominated Black actress with ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ nod

Viola Davis says Black stories ‘deserve to be told’

LOS ANGELES – This year, Viola Davis became the Oscars’ most nominated Black female actor ever when she landed her fourth nomination, this one for her lead role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Who is Viola Davis?

Davis won an Academy Award for her appearance in the 2016 film “Fences,” a role she originated in a 2001 Broadway revival that landed her a Tony Award. The Oscar win made her the first Black woman to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony for acting.

She won her Emmy in 2015 for her role in “How To Get Away With Murder,” and she has another Tony win for her role in “King Hedley II.”

Along the way, her impassioned acceptance speeches have been some of the most potent thunderbolts of inspiration in the wider fight for diversity, beamed out to the unrepresented and the overlooked everywhere.

The 55-year-old actress has been a mainstay on screens big and small and is more often getting cast front and center, with her roles in “How to Get Away With Murder” and the 2018 film “Widows.”

Davis also has a production company, JuVee Productions, with her husband, the actor Julius Tennon. She told the Associated Press in 2019 her goal is to normalize people of color on the screen.

“We’re not social statements. We’re not mythical creatures all the time … you can literally put pen to paper and write a great story that includes people of color, and it could actually sell,” she said.

Davis the most nominated Black woman in Oscars history along with her “Fences” nod, she was also nominated for best actress for 2011’s “The Help” and best-supporting actress for 2008’s “Doubt.”

If she won Sunday, she would have been the second Black woman crowned the best actress in Oscars history. Just once before has a Black woman (Halle Berry in 2002 for “Monster’s Ball”) won the best actress?

What is “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” about?
The film, based on an August Wilson play, is set around a recording session in 1920’s Chicago as a blues band awaits the arrival of Ma Rainey. The movie also includes the final performance from actor Chadwick Boseman, who died last year of cancer.

Content courtesy of ABC 7Chicago & Nairobi fashion hub 

How Viola Davis Won Awards Season with her Colorful Red Carpet Style

In this strangest of awards seasons, Viola Davis was a rare bright spot.

The 55-year-old star, who’s nominated for Best Actress at the 2021 Oscars for her performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” has captivated fashion lovers with her parade of colorful red-carpet looks over the past few months, injecting some much-needed joy into a year defined by a global pandemic and a long-overdue reckoning with systemic racism.

To be sure, Davis has long gravitated toward bold, bright hues on the red carpet. Who could forget the red-hot Armani she wore while accepting her Best Supporting Actress statuette for “Fences” at the 2017 Academy Awards, or the bubblegum pink Michael Kors column she chose for the same show the following year?

But, in 2021, the majority of the Juilliard grad’s vibrant-as-ever red-carpet looks were designed not by the usual red-carpet heavy hitters, but lesser-known labels led by creatives of color.

As a result, her outfits from monochromatic marvels by Greta Constantine to a custom peplum confection courtesy of Duro Olowu have made major statements in more ways than one.

“Pretty dresses are, well, everywhere,” Greta Constantine designer Kirk Pickersgill, who created two bold gowns that Davis wore this season, told Page Six Style. “By contrast, dresses that celebrate your strength and empower both you and your tomorrow are far more difficult to come across.”

The designer added that by championing black-owned brands, Davis “has opened the doors for so many of us that have been locked out.”

“There is nothing more beautiful than an individual using their platform to not only look good but also do good,” Pickersgill told us.

Ahead of Sunday’s Oscars, let’s take a look back at Davis’ winning style throughout the season.

Lavie by CK for the Golden Globes

“It’s about feeling good and looking good in your queendom,” Cameroon-born designer Claude Kameni told Page Six Style of the inspiration behind the show-stopping mermaid gown Davis chose for the Golden Globes in February.

Kameni had just one week to complete the puff-sleeved dress from printed African fabric, but the end result, which had her at “a loss for words,” was “definitely worth the all-nighters.”

“We started saying, ‘Viola’s gonna violate this dress,’” the self-taught designer quipped, with a laugh, adding that she hopes to see more A-listers following Davis’ lead when it comes to supporting black fashion talent.

“There’s a whole bunch of talented designers that need their names out there; it shouldn’t just be the same designers all the time,” Kameni said. “Give someone else a spotlight!”

Greta Constantine for the Critics Choice Awards

“After months of panic and fear, we wanted garments that excited us, styles that evoked a sense of hope,” Pickersgill told us of Davis’ ruffle-trimmed cerulean frock. “By producing bright, structural garments, we were looking to bring a smile to the face of both the wearer and the beholder.”

Pickersgill added that seeing the star in her bright blue gown was about “so much more than the fashion. It was about capturing a moment in history that celebrates black creativity in all of its beautiful, challenging, inspiring forms.”

Duro Olowu for the NAACP Image Awards

Appropriately dubbed the “happy dress” by stylist Elizabeth Stewart, this cheery printed peplum frock was a perfect pick for Davis to wear during her double win for “Ma Rainey” and “How To Get Away With Murder” at the NAACP Image Awards in March.

Nigerian-born British designer Olowu has also dressed Michelle Obama, Lupita Nyong’o, and Thandiwe Newton, to name but a few.

Louis Vuitton for the SAG Awards

According to the French fashion house, Davis’ lime green gown took 140 hours of work and 10,000 sequins to complete. The gold and silver embellishments formed a geometric pattern that ran parallel to a pair of zippers down both sides of the strong-shouldered dress, perfectly framing the star’s silhouette at the SAG Awards in early April.

Greta Constantine for the African American Film Critics Association Awards

Davis picked another look from Greta Constantine’s spring 2021 collection this one in ruffled sunny yellow for her last pre-Oscars appearance on the awards circuit when she netted the icon award at the African American Film Critics Association Awards.

“After months in which we had no choice but to take everything seriously, this was one of those garments that would invite you to let your guard down and simply be,” Pickersgill said.

Content courtesy of Page Six & Nairobi fashion hub




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