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Viola Davis Is The Only African-American Actor To Hold This Prestigious Honor

Over the past decade, Viola Davis has been an unstoppable force in the film world. She’s dedicated her entire adult life to perfecting her craft, and she’s raked in countless accolades for her work. However, there’s one achievement that separates her from even the finest of Hollywood’s acting crop.

Viola Davis Holds A Triple Crown Of Acting

Viola Davis showed an affinity for acting at an extremely young age, and she went on to study at the prestigious Juilliard School in her twenties. There’s no disputing that Davis has since established herself as one of the most skilled actresses of her generation. In 2020, the New York Times ranked Davis at number nine in their list of “The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century (So Far).”

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In 1996, Davis made her Broadway debut in the play Seven Guitars, earning her first Tony nomination. She went on to win her first Tony Award for her role in King Hedley II and her second for Fences.

In 2008, Davis landed her first Oscar nomination for her role in Doubt. Despite only appearing in a single scene, she was revered as a standout talent. In 2011, she appeared in The Help, earning her yet another Oscar nomination.

Finally, in 2016, Davis won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for reprising her role in the film adaptation of Fences. She earned yet another Academy Award nomination for her work in the 2020 film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. She has more Oscar nominations than any other African-American actress in history.

In 2015, Davis won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in How to Get Away with Murder. She went on to be nominated in this category four more times. So, if you’re keeping count, that’s two Tony Awards, an Academy Award, and an Emmy—all in competitive acting categories. This means that Davis holds a prestigious honor: the Triple Crown of Acting. She is one of only 24 actors to receive this honor and the only African American among them.

Other Great Actors Have Come Close To The Crown

Now, the emphasis here is on the “acting” part of the title. There are certainly African Americans who hold the prestigious EGOT title—an acronym for “Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony.” Yet, for each one, they earned at least one of their qualifying awards in categories unrelated to acting. Davis is the only African American to earn an Oscar, Tony, and Emmy on her acting chops alone.

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Plenty of other actors have come close, landing EGOT titles in the process. James Earl Jones came closer than any other African-American actor or actress before Davis. He would hold a Triple Crown of Acting, but his Oscar—an Academy Honorary Award—is not in a competitive acting category.

Whoopi Goldberg has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but her Tony award is for producing, and her Emmys are for her hosting work. Lastly, Jennifer Hudson has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but her Emmy and Tony awards are for producing alone. Of course, that’s not to say that any one is more talented than the others, but Viola Davis absolutely deserves special recognition for her accomplishments.

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