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University News

Lecture Board names Viola Davis speaker

Emmy-winning Rhode Island native outspoken on issues facing women, people of color in media

Contributing Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2016

Updated Feb. 18, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. 

Emmy Award-winning actress Viola Davis will speak at the University Feb. 29, representatives of the Brown Lecture Board told The Herald.

“She did very well in the speaker poll,” said Allie Schaefer ’17, vice president of campus relations for Lecture Board, adding that “we knew there was a lot of student interest in bringing her to campus.”

Davis was the first black woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annalise Keating in “How to Get Away with Murder.” She is also well known for her Oscar-nominated performance as Aibileen Clark in “The Help.”

Davis attended the Julliard School for four years after graduating from Rhode Island College in 1988 with a major in theatre. Her 19-year acting career started with her role as an extra on the set of “The Substance of Fire” and took off after she won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award in 2001 for her role as Tonya in “King Hedley II.”

The Rhode Island native is also known for bringing to light issues facing women and people of color in the entertainment industry.

“You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” Davis said in her September 2015 Emmy acceptance speech, pointing out the lack of opportunity for actresses of color.

“We thought she could provide a really important perspective to campus,” Schaefer said, noting that Davis would address “issues of intersectionality in the media.”

Davis will speak in Salomon 101 Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available via online lottery held at 12 p.m. Feb. 24-26. The lottery will be open to Brown ID holders. 

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