Just A Minute With: "Doubt" Oscar nominee Viola Davis

Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:05am EST
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By Cristy Lytal

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Ever since Viola Davis earned an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for her 12-minute scene in John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt," people have dubbed her the discovery of the year.

But she has a long history of stealing the show.

A graduate of Rhode Island College and Julliard, she won a Tony in 2001 for August Wilson's "King Headley II." She's a favorite of director Steven Soderbergh, having appeared in 1998's "Out of Sight," 2000's "Traffic," and 2002's "Solaris."

Davis also earned rave reviews in Denzel Washington's 2002 directing debut "Antwone Fisher" as the title character's drug-addicted mother, even though she didn't have any dialogue and only appeared in a single scene.

She spoke to Reuters about her role in "Doubt" and playing a reformed prostitute in Tyler Perry's "Madea Goes to Jail."

Q: How did you first decide to become an actress?

A: "When I was six years-old I saw Cicely Tyson play Jane Pittman in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," and I thought she looked like my mom. She has full lips and dark skin, an afro, and she aged from 15 to 105, 106. I was mesmerized and I just wanted to do that."

Q: What was the biggest challenge of portraying a mother who turns a blind eye to possible sexual abuse in "Doubt"?   Continued...

<p>Actress Viola Davis arrives at the nominees luncheon for the 81st annual Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California in this February 2, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Phil McCarten/Files</p>