Viola Davis leads the way in a different kind of battle

An illustration of Viola Davis from "The Woman King."
Viola Davis in “The Woman King.”
(Illustration by Désirée Kelly/For the Times)

Oscar, Emmy and two-time Tony winner Viola Davis, 57, constantly breaks ground, whether getting uncharacteristically physical as a warrior leader in “The Woman King” or making awards history.


A lead actress Oscar nomination for “Woman King” would be Davis’ third, after “The Help” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and fifth overall, after a supporting nomination for “Doubt” and win for “Fences.” Davis would join …


... performers in Oscar history who have reached the five-or-more nominations ranks.


The five-or-more club contains only two Black actors, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington. Davis would be the first Black woman.



Davis would be the sixth person to reach five nominations after receiving a first nomination after age 40. The others are Freeman, Judi Dench, Robert Duvall, Anthony Hopkins and Thelma Ritter. Davis drew her first nomination, for “Doubt,” at 43.


With four nominations, Davis already is the most nominated Black woman in history.

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If she wins for “Woman King,” Davis would be the first Black woman to receive multiple acting Academy Awards, and just the second to win a lead Oscar.


Awards seasons since Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) became the first Black woman to win a lead acting Oscar.