Place of Birth: St. Matthews, Calhoun, South Carolina, U.S.
Date of Birth: August 11, 1965
Viola Davis is an American actress and producer. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Fences (2016). Her roles also include Doubt, Madea Goes to Jail, Law Abiding Citizen, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, The Help, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Won’t Back Down, Ender’s Game, Prisoners, Get On Up, How to Get Away with Murder, Suicide Squad, Widows, Troop Zero, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and The Unforgivable.
She was born in South Carolina, in the American South, on her grandmother’s farm in the Singleton Plantation. She is the daughter of Mae/Mary Alice and Dan Davis, and was raised in Central Falls, Rhode Island, New England. Her father trained horses. Her mother was a maid, factory worker, and civil rights activist. Viola has recalled being taken to jail with her mother at a very young age, after a protest.
Viola is married to actor Julius Tennon, with whom she has a daughter, who is adopted. She is a second cousin of actor Mike Colter. Her maternal grandfather, Henry Logan, was the brother of Mike’s paternal grandmother, Vinnie/Viney Logan.
A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2023) stated that Viola’s genetic ancestry consists of:
*93% Sub-Saharan African
——–*32% Cameroon, Congo, & West Bantu Peoples
——–*8% Benin & Togo
——–*5% Ivory Coast & Ghana
——–*4% England & North Western Europe
——–*2% Sweden & Denmark
Genetically, she was found to have a common ancestor with professor and activist Anita Hill.
Viola’s paternal grandfather is named Eugene Davis (the son of Anna). Eugene was born in South Carolina.
Viola’s paternal grandmother is Idella Johnson (the daughter of George Johnson, Jr. and Anna Ferguson/Furgerson). Idella was born in South Carolina. George was the son of George Johnson and Della H.
Viola’s maternal grandfather was Henry Logan (the son of John Young and Corine/Corrine Revanel/Ravenel/Ravernal/Ravenell). Henry was born in St. Matthews, Calhoun, South Carolina. John was the son of Ross Young and Ida Boyd. Corine was the daughter of William/Rierson Ravenell/Ravenel and Mettie/Mittie/Minty/Mintise Sweitzer.
Viola’s maternal grandmother was Mozell/Mozel/Moselle/Mozelle Howell (the daughter of Cyrus Howell/Howelle and Lucinda Duckson). Mozell was born in St. Matthews, Calhoun, South Carolina. Cyrus was the son of Emanuel/Manwell Howell, Jr., who was born into slavery, and of Jenny. Lucinda was the daughter of Paul Duckson and Eliza Hart/Duckson.
Sources: Genealogy of Viola Davis – https://www.geni.com
Genealogy of Viola Davis (focusing on her father’s side) – https://www.wikitree.com
Viola’s father on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
Viola’s maternal grandmother, Mozell/Mozel/Moselle/Mozelle Howell, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org