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Acclaimed actress Viola Davis to help commemorate IU’s 200th anniversary and MLK Day

Academy Award-winning actress, producer and philanthropist Viola Davis will deliver a keynote lecture as part of a university wide Day of Commemoration to recognize the Indiana University Bicentennial and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 20, 2020.

Davis is the first Black actor to win acting’s triple crown — Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards — and she has twice been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Davis’ lecture, at 4 p.m. Jan. 20 at IU Auditorium, will be free and open to the public.

“Viola Davis is one of our nation’s finest and most accomplished actors, who has inspired many individuals through her remarkable life story, rich body of work and rise to the top of her profession,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “Both on screen and on stage, she has captivated audiences with a number of memorable and award-winning performances. She has also become a forceful voice for women and women of color, challenging media stereotypes and championing the need for equal opportunities.

“We are extremely honored and pleased that such an extraordinary actor, activist and philanthropist will join us for this special day of commemoration and historic day for Indiana University.”

Davis earned acting’s coveted “triple crown” upon winning the 2017 Academy Award for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Rose Maxson in the film “Fences.” She had previously earned the Tony Award for best actress in the 2010 revival of the August Wilson play “Fences.” In 2015, she became the first Black actress to receive the Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her work in the hit ABC TV show “How to Get Away With Murder.”

Davis’ professional career spans more than two decades and roles in numerous critically acclaimed and commercially successful films, plays and TV series, several of which have garnered her the highest of critical honors.

She is a three-time Academy Award nominee. In addition to her 2017 Oscar win, she won the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Screen Actors Guild award for the same role in “Fences.”

Davis is also widely recognized for her activism and philanthropy. In 2012, she and her husband founded JuVee, an artist-driven production company focused on giving a voice to the voiceless through strong, impactful and culturally relevant narratives. The Los Angeles-based company produces film, television and digital content across all of entertainment.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Viola Davis will headline the university’s Bicentennial and Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations,” said James C. Wimbush, IU vice president of diversity, equity and multicultural affairs; dean of the University Graduate School; and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership at IU. “Her stalwart compassion and dedication will enrich this momentous occasion and offer the IU community the perfect opportunity to be reflective, joyous and eager for the future.”

Davis has received an honorary doctorate from The Juilliard School as well as from her alma mater, Rhode Island College. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Ticketing information

Free general admission tickets to Davis’ lecture were issued on the IU Auditorium website beginning at 10 a.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 4. Tickets also were obtained in person at the IU Auditorium box office, beginning at the same time. There is a limit of two tickets per person.

Events and activities will continue throughout the 2019-20 academic year, which has been designated as the official IU Bicentennial Year.

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