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Viola Davis Pays Tribute to ‘Fences’ Playwright August Wilson After Winning SAG Award

Viola Davis won the SAG Award for best supporting actress for the searing drama “Fences” opposite Denzel Washington, and in her speech, remembered August Wilson, who wrote the play on which the film is based.

“What August did so beautifully is he honored the average man who happened to be a man of color,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t have to shake the world and move the world and create anything that is going to be in the history book. The fact that we breathe and live a life and was a god to our children. Just that means that we have a story and it deserves to be told.”

She went on, “We deserve to be in the Canon, in the center of any narrative, and that’s what August did. He elevated my father, my mother, my uncles who had eighth and fifth grade educations and he encapsulated them in history. Thank you, August. Thank you.”

Davis won the award — announced Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium — over Naomie Harris for “Midnight,” Nicole Kidman for “Lion,” Octavia Spencer for “Hidden Figures” and Michelle Williams for “Manchester by the Sea.”

She was nominated for an Academy Award on Jan. 24 for the role and faces the same field at the Oscars, to be announced Feb. 26. The award came three weeks after Davis won the Golden Globe in the same category against the same four actresses.

Davis portrays Rose Maxson in “Fences,” based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name, which is set in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. She becomes estranged from her husband during the course of the story due to his infidelity and alcoholism. Davis and Washington won Tony Awards for the 2010 revival of the play.

It’s the fourth SAG Award for Davis, who won the dramatic series trophy in 2015 and 2016 for “How to Get Away with Murder” and the lead actress for “The Help” in 2012. Davis was nominated for Oscars for “The Help” and “Doubt.”

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