Previous recipients of AAFCA’s icon honor are Sidney Poitier and Kenya Barris.
Announcing the honor, AAFCA president Gil Robertson said: “Viola Davis has excelled in every single format available to an actor. She’s a powerhouse actress who continues to impress with her incredible range and ability to lend herself to any era and dig deep into the humanity of every character she plays.”
“When you think about her in ‘Doubt,’’The Help,’ ‘Fences’ and now ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,’ she just goes there,” he continued. “Following in the footsteps of other legendary actresses by becoming an advocate for social justice issues and taking additional steps of creating the images that we see by producing, she has firmly established herself as a true artist.”
Davis is one of the most celebrated actresses in Hollywood history. She won the best supporting actress Oscar in 2017 for her work in “Fences.” In 2015, Davis made history with her lead actress in a drama Emmy win for “How to Get Away with Murder” and has two Tony awards, for “Fences” and “King Hedley II.” Davis was also nominated for Academy Awards for her work in “The Help” and “Doubt.”
In Aug. 2020, Davis accepted the best actress award during AAFCA’s TV honors for the final season of “How to Get Away with Murder.”
Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” — in which Davis stars as Ma Rainey, the Mother of the Blues — was named one of the ten best films of the 2020 by AAFCA’s members.
“The common theme with all of our Top 10 Films this year is the grace of humanity,” Robertson said of the list. “All of these films spotlighted different circumstances that put the human spirit to a test.”
The late Chadwick Boseman, Davis’ co-star in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s play, will also be honored during the virtual ceremony, posthumously awarded the best actor prize.
The film’s director George C. Wolfe is set to receive the Salute to Excellence Award, as one of the event’s special achievement honorees alongside Mariah Carey, “All In: The Fight for Democracy” producer Stacey Abrams and filmmakers Lisa Cortés and Liz Garbus and Netflix.