VIOLA DAVIS

Serving Up Hope for Children

By: Kristian Fenner

violaDavisAward-winning actor, Viola Davis, is simply amazing and a legend in her own right. From her Tony Award-winning performances in King Hedley II and Fences to her Academy Award-nominated performances in The Help and Doubt, to Screen Actors Guild Awards, Critics’ Choice and People’s Choice Awards, and nominations for Golden Globe Awards and British Academy Film Awards, Viola has effectually bounded over hurdles of entertainment becoming one of the most accomplished and celebrated actors Classically trained, Viola Davis began using theater in high school as a form of escape from her impoverished reality. Her passion and incredible abilities lead to a full scholarship to the Young People’s School of the Performing Arts before attending the prominent Julliard School for four years. Some of her notable film roles include Get On Up, Beautiful Creatures, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Eat Pray Love.

Currently, Viola can be seen on Shonda Rhimes’s hit ABC series How to Get Away with Murder. However, one of her most powerful roles to date is not one she plays on screen, but rather the one she plays as the spokesperson for hungry children around It wasn’t until recently that Davis felt secure enough to share her personal story of being hungry growing up. While as a child, Viola Davis mined though trash cans to find food, she is now able to use her experience to educate the public. Unfortunately, Davis’ story is not an isolated experience. As statistics show, one in five children in America suffers from hunger. That means, nearly 17 million children live in households classified as “food insecure” and are at risk of hunger every day. According to a study from No Kid Hungry, which is a campaign to increase access to school breakfasts and improve testing scores, hunger plays a major role on academic achievement and overall health.
Knowing all too well the social stigma that growing up hungry has on people, Davis is now proudly working with campaigns like Hunger Is to help destroy the child hunger epidemic. The campaign is a joint venture between the Safeway Foundation, which supports causes that impact their customers’ lives, and Entertainment Industry Foundation, a multifaceted organization that occupies a unique place in the world of The Hunger Is program is designed to raise awareness, engage volunteers, and raise funds in support of their mission to eradicate childhood hunger in America. Funds raised through the program, both online through HungerIs.org and in Safeway’s grocery stores, go toward innovative and effective programs throughout the country focused on eliminating childhood hunger. In its inaugural year, Hunger Is raised over $4.5 million to help fund breakfast programs in order to provide children with a healthy start to their day and the best chance to excel was the primary focus. The program has since paired with the Department of Agriculture to push for more summer food programs and rolled out a Community Eligibility program that allows schools with high percentages of low-income kids to serve breakfast and lunch to all students.

In addition to her work with Hunger Is, Viola Davis supports organizations like Children’s Hunger Alliance where she was recently the keynote speaker at their 20th annual Menu of Hope event, an organization and program dedicated to ensuring all children are fed regular and nutritious meals and develop lifelong healthy habits.  She’s also noted for supporting charities such as Friendly House, a women’s rehabilitation organization, and Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that collects and distributes Whether she’s playing the sophisticated lawyer Annalise Keating on television’s HTGAWM or in her upcoming role on the DC Comics film Suicide Squad, Viola Davis never ceases to captivate audiences while breaking down barriers in our society. With
her remarkable talent and her heart of gold, Viola Davis is a true legend.