Viola Davis, Genesis Tennon

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for GBK Productions

Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon's daughter Genesis may only be five years old but she already wants to go into the family business.

"She says she wants to be an actress," the How to Get Away With Murder star told me this weekend at the Four Seasons in Maui before being honored with a Navigator Award at the Maui Film Festival. "[She says], "I gotta live the words, I gotta breath the words, I gotta remember the words,' and I said, 'Yeah and you also gotta go to school and get out of this house and pay your own rent.'...I just think this is a terrific profession. The work is fantastic, but the lifestyle? Eh. I don't want to choose that for her at a young age."

Davis, 50, has never shied away from her past. She has spoken openly about growing up in extreme poverty. An acting career didn't always seem to be in reach when she was a child in Rhode Island.

Viola Davis, Instagram


"I hoped, I dreamed but I didn't know," Davis said. "I just felt like the dreaming and the hoping would be enough and I think for the most part it is. I think that's what makes you get up in the morning and keeps you working and keeps you excited and in it and passionate and I think it's the passion that carries you through life."

Davis headed straight to Maui from the last day of shooting Fences, the film adaptation of the August Wilson play of the same name costarring and directed by Denzel Washington. Davis and Washington won Tonys for their work in the Broadway production in 2010.

Davis would rather be performing on stage than in front of a camera.

"I feel like the stage is a place that I feel comfortable because with TV and screen I always feel 'the extra,'" she explained. "And it's the extra that i don't always have or I don't feel like I have. You have to have the sex appeal, you got to be likeable, you got to have the box office, you got to have all this and skill is somewhere in there. Stage is all skill and I groove with that."

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