Before Viola Davis became an award-winning actress, she was a high school girl with big dreams growing up in Rhode Island, and she hasn’t forgotten those days.
Now, she’s making sure other kids see their dreams come true.
From her moving performance in The Help to her Emmy-winning role in How to Get Away with Murder, to her Oscar-winning performance in Fences, Viola Davis has climbed to the top of the list of Hollywood heavyweights.
But, before she ever walked the red carpet, she walked the halls of Rhode Island’s Central Falls High School.
Inside that high school today, her sister Dr. Deloris Grant teaches the students who hope to follow in Viola’s footsteps.
Dr. Grant, “My sister Viola has given so much of her time, money, any type of opportunity she’s been able to expose the children to, as well as parents, she’s gone out of her way above and beyond.”
Viola’s success and regular contributions to her hometown inspired the city to name this street right next to the high school after her three years ago.
It was during a fundraiser for Central Falls High School back in 2012 that Viola said giving back is her life’s purpose.
Superintendent Victor Capellan explains, “She came in and spoke to our Senior class and afterwards we had time for the students to connect and meet with her and every single one of those interactions was genuine they wanted to take pictures they wanted to talk to her, to interact wtih her and she did in such an original way, where every student and every person that had the opportunity to interact with her had that moment with Viola.”
Dr. Grant says Viola is constantly checking in on kids in the high school, especially those in the Thespian Society Doloris started, quietly paying for field trips to New York City and even giving her input on students’ work.
“I’ve had students ask me, ‘Mrs Grant, can you ask your sister what she thinks of my monologue?’ and we’ll tape it. I send it to my sister and she gives her feedback,” says Dr. Grant.
In a city where the poverty rate currently stands at over 30%, Dr. Grant takes pride in the fact that her sister Viola is giving students hope that they too, can make it big.