Academy Award nominated actress Viola Davis was among the eight remarkable artists and philanthropists who were handed their degrees in person on Friday morning, when The Juilliard School conferred honorary doctorates during its 109th Commencement Ceremony at the Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City.
Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi read special citations and presented degrees to all eight honorees who were garbed in Juilliard’s colorful academic robes and velvet caps to receive their ceremonial doctoral hoods onstage.
The awards began a ceremony in which Juilliard’s 289 (130 undergraduate and 159 graduate) actors, dancers, and musicians receive diplomas and learn who among them are receiving Juilliard’s graduation prizes – a closely held surprise and an additional highlight of each commencement.
Davis’ biography according to juilliard.edu reads:
“Viola Davis is a critically revered actress of film, television and theater, winning outstanding praise for her performances of intriguingly diverse roles. Audiences across the United States and internationally admire her work, including her celebrated, Oscar-nominated performances in The Help (2011) and Doubt (2008). In little more than 15 years as a professional actress, Ms. Davis has given her audiences a substantial list of performances: appearances in 23 films, more than 40 episodes of television dramas, and seven Broadway and off-Broadway productions, earning a cascade of awards and nominations.
“Ms. Davis began her acting career on the stage. Her 2001 portrayal of Tonya in King Hedley II brought her Tony and Drama Desk awards for the best featured actress in a play. She won her second Tony Award in 2010 for her portrayal as Rose Maxson in the Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences. Her television credits include episodes of more than two dozen shows from NYPD Blue to Providence, Law and Order, CSI, Jesse Stone, Without a Trace, and United States of Tara (2009), the last of which brought her a nomination for the NAACP’s Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She recently signed on to star in Shonda Rhimes’ How To Get Away with Murder series on ABC.
“Ms. Davis can next be seen in the upcoming James Brown biopic Get On Up alongside Chadwick Boseman and Octavia Spencer. Ms. Davis also stars in the upcoming release of Michael Mann’s as yet untitled cyber-thriller with Chris Hemsworth. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School (diploma, 1993) and holds an honorary doctorate of fine arts degree from her other alma mater, Rhode Island College.”