With a fresh Oscar in hand, a hit television show and no signs of slowing down anytime soon, Viola Davis has a lot going for her career at the moment. But there was a time in her life when her current level of success was another universe of possibility, considering she experienced extreme poverty as a child.
“You just listed my number one fear, which is entitlement,” Davis, 51, says in this week’s PEOPLE cover story of keeping her 6-year-old grounded. “I never had a house; Genesis has a house. I do shop at Target, I buy all her clothes at Target or H&M. And maybe, if I’m feeling really good, Nordstrom Rack.”
Davis — who nabbed her brand-new Academy Award for her role in the Denzel Washington-led drama Fences — says one key is that she and husband Julius Tennon, a fellow actor whom she has been married to since 2003, hold their daughter “accountable for everything,” even at her young age.
“Julius is really tough. He has two beautiful children and seven grandkids,” says the How to Get Away with Murder star. “I came into a relationship where he already had children and grandchildren and raised his kids on his own, so he’s tough — he toes the line, but in a very loving way.”
Continues Davis, “He holds her accountable. Me, not so much — I’m the softie. Really, entitlement. Listen, there are poor kids who are entitled. So I pray.”
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Jen Juneau and Julie Jordan