TIME Profile: Why Viola Davis Deserves Leading-Lady Status

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Is Oscar-nominated thespian Viola Davis a “leading actress stuck in supporting roles”? According to Joel Stein (and Meryl Streep), yes, she is.

In this week’s issue of TIME, Joel Stein profiles Davis (available here for subscribers) who appears in this month’s The Help (“her biggest role to date”). If you aren’t familiar with Davis, don’t worry, you’re (not necessarily) out of the loop. It could just be because she’s only played supporting roles (or bit parts), despite being an extremely skilled actress.

Will that change after her big-but-not-leading role in next year’s Steel Town? Stein’s profile can’t answer that, but here are a few things his profile does answer:

-Is Davis a hard worker? In a word, yes. She’s “anal” about preparing for film roles: her notes on her part in Doubt (onscreen for a whooping 11 minutes) ran over “100 typed pages.”

-Is Davis talented? She studied at Julliard, has earned glowing praise from some of the best actors in Hollywood (Streep and George Clooney), and scored an Oscar nod for that 11-minute scene in Doubt. We’d say she’s talented.

-Is Davis nice? Well, she was nice to Stein, “making sure [he] got something to eat” at a party in her honor. But being nice to TIME equals really nice in our books.

To read the full profile, go here.

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