I GREW UP POOR One of six kids, Viola Davis, 55, was raised in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where her dad worked as a horse groomer and her mom was a maid and factory worker. Although times were tough, “it was [my] hope and dreams that made me put my feet on the floor every morning and just approach every day with a sense of enthusiasm,” she told People in 2019. “It was my fight or flight that kicked in.”

CICELY TYSON INSPIRED ME “When I was a kid, I saw The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and Ms. Tyson looked like me,” recalls Viola, who in 2015 became the first Black woman ever to win an Emmy for lead actress in a drama for ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, to AARP. “I saw a physical manifestation of a dream.”

Viola Davis and Daughter

MY FAITH GIVES ME STRENGTH “I am a God believer,” she continued. “I believe that sometimes you have to give it over to a higher entity, because sometimes I don’t have the answers and I’m never going to have them. It does come from my prayers, but it also comes from the fact that in order to stay on my feet and to keep breathing, I have to have hope.”

THE JACUZZI IS MY HAPPY PLACE It’s where she enjoys “together time” with her husband of 17 years, actor Julius Tennon, 67. “We get in the tub together and we soak and we talk,” she told Tulsa World. “We just chat, chat, chat. Every single day we do that.”

MY FAVORITE ROLE IS MOM Adopting her daughter Genesis, 10, “has given me a whole new purpose,” Viola told People. “I feel like a star at home only because she loves me so much. It’s a red carpet every day. It’s wonderful!”

For this story and more, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.