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Viola Davis is a national treasure. And even before her Oscar win Sunday, Harvard University had named Davis its Artist of the Year. On March 4, Davis will accept the Harvard Foundation’s arts medal during the 32nd annual Cultural Rhythms Festival in Memorial Hall’s Sanders Theatre.

“The students and faculty of the Harvard Foundation are delighted to present the acclaimed television and film artist Viola Davis with the 2017 Artist of the Year award,” said S. Allen Counter, director of the Harvard Foundation. “Our student committee praised her outstanding contributions to American and international film and theater. She recently received the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and British Academy of Films and Television Arts awards, as well as an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Rose Maxson in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s play Fences.”

Davis, who never shies away from talking about having lived in poverty in Rhode Island, is still active in her community when it comes to her philanthropic efforts. The Juilliard School graduate’s Oscar speech Sunday was one of the best of the night and deserves an award.

“You know, there is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard,” Davis said Sunday. “People ask me all the time—‘What kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola?’ And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories—the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost.”


To just have an ounce of Davis’ grace.