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This year, we’re celebrating an extended Black History Month by highlighting a variety of rising artists who are creating history before our very eyes. Viola Davis is a two-time Oscar nominee and Broadway veteran, but the actress may be more famous now, at the age of 50, than ever before, thanks to a dazzling performance as the lead in ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder.

For over two decades, Davis has been providing subtly unforgettable performances to a host of projects, from Doubt (where she outshone Meryl Streep) to The Help (where she provided the center of a sprawling production). Her role as Professor Annalise Keating on HTGAWM has quickly become her signature performance, however, and added a towering presence to primetime television.

Unfortunately, few African-American women are given the opportunity to headline a major-network drama; Davis has been handed one, and, predictably, she has established herself as an onscreen force of nature, and became the first African-American actress to win the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series trophy at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Hopefully her How To Get Away With Murder success will lead to even more great performances from the acting vet, as well as more Black auteurs given the chance to shine in primetime.