10 of Viola Davis’ Best Beauty Moments

Alle Connell

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Tonight is one of the most important nights on the TV calendar: the night that How to Get Away With Murder returns to our screens. If you haven’t been watching this show, you owe it to yourself to catch up—it’s the most wonderfully soapy, crazy, exciting show on television, and Annalise Keating is one of the most interesting female protagonists in a primetime drama in recent memory.

Which brings us to the genuinely incredible Viola Davis, the first black woman to win the Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy on Sunday night. She is the kind of actress that you can’t help but watch—hypnotic, commanding, vulnerable. She takes this show and nails it to the wall. She is genuinely amazing, and deserves every inch of that Emmy.

And although people were losing their minds over her stellar Emmys look, this is hardly the first time Viola served some serious realness on the red carpet: she’s been killing it for years now. While we eagerly wait for HTGAWM to premiere tonight (just seven more hours!), let’s look back at ten of Viola’s most incredible beauty moments.


viola davis sag awards 2009

At the SAG Awards, 2009. Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Defined brows, gold eyeshadow that provides just the right amount of coordination with her canary yellow gown and Supremes-inspired asymmetrical hair—Viola came out strong out of the gate at the SAGs.

viola davis short hair 2009

At the premiere of “Law Abiding Citizen,” 2009. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Overture.

This is a makeup master class in one image: Viola’s plum eyeshadow and berry blush coordinate beautifully, color-wise. Her skin, eye makeup and blush is all matte, while her neutral lipstick is shimmery. And, of course, the side-swept hair adds exactly the right amount of drama to this look.

viola davis bangs 2010

At the Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration, 2010. Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.

Red lipstick, perfectly angled bangs, major smokey eyes. Mix with perfect skin and you have a glamorous look for the ages.

viola davis sag awards 2012

At the 2012 SAG Awards. Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage.

Viola embraced a 30s-inspired hairstyle for the SAGs, complimenting it with lightened brows, metallic makeup and a healthy dose of body glitter. We’re especially into the VERY subtle brightening and contouring happening under her eyes and around her cheekbones—proof that you don’t have to go full Kardashian to define your facial features.

viola davis oscars 2012

At the 2012 Oscars. Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic.

It’s sad but true: we really don’t see as much natural hair on the red carpet as we should. Viola makes a persuasive case for why these old, racist beauty “rules” about what is event event-appropriate are rubbish. She also serves a gorgeous emerald green smokey eye that remains one of our most iconic Oscar beauty moments of all time.

viola davis oscars 2014

At the 2014 Oscars. Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage.

It can be difficult to wear a retro style like fingerwaves on a red carpet without looking like you’ve arrived in costume—Viola nails it by keeping her makeup totally modern, with glossy lips and nude blush.

viola davis red lipstick 2014

At the TCA Press Tour, 2014. Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage.

There’s a school of thought out there that says that women with dark skin tones shouldn’t wear warm-toned red lipstick. Davis shows those fools exactly how wrong they are with this stunning matte look. Annaliese Keating offers up the following rejoinder:

how to get away with murder gif

GIF via ABC.

Deal with it, haters.

viola davis golden globes 2015

At the 2015 Golden Globes. Photo by Jeff Vespa/WireImage.

Dewy skin, satin-red lipstick = perfection. Note the way Our Queen has contrasted cool pink eyeshadow with the crimson on her lips. That is a high degree of difficulty, especially when you’re wearing a red bedazzled gown, but she is pulling it off.

viola davis oscars 2015

At the 2015 Oscars. Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

This is A Lot of Look, and Viola is pulling it off perfectly. Her skin is so perfect and luminous you could see her from space. Her lips, the perfect vampy shade of glossy oxblood red. Her hair is phenomenal—curls defined and glossed and shiny. And those lashes! Go big or go home, this entire look says.

viola davis emmys 2015

After winning the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress, 2015. Photo: Kevork Djansezian.

The first black woman to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Viola’s acceptance speech was moving and passionate—so much so that it feels weird to talk about how she looks, when what she said is clearly so much more important. But: the orange-red lipstick with a black and white gown, amazing hair and black nails? Incredible. Nailed it on every level.

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