'How to Get Away With Murder's' Viola Davis: Why I'm Happy to No Longer Play "Sassy"
The actress is featured in THR's Rule Breakers 2014 issue alongside 'Black-ish' star Anthony Anderson and ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, whose network was the only one to launch a hit drama and hit comedy this season (both of which happen to star black leads)
This story first appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The only network to launch a hit drama (How to Get Away With Murder) and a hit comedy (Black-ish) this season, ABC as led by Paul Lee has accomplished that feat while simultaneously defying DVR trends -- drawing live viewers to scripted programming -- and furthering its already formidable push into diversity with leads Viola Davis and Anthony Anderson on Murder and Black-ish, respectively.
Read more ABC's 'How to Get Away With Murder,' 'Black-ish' Get Full-Season Orders
"We were on a mission to reflect the faces and voices of America," says Lee, whose executive staff is equally heterogeneous. "It so happened this year that every one of the shows that worked was specific, diverse and relatable to all of us."
Not just the highest-rated new series of the season, Murder now ranks as the No. 3 series on all of broadcast and is pulling in 16 million viewers every week. Says Oscar-nominated Davis, whose role as stony Annalise Keating already has garnered her SAG and Golden Globe noms: "I've always been very maternal in my roles, very sassy or no-nonsense. This was a chance for me to break out of all of that."
Black-ish has proved to be broadcast's lone comedy breakout and ABC's first solid partner to Modern Family, boasting an average 3.8 rating in adults 18-to-49. "This is a reflection of [creator] Kenya Barris' family and my family," says Anderson. "The biggest compliment our show has received so far is from the non-African-American community, when people come up to me and say, 'When I see your show, I see my family.' "
Read below for the full Rule Breakers 2014 list: