Academy Award winner Viola Davis has been happily married to Julius Tennon for 18 years. Here’s everything to know about the actress’ husband.
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s marriage has a spiritual backstory — one that could, quite frankly, be the plot of a romance film. The Academy Award winner, 55, has been married to her fellow actor husband, 67, for 18 years now. The couple adopted their daughter Genesis, 11, back in 2011, completing their family of three. Viola and Julius have since become one of the most formidable A-list couples in Hollywood, supporting each other both on and off the red carpets.
Julius’ entry into Viola’s life occurred by cosmic fate. As the story goes, the actress found her life partner by way of prayer. “I was the loneliest woman in the world and someone said, ‘You should just pray for a husband,’” she told Page Six in 2013. “I said I wanted a big Black man from the South who looked like a football player, who already had children, who maybe had been married before.” Three and a half weeks later, Viola said, “I met my husband.”
Enter: Julius, a man who quite literally checked all of the boxes. Former college football player. Texas native. Previously married. Adult children. Below is everything you should know about the answer to Viola’s prayers.
Viola Davis And Julius Tennon
Viola wed Julius in June 2003. The two share daughter Genesis together. Oprah Daily reported that Julius had been previously married before, sharing two children Sheavonda, 44, and Duriel, 41, with his former partner. Julius is an actor and producer, appearing in films like Dazed and Confused and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He has a noteworthy TV career, too, appearing in Friday Night Lights, Moesha, Criminal Minds, and even his wife’s How to Get Away With Murder. His pre-Hollywood life is just as impressive: during his college years at the University of Tulsa, Julius became the first African American to graduate from the university’s theater department.
How Did Viola And Julius Meet?
No surprise here, but Viola and Julius met in Hollywood, on the set of the CBS series City of Angels in 1999. The actress told InStyle last November that she was immediately attracted to Julius. “I was like, ‘He’s sooo cute.’” During a joint interview on the OWN series Black Love in 2017, Julius recalled the day he asked Viola out. “I just overheard her talking to a girl in front of her saying, ‘I don’t like L.A. I don’t know anybody.’ She was kinda complaining,” he said. “I was dating a girl, who was a little bit of a monster, and I was kinda like, ‘She seems like a nice lady. She doesn’t know anybody. I’m kinda ready to meet somebody else.’ So at the end of the day, I gave her my card.”
Viola later added, “After my first date with Julius, my life got better. Anxiety went away, fear went away. He just made my life better.”
Viola Davis’ Past Relationships
Given that she and her husband have been married for decades, not much is known about the Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star’s previous relationships. In her interview with InStyle, however, Viola joked about trying to pick up men at the bookstore pre-Julius. “The moment I met my husband, my life got better,” she said. “Before I met him, I was trying to date, but I didn’t know what I was doing. People told me to go to Barnes & Noble at Columbus Circle [in New York] because they said that was the way to pick up dudes.” She added, “I put on some makeup, but it didn’t work for me. Finally, I remember someone said, ‘Just find someone who loves you, Viola.’ And I met my husband. I found someone who loves me. That’s it.”
Viola Davis’ Top Moments With Her Husband
On Valentine’s Day weekend in 2016, Viola and Julius renewed their wedding vows in an elegant ceremony in front of loved ones. The actress’ How To Get Away With Murder costars Matt McGorry, Jack Falahee, and Karla Souza were also in attendance. Viola shared her speech in a Facebook video, in which she declared, “I really feel alive. This really makes a life. If I had to look back on my life, this is the moment that would play out and I would think, ‘Well done.’”
Last month, the happy couple celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary. “Happy 18th Anniversary to the love of my life!!” Viola captioned her Instagram tribute on June 23. “Love you Julius.” And the year before, Viola shared a rare glimpse into their wedding day for their 17th wedding anniversary (above) with snapshots from the big day and the vow renewal. “You have made my life sweeter and my heart bigger,” the actress captioned the post. “I prayed for you and God said, Yes! I have just the right person for you!!!!’ Happy Anniversary my love… The best is yet to be.”
With 18 years now under their belt, one could presume that there are only 18 more ahead for Viola and Julius. In an interview with Glamour in 2015, Viola reflected on marriage with a quote from mythologist Joseph Campbell. “It’s Joseph Campbell who said [something like], ‘When you get married, you die to yourself.’ I know that’s probably taboo in 2015, but truly, you die to yourself,” Viola mused. “Everything is for the good of the whole. My marriage enriches my life. It’s more important than my career, more important than anything. I have to prioritize it.”
As for what the next chapter of her marriage and life with Julius will be, the actress will pen a memoir, Finding Me, due out in April 2022, that will likely offer more insights on that. It will chronicle her life and illustrious career, from navigating poverty as a child in her home state of Rhode Island to becoming an award-winning actress. “I believe that our stories, and the courage to share them, is the most powerful empathetic tool we have,” Viola said in a statement. “This is my story… straight no chaser.”