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Viola Davis is named 2021 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year

In this screengrab, Viola Davis, winner of Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture categories, speaks at the 52nd NAACP Image Awards Virtual Press Conference on March 27, 2021.
In this screengrab, Viola Davis, winner of Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture categories, speaks at the 52nd NAACP Image Awards Virtual Press Conference on March 27, 2021.Getty Images/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards

Three days before Viola Davis vies for her second Oscar, she’ll receive another prestigious honor.

Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals on Friday named Davis its 2021 Woman of the Year, honoring the actress for her “lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment.”

The award has been handed out annually by the long-running theatrical student society since 1951, with recent winners including Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks, Octavia Spencer, Kerry Washington, and Burlington native Amy Poehler.

Though the Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ Man of the Year and Woman of the Year awards are traditionally marked by a raucous parade through Harvard Square, the pandemic has made that an impossibility this year. Instead, Davis will be honored in an online ceremony on Thursday, April 22, which will still feature the society’s traditional roast and a speech from Davis after she is presented with the ceremonial pudding pot.

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Just three days later, on April 25, Davis will be up for an Best Actress Oscar for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

“Viola has inspired our company with her incredible grit and determination, and we cannot wait to celebrate her successes, strong character and wonderful talent,” said Hasty Pudding Theatricals president Jessica Moore in a statement.

Davis, who grew up in Central Falls, Rhode Island, and credits her time at Central Falls High School for her love of the performing arts, reacted to the news on social media.

“Sooooo excited!!!!” Davis wrote on Twitter. “Thank you Hasty Pudding!!! Uhh..... Looking forward to the roast.”

In March, Davis became the most nominated Black female actor in Academy Awards history when she landed a Best Actress nod for her performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” her fourth acting nomination. The film also starred Chadwick Boseman in his final on-screen role before his death from colon cancer in August 2020.

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Davis previously won the 2016 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Fences,” a film based on the August Wilson play of the same name. She also received a Best Actress nomination for 2011′s “The Help” and a Supporting Actress nod for 2008′s “Doubt.”