Let’s continue with my Rising sign guessing series for famous people. (Side note: I know, I know. I still need to finish my Jupiter in the houses series and I will. Don’t worry) There are many celebrities out there who have an unknown birth time and my curiosity just can’t help but wonder what their Ascendant is. Guessing Ascendants is becoming a bit of a hobby of mine and when I do it, I look at it in a holistic way: their appearance, their demeanor/behavior, how they describe themselves or see themselves, and also how that particular Rising sign would affect events in their life or other placements in their chart. In each article, I will make a guess for both a man and a woman; whoever I find interesting enough and know enough about to take a stab at.
Born on August 11, 1965 in Saint Matthews, South Carolina
Sun in Leo, Moon in Aquarius
Suspected Ascendant: Sagittarius
Estimated Birth Time: 2:10 PM
Viola Davis is one of my favorite actresses. She just recently won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (which was her third Oscar nomination) for her performance in Fences, which she also won the Tony Award for when she starred in the Broadway revival in 2010. Aside from famous roles in Doubt and The Help, audiences also know the powerhouse performer for her starring turn in the hit series How to Get Away with Murder as shady, complicated lawyer and professor Annalise Keating, for which she won the Emmy Award for in 2015.
Nobody knows Viola’s birth time, so I am interested in taking a crack at it. My gut is telling me that she is a Sagittarius Rising for various reasons. First off, her whole vibe and appearance does scream Sagittarian. She is a woman with a huge smile and an infectious enthusiasm. It goes beyond the warm, magnetic charisma of her Leo Sun. Those with the Ascendant in Sagittarius seem to fill a room whenever they are in it with their larger-than-life energy. Viola’s interviews are never boring and whether she is seriously discussing her character or having a silly chat on a talk show, there is something about her energy that is so “big”. It’s no wonder she’s such a dynamic theatre actress.
The best way to describe people with a Sagittarius Ascendant is that they look as if they can hardly suppress all of that energy of theirs. They always seem on the verge of a smile, a laugh, a hearty joke, or an awesome story. And when they release that energy, as they inevitably do, often times through their smile or their laugh, it makes a giant impression. Think of Michael Fassbender, a Sagittarius Rising who is well-known for his wide grin (which is regularly compared to a shark’s) or Mila Kunis, another person with this Rising sign who always comes off as irrepressible fun. The same goes for Viola. Her laugh is so full-bodied and her nature seems so candid and often times downright blunt but in that utterly endearing way that only Sagittarius can pull off.
Also, the story of one’s birth does speak volumes about the Rising sign. In an interview, Viola stated that her mother always told her that, when she was born, which happened in a one-room shack, “all the aunts and uncles, everybody was in the house, just drinking, laughing, and eating… She said, ‘And then when you was born everybody was yelling and cheering. Jumping up. I was eating a sardine-tomato-onion-mustard sandwich.” The scene that was set when Viola entered the world sounds very jubilant, overwhelming, and enthusiastic, a la Sagittarius, and also pretty cavalier and casual. This, then, influenced how she viewed and approached life from then on out. From the sound of the story, a birth time of about 2 PM sounds accurate because it seems like a sensible time that all of her relatives would be gathered together.
Speaking of family, the background that Viola comes from was not an easy one, to put it lightly. She has spoken numerous times of growing up in severe poverty. With this chart, she would have her Saturn in Pisces in the 4th and conjunct the Nadir (to the exact degree, if using this exact time). This seems so fitting because 4th House Saturn people usually come from tough upbringings. In some way or another, there is this fundamental feeling of lack in the home that the child grows up feeling like they have to compensate for. If the sense of lack does not come from losing a parent or them not being around (usually the dad), it comes from growing up poor. It definitely sounds like Viola falls into the latter category.
She has told the story, numerous times, of sleeping with scarves around her neck as a child so rats wouldn’t bite her in her sleep. Food was scarce to come by and the family regularly wondered how they were going to make ends meet. “When I say we had nothing, I mean zero,” she said. “I remember one time a friend came over to the house and she opened the refrigerator. There was nothing in it. She said, ‘Are you guys moving?’” Often times, they relied on help from their relatives or other families. All of this speaks to the combination of the Pisces Saturn in the 4th. Not only suffering through a difficult home atmosphere but feeling victimized because of it and having to rely on what might be deemed as the “charity” of other people.
Also, since Saturn represents the serious issues one has with their father and the lessons learned because of it, it’s no surprise that Davis’ father, with Saturn in Pisces, was an alcoholic and an often violent one at that. With Saturn being in the 4th, this regularly turned the household into a place of chaos or sadness. She claims she is at peace with the struggles of her upbringing, saying she never harbored ill will toward her now-late father, who changed his ways and repented, in a sense, in his last several years.
However, with a 4th House Saturn, you are also rooted in the difficult elements of your personal history. You always feel deeply connected to the unhappy or put-upon child you once were and it gives you a strength and self-sufficiency that sustain you. In Viola’s case, with Saturn in Pisces, her painful personal background makes her the artist she is, allowing her to easily access that loneliness or anguish and have great empathy for the characters she plays. Her husband, fellow actor Julius Tennon, once perceptively said of her, “She is never far away from that little girl she talks about. She has never forgotten her.”
And it’s interesting because Saturn directly opposes her Virgo planets: Venus, Uranus, and Pluto all conjunct in Virgo. With this chart, she has this stellium in her 10th and conjunct a Virgo Midheaven. Again, this seems very fitting for her. Venus conjunct Uranus and Pluto in Virgo in the 10th, and on top of the Midheaven, shows that Viola is meant to become a public figure who acts as a critical, intelligent voice for change and progress. The opposition from Saturn in the 4th in Pisces means that she is very rooted in her strength and the compassion that stems from that strength. Her background of being poor, being an observer of abuse and pain, of being badly bullied for being black and dark-skinned gives her the rock solid foundation of empathy needed to go out into the world and call people to task for inequality and injustice.
Viola is famously outspoken about representation of people of color in Hollywood and the lack of opportunities for actors of color, especially dark-skinned African-American women. She has repeatedly said that getting the part on How to Get Away with Murder, complete with more than a few racy love scenes, was so refreshing to her because she was tired of playing maids or drug addicts or the best friend. “I don’t see anyone on TV like me in a role like this. And you can’t even mention Halle Berry or Kerry Washington,” she proclaimed, referencing their light skin tone. And also that “it’s time for people to see us, people of color, for what we really are: complicated.”
Her Emmy speech in 2015, which made her the first black actress to win Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series, included a quote from Harriet Tubman (“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how”) and the caveat that “the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.” But, Viola has succeeded in breaking down many barriers. She is the most Oscar-nominated black actress to date and is also the first black actress to win the “triple crown” of acting: the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony, for film, television, and theatre, respectively. Both Uranus and Pluto succeed at breaking down barriers, in their own way. Uranus does it by going against the grain and Pluto does it by being empowered. With the combination on her Virgo Midheaven, though, Viola is a very grounded, humble revolutionary.
All of these planets conjunct her Midheaven do speak to the power of her public image. Uranus on the Midheaven makes her something of an anomaly, defying expectations and carving out her own unique professional path. She is unafraid to refuse to conform when it comes to Hollywood standards for actresses, particularly physical ones. A famous scene in an episode of How to Get Away with Murder shows her removing her make-up and wig, looking startlingly unglamorous and it was all her idea. Pluto on the Midheaven gives her acting such power and intensity. Viola has a way of profoundly moving people even when she’s not acting. She can express such deep passion for her craft and her characters in interviews, as well as profound insights into life and human nature. And her award speeches are so evocative that they can virtually move you to tears.
Also, although she claims that Annalise is the first “sexualized” character she has played, Venus being on the Midheaven means that the world does have a great appreciation for her beauty and sensuality. Sometimes, I can gauge people’s view of a celebrity’s Midheaven just by looking at YouTube comments. Many people talk about how beautiful Viola is, about how perfect her complexion is, etc. As a Venus in Virgo individual, she has a tendency to underestimate her appeal and attractiveness, when, in actuality, most people think she’s pretty much flawless. The Virgo Midheaven also reveals itself through her most famous roles, whether it’s of the maid Aibeleen in The Help, the highly efficient and intelligent lawyer Annalise, or in her breakthrough part in Doubt; a seemingly thankless, 10-minute part alongside Meryl Streep. But, for the Virgo Midheaven, work is work and there are no small parts. Her humility and dedication shone through.
Other things also convince me of this chart for her, such as her close friendship with Meryl, whose Gemini Mercury and Mars would fall into her 7th House (the house of romantic partners and close friends), the fact that she would have an Aquarius Moon in the 3rd House and that she seems to have had a very buddy-like relationship with her siblings, as well as felt like a total outcast in grade school, and her having a Gemini North Node in the 7th, which seems to be explained by how deeply fulfilled she felt after meeting her husband, ending many years of being unhappily single, and how he does seem to very much be her “other half” and partner in crime.