The Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom actor calls her late co-star ‘transcendent’ and talks about how she'll remember his legacy

By Salina Tsegai
April 09, 2021 12:00 PM
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Viola Davis is praising her late costar Chadwick Boseman for his integrity and authenticity.

The 55-year-old Oscar winner sits down to discuss her role as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and also talks about the Black Panther star's legacy in an OWN Spotlight special with host Oprah Winfrey.

"What I'll remember about his legacy is his integrity," Davis tells Winfrey in a PEOPLE exclusive clip from the conversation.

She continues, "There's not a lot of integrity out there. I think it takes a lot of courage to be authentic."

Ma Rainey was Boseman's final film before his death last August, and Davis believes that throughout his impressive career, the actor wasn't concerned with the fame he acquired.

VIOLA DAVIS and Oprah
Credit: OWN

"I just felt that he was not interested in being a movie star as much as he was concerned with being a really great artist," Davis admits. 

The Ma Rainey stars both made history at the 2021 Screen Actors Guild Awards, with the awards for lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor and supporting actress going to nonwhite nominees. Davis became the first black woman to win best female actor in a leading role twice, and Boseman was honored with a posthumous win for best male actor in a leading role. 

Boseman's wife Taylor Simone Ledward accepted the award on his behalf.

"If you see the world unbalanced, be a crusader that pushes heavily on the seesaw of the mind," Ledward said. "That's a quote by Chadwick Boseman."

Boseman and Davis both scored nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress. This is Boseman's first Oscar nomination.

OWN Spotlight: Viola Davis airs next Friday, April 16 at 10 pm ET/PT on OWN.