All About Viola Davis' Daughter Genesis Tennon

Viola Davis and Julius Tennon welcomed their daughter Genesis in 2011

Julius Tennon, Genesis Tennon and Viola Davis attend the Public Counsel's Annual William O. Douglas Award Dinner Celebrating Viola Davis at The Beverly Hilton on December 11, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California
Photo: Robin L Marshall/Getty

Actress Viola Davis is a proud mom to her daughter Genesis Tennon, whom she shares with her husband Julius Tennon.

Despite starring in many award-winning films and TV shows and living an "extraordinary life," the EGOT winner knew something was missing.

"It was great, but it was not fulfilling," Davis told PEOPLE in 2017 of stardom before welcoming her daughter, now 12. "I wanted my life to mean and be something deeper. That's when the urge came, and the urge was just very, very, very, strong. So I have a kid now, and she is just the light of our lives."

Being a parent gave Davis "a whole new purpose," but she still isn't the standard PTA mom. "I don't make the brownies," she said in 2017. "I'm not the brownie-making mother." What she does provide, however, is lots of love, support and encouragement for Genesis to be her truest self."

"I encourage her to use any source of expression, whether it's TikTok, painting, taking pictures," she told PEOPLE in 2020. "I said, 'Anything about yourself, even the things that you don't think people will love about you, all of it makes up your beauty.' I don't want her to grow up with any shame."

Still, she knows her daughter will make mistakes, and that's okay. "[Sometimes] mommy is not going to have the answers," she said. "And sometimes you're not either. I'm not the mom who's just going to tell her a bunch of lies about life, because I want her to be the best woman in the room."

So, who is Genesis Tennon? Get to know Viola Davis and Julius Tennon's daughter.

She was born on July 10, 2010

Viola Davis and daughter Genesis Tennon arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of 'HOME' at Regency Village Theatre on March 22, 2015 in Westwood, California

Genesis was born on July 10, 2010, and was welcomed via adoption by Davis and Julius in October 2011. Davis confirmed she was "about to adopt a baby" on the red carpet of the premiere of her movie The Help that year.

During an ELLE Women in Hollywood event in October of that year, Davis' friend and costar Octavia Spencer spilled the beans about their new arrival, saying her pal became a mom "like, two days ago." Davis confirmed the news soon after, adding that they brought home a baby girl named Genesis a few days earlier.

She is an aspiring actress who has already starred in a blockbuster movie

Julius Tennon, Genesis Tennon and Viola Davis arrive for "The Angry Birds Movie 2" World Premiere at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, California, on August 10, 2019

In December 2020, Davis shared her daughter's dreams of being a movie star like her. "She does want to be an actress," she told Ellen DeGeneres. "She says, 'Mommy, I know how to live the words. I know how to breathe the words. I know how to remember the words.' And I said, 'Well, you gotta remember how to go to school and at 18, you need to remember how to get out of the house and pay your own bills.'"

Genesis is already making that happen. She made her big screen debut in The Angry Birds Movie 2 in 2019, voicing hatchling Vivi. Gal Gadot's daughter Alma Versano and Nicole Kidman's daughters, Sunday Rose and Faith, played similar roles.

"Well, I would randomly be like, 'Oh, I have to go to this event with my mom,' and then I would pause and be like, 'Hold up, wait a second, it's about me!' " Genesis told Variety about her first red carpet. "And I got excited!" Of course, her mom and dad were right there beside her for the big event.

Genesis also tried her hand at modeling when she and her mom shared a W Magazine photo essay spread in 2021.

She loves supporting her mom's biggest moments

Viola Davis and Genesis Tennon attend a ceremony honoring actress Viola Davis with star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 5, 2017 in Hollywood, California
Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

Genesis is always there to support her mom when she needs it — whether that's on a red carpet or just at home. "I feel like a star at home only because she loves me so much," Davis told PEOPLE. "I mean, it's a red carpet every day. It's wonderful!"

Genesis was in attendance at the Public Counsel's Annual William O. Douglas Award Dinner, where her mom was honored in 2022. She also looked stunning beside her mom at the TIFF premiere of her movie The Woman King in 2022 and stood next to Davis when she got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017.

Davis' scariest mom moment was locking Genesis in the car at Target

Genesis Tennon, Viola Davis, and Julius Tennon attend "The Woman King" Premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 09, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

In conversation with Jennifer Lawrence for Variety's Actors on Actors issue in 2022, the Fences actress shared her scariest parenting moment: when she accidentally locked her daughter in the car when she was little.

"Jennifer, I locked my kid in the car, and it was sweltering hot outside," she said. "I had 50 million things on my plate. My daughter was in the back. I walk out of the car, shut the door, and realize I don't have my keys." Davis said she "threw herself on the concrete" and screamed for help. "You would think I was in a Greek tragedy. 'My baby! Jesus!'"

After calling on the help of strangers (and dialing 911), she got Genesis out with no incident. While it was a tough experience, she's learned that parents need to cut themselves some slack.

"We all at some point lock our kid in a car by accident or lose our kid in the mall for 30 seconds or more," she told PEOPLE in 2020. "When you have a child, you want to be a perfect mother. You feel like you have the absolute plan to be a perfect mother — and then you make a mistake, and we all make mistakes … It's a part of life, and it's a part of what makes us who we are."

Genesis once dressed as her mom for Halloween

Viola Davis' daughter Genesis
Viola Davis Facebook

Genesis is her mom's biggest fan, and she proved it in 2015 when she dressed up as Davis holding an Emmy for Halloween.

"So … the Elsa costume? Didn't work for her," Davis wrote on Facebook, alongside the adorable photo. "The Pirate? A no go. So she finally said, 'I just want to be YOU mommy'! So … uhh … this is ME."

Genesis has always shown her mom lots of love, including earlier that same year when she "hacked" her Instagram and posted a video saying, "I love you mommy. And I hope you win another Emmy. And you're my favorite girl. And I love you."

She's a massive Beyoncé fan

Viola Davis, Genesis
Genesis. Shamar Benoit

The only person who might be able to compete with Davis and Julius for Genesis' admiration is her idol Beyoncé.

"Her latest thing is Beyoncé," Davis told DeGeneres in 2020. The duo was at odds when Davis tried to tell her daughter she couldn't go to one of the singer's concerts. "'No, you don't know what Lemonade means to me, Mom,' " Genesis told Davis. "'You don't know what Beyoncé means to my life.' There you go."

Queen Bey sent her biggest fan some love a few months later, in February 2021, by sending her and her mom an outfit from her Ivy Park brand. The duo stunned in photos of the looks posted on Instagram. "Thank you @Beyonce!!" Davis wrote. "Genesis and I love @WeAreIvyPark's new #IcyPark collection!!!"

Davis is raising her to be grounded

Viola Davis and daughter Genesis Tennon attend the premiere of Amazon Studios' "Troop Zero" at Pacific Theatres at The Grove on January 13, 2020 in Los Angeles, California
Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Davis says her "number one fear" is her daughter growing up to be entitled. "I never had a house; Genesis has a house," she told PEOPLE in 2017. "She doesn't want her daughter taking things for granted, and they still have a relatively normal life in some ways. "I do shop at Target, I buy all her clothes at Target or H&M. And maybe, if I'm feeling really good, Nordstrom Rack."

Still, Davis admits she's a "softie," and her husband is usually the "tough" parent. "He has two beautiful children and seven grandkids," she said. "I came into a relationship where he already had children and grandchildren and raised his kids on his own, so he's tough — he toes the line, but in a very loving way … He holds [Genesis] accountable. Me, not so much."

She inspires Davis to stay healthy

Viola Davis and Genesis Tennon attend the HempHera Kosmetikos Pre-Emmy Luxury Lounge Presented By GBK Brand Bar - Day 2 at Kimpton La Peer Hotel on September 18, 2021 in West Hollywood, California
Tiffany Rose/Getty

Davis received a prediabetes diagnosis in August 2016, and her daughter has been a huge motivator for her to focus on her health.

"It hit home for me," Davis told PEOPLE in 2019. "It's something that's an ongoing conversation in my life. My two sisters have Type 2 Diabetes, my great aunt had Type 2 Diabetes. [She] lost both of her legs and was in a wheelchair for decades, up until she finally succumbed to the disease. As did my grandmother on my father's side."

She does everything she can to keep herself in good health. "I consider myself to be a healthy eater, I exercise, I do it all," she said. "I want to be around for my daughter. I want to stay healthy for as long as I can for her."

Related Articles