What Makes A Great TV Showrunner, According To Viola Davis

Viola Davis is unquestionably one of the finest performers working today. She's dazzled on Broadway, delivered Emmy and Academy Award-winning performances in TV and film, and consistently turns any role into a certifiable acting masterclass. Earlier this year, her memoir "Finding Me" hit the top spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, and her leading performance in "The Woman King" is continuing to rake in positive reviews. 

Witnessing Viola Davis in action is legitimately experiencing a living legend in real-time, and there's seemingly nothing she can't do. Whether it's a DC superhero movie or a historical epic, casting Viola Davis is always the right choice. Despite her countless accolades, Davis also has a reputation for being an extremely down-to-earth and relatable interview, something rare to find in celebrities at her level.

Davis recently appeared on an episode of the hit series "Hot Ones," where host Sean Evans interviews celebrities while they eat hot wings that get progressively spicier and spicier. The idea is that when battling the effects of increasing Scoville heat units, it gets a lot harder for an interviewee to be "on their game" and therefore provide more honest answers. After sauce number four (Hot Ones – Los Calientes Barbacoa Hot Sauce), Davis was asked what the difference is between a great TV showrunner and a great film director. Despite the 33,000 Scoville sauce running wild, her answer was as profound as expected. Truly starting to think that Davis might actually be superhuman after this.

Connecting to the truth and life

Without missing a beat, Davis tells Evans that in her opinion, a great showrunner is someone who can lead the writers to a consistent place but one that is always improving. "That's really hard when you're doing a show of 22-26 episodes," she said. "All of them have to be connected to the truth and life ...that's what makes a good showrunner, that's what makes a great film director, that's what makes a great teacher – life." 

As the only Black actor to ever achieve the Triple Crown of Acting, if anyone knows what it takes to be great, it's Viola Davis. "The more people recognize life on TV, the stage, and all the collaborators that are involved in doing that, then you feel less alone as an audience member and you do not forget the experience," she continued. "It's tattooed in you, right?"

That connectivity Davis is talking about is so vital for audiences to connect with the material they're watching, and can often be the make-or-break distinction between a good show and a great one. Of course, because Davis is also a woman with priorities, she ended her powerful statement with a request to eat her wing. "Now let me suck on this damn bone!" she joked. Never change, Viola. You're perfect.