A Timeline of Viola Davis and Julius Tennon's Decades-Long Romance
Viola Davis and Julius Tennon have a pretty swoon-worthy love story. The accomplished actors first met in 1999 on set of their show "City of Angels," and sparks flew immediately. They later got married in June 2003, and it may have been fate that the pair got together. In 2022, on "Oprah + Viola: A Netflix Special Event," Davis opened up about how she specifically prayed to find a partner like Tennon.
After taking advice from one of her friends who instructed her to pray for the kind of man she wanted, Davis revealed that she listed off her ideal qualities, which started with asking for "a big Black man from the South." "He said, 'Viola, even the vacuous stuff, just put it all in there. Looks, everything,'" the EGOT winner recalled her friend saying. "I said, 'Really? With God? I gotta tell him that?' He's like, 'Yes, you gotta put it all out there.'" She added, "I went and I got on my knees."
Davis said her prayer also included asking for someone "who's probably been married before," "has kids, because I don't want any pressure in that department," "someone whose maybe been an actor who understands the artistic community," and "someone who goes to church and loves God." "I said, 'If you give me that, I'll start going to church, God. I really will. I'm committed to it.' And then I signed off, just like writing a letter," she told Winfrey.
Throughout their 20-plus-year romance, Davis and Tennon have been incredibly supportive of one another, both onscreen and off. The two, who have starred together in films like 2015's "Lila & Eve" and 2023's "Air," have stood side-by-side at numerous Hollywood events, including award shows, movie premieres, and galas.
The high-profile couple are also business partners as they cofounded their own production company in 2011 called JuVee Productions — which coproduced Davis's "The First Lady" and "The Woman King." And in addition to being talented stars, they're proud parents to their 12-year-old daughter Genesis.
Over the years, Davis and Tennon have managed to keep the spark in their marriage, which the former dished about when she spoke to People in 2016. "It's about the everyday," said Davis. "I think that, that's what people forget when they fall in love with someone and it's exciting. You have to get back to the everyday — the taking the garbage out, the cooking, the cleaning — and it's something that I think really works with me and my husband."
Read ahead to learn more about Davis and Tennon's long-standing relationship.
1999: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon Meet on Set of "City of Angels"
Davis and Tennon's romance began when they first connected on the set of CBS's "City of Angels" series in 1999. According to Davis, she met her now-husband while she was snacking on a bagel. "He was like, 'Hey,' because we had just did a scene," she recalled during an appearance on "The Jess Cagle Interview" show in 2016 (via People). "The only thing I thought was, 'He's good-looking. He's really good-looking.'"
The EGOT winner, who was new to Los Angeles at the time, also shared that she was initially hesitant to accept Tennon's offer to go out on a date to the Santa Monica Pier. "I didn't call him for six weeks," she said. "I had bad credit at the time. I had anxiety attacks from driving. I had to work out some personal issues first."
Tennon later told his side of the couple's meet-cute story during a joint appearance with his wife on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in March 2023. "I noticed her and I said, 'Hey, how ya doin,'" he recalled. "Then, later on, we went to the set. I passed blood to her, and I [thought], 'This seems like a pretty nice lady. At the end of the day, I'm going to give her my card.'"
He continued to Davis, "That's what I did. I gave you my card only because my mom told me, 'If you want to meet a girl, don't ask for her phone number, give her your card. If she's interested, she'll call you.' She promptly called me a month later."
June 2003: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon Get Married
After four years of dating, the two got married on June 23, 2003. Following the couple's vow renewal in February 2016, Davis reminisced about their small wedding during her 2016 appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" "The first time we got married with 15 people in our condo. It wasn't big enough," she said, per E! News. "So, three months later we went to Rhode Island with about 100 people." Davis added that the second wedding happened because "I wanted to have another ceremony that was pretty where I got to wear the fabulous dress with the fabulous food."
October 2011: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon Welcome Their Daughter Genesis
After announcing their plans to adopt a child in August 2011, the couple welcomed their one and only daughter, Genesis, that October. At the time, reps for Davis confirmed to People that she and Tennon had a baby girl, whom they "brought home a few days ago."
February 2016: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon Renew Their Wedding Vows
In honor of Valentine's Day in 2016, Davis and Tennon renewed their wedding vows during an intimate ceremony where they wore matching white outfits. Davis posted a photo of the two the following day on Instagram captioned, "'We are most alive when we're in love.' -John Updike Happy Valentine's Day!"
January 2017: Viola Davis, Julius Tennon, and Genesis Attend Davis's Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony
The family attended Davis's Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in January 2017, during which they all posed for cute photos together. During the actor's speech, Davis tearfully thanked her "handsome husband" and "beautiful daughter."
December 2022: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon Reflect on Their First Date
Davis and Tennon both spoke to the Los Angeles Times in December 2022 to recap their love story. According to the publication, Tennon took Davis to the Crocodile Cafe on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, CA, for their first date.
"He drove me home in his Nissan Maxima," Davis recalled, as Tennon interjected with, "My new Nissan Maxima." His wife added, "Oh, it was so clean. And he drove me to the front curb and he shook my hand. He said I was beautiful and that he'd had such a beautiful time. And he stayed there until I got to the door of my apartment. He was such a gentleman." With a smile, Tennon called it "Texas hospitality."
January 2023: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon Give Architectural Digest a Tour of Their Home
Davis and Tennon opened up their Los Angeles home to Architectural Digest, which they had customized by interior designer Michaela Cadiz after five years of living there with their daughter. The change was apparently inspired by "The Woman King," which Davis starred in alongside John Boyega, Thuso Mbedu, and Lashana Lynch.
"We were working in South Africa, shooting 'The Woman King,' while the renovation was unfolding and we were inspired by the incredible color and culture there," Davis told the outlet. "I always want to go big and bold, but not too bold, not garish." Tennon added, "In our space, we want to feel like we're connected to our heritage."
April 2023: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon Star Together in "Air"
Davis and Tennon once again shared the screen together in Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's "Air," which recalls the origin story of Nike and Michael Jordan's epic deal to create the Air Jordan sneaker. In the movie, Davis plays the legendary athlete's mother, Deloris Jordan, and Tennon portrays his late father, James Jordan Sr.
Davis talked about what it was like starring alongside her husband in an April 2023 interview with Collider, saying, "Let me tell you, that is our dynamic in real life." "Julius has told me, since we got together, 'V, now when you come home and it's late at night, you make sure you don't get out of that car until the gates close. And if someone's following you, you lay on that horn, and I'm gonna come out with my baseball bat,'" she continued. "I laid on the horn once by accident, coming home at three o'clock in the morning. I counted to five and Julius came out with the baseball bat, and I knew. I was like, 'That's it. I'm gonna marry him.' That's my dude."