Davis shared a photo of the house in St. Matthews, S.C., where she was born.

By Nick Romano
Updated August 12, 2020 at 03:33 PM EDT
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Viola Davis
Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

There's something powerful and poetic about owning your own story, and Viola Davis now finally gets to say she owns hers.

The Oscar winner commemorated her 55th birthday on Instagram Tuesday by sharing a photo of the house in Saint Matthews, S.C., where she was born on Aug. 11, 1965. The spot marks her grandmother's old farm on what was the Singleton Plantation.

"The above is the house where I was born August 11, 1965," Davis wrote in a post, along with a photo of the now-dilapidated structure. "It is the birthplace of my story. Today on my 55th year of life....I own it....all of it."

The actress also shared a Native American Cherokee birth blessing that reads, "May you live long enough to know why you were born."

EW initially understood the post as Davis saying she took ownership of the house. The actress later clarified in a comment, "Uhh... contrary to websites.... I do not 'own' above house, I 'own' my STORY!! Too abstract I guess."

Davis, who was raised in Central Falls, R.I., previously spoke about her memories living in St. Matthews on a 2016 episode of The Jess Cagle Interview.

"I wasn’t on it long because I was the fifth child, and so we moved soon after I was born,” she said. “I mean, I went back to visit briefly but still not aware of the history. I think I read one slave narrative of someone who was on that plantation which was horrific. One hundred sixty acres of land, and my grandfather was a sharecropper. Most of my uncles and cousins, they’re farmers. That’s the choice that they had. My grandmother’s house was a one-room shack. I have a picture of it on my phone because I think it’s a beautiful picture."

Despite "no running water" and "no bathroom" beyond an outhouse, Davis loves the story of her birth because "it's a great story of celebration in the midst of what you would feel is a decimated environment."

"My mom says that the day I was born, all of my aunts and uncles were in the house," Davis recalled. "She said everyone was drinking and laughing and having fun. She said she ate a sardine, mustard, onion, tomato sandwich after I was born."

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Davis purchased the house where she was born, though the actress clarified she meant that she owned her own story and not the property. The article has since been updated.   

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