Beloved by audiences as endearing maid Aibileen Clark in 2011’s The Help, Viola Davis is again ready to stand out on screen. This time, the actress is stepping outside the box to play bold and charismatic law professor and defense attorney Annalise Keating on Shonda Rhimes‘ new Thursday night series How to Get Away With Murder.
On the series, Davis, whose last recurring TV role was on United States of Tara, leads her Criminal Law 101 students by example in encouraging them to explore all angles of their cases — until a group of them become embroiled in a scandal that tests Keating’s own professional and personal loyalties.
During a summer 2014 Television Critics Association interview about her new series, Davis opened up about what drew her to play Rhimes’ newest primetime leading lady.
“I dove at [this role]. I love the fact that she’s messy and mysterious. She’s not necessarily nurturing and ‘Come sit on my lap so I can talk to you, baby,'” Davis said. “She’s a woman. She’s sexual. She’s vulnerable. I wanted a character that took me out of my comfort zone.”
Watch a sneak peek of Davis as the bold professor and tune into How to Get Away With Murder — costarring Orange Is the New Black‘s Matt McGorry and Harry Potter‘s Alfred Enoch — Thursday, Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. (EST) on ABC.