Viola Davis is a newly minted Oscar winner, but the Fences star grew up with much, much less.
Davis opens up in PEOPLE’s new cover story about the struggles of growing up in poverty and how her talent propelled her to success later in life. In the issue, the Best Supporting Actress winner talks movingly about the only photo she has from her childhood.
“The only picture I have of my childhood is the picture of me in kindergarten,” says Davis, 51, whose family didn’t have the money for a camera. “I have this expression on my face — it’s not a smile, it’s not a frown. I swear to you, that’s the girl who wakes up in the morning and who looks around her house and her life saying, ‘I cannot believe how God has blessed me.’