Geena Davis

Geena Davis

Davis at the World Maker Faire in New York on September 22, 2013
Born Virginia Elizabeth Davis
(1956-01-21) January 21, 1956
Wareham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater New England College[1]
Boston University (B.A., Drama, 1979)[2]
Occupation Actress, producer, writer, athlete, model
Years active 1982–present
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[3]
  • Richard Emmolo (m. 1982; div. 1983)
  • Jeff Goldblum (m. 1987; div. 1990)
  • Renny Harlin (m. 1993; div. 1998)
  • Reza Jarrahy (m. 2001)
Children 3
Parent(s) William F. Davis (father)
Lucille Cook (mother)

Virginia Elizabeth "Geena" Davis (born January 21, 1956)[4] is an American actress, film producer, writer, former fashion model, and former archer.[8] She is known for her roles in The Fly (1986), Beetlejuice (1988), Thelma & Louise (1991), A League of Their Own (1992), The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), Stuart Little (1999), and The Accidental Tourist, for which she won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 2005, Davis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her role in Commander in Chief. In 2014, she returned to television portraying Dr. Nicole Herman in Grey's Anatomy. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress along with her co-star Susan Sarandon for Thelma and Louise. Davis is currently starring as Regan MacNeil/Angela Rance in the horror television series The Exorcist.

Early life

Davis was born January 21, 1956, in Wareham, Massachusetts. Her mother, Lucille (née Cook; June 19, 1919 – November 15, 2001), was a teacher's assistant, and her father, William F. Davis (November 7, 1913 – April 2, 2009), was a civil engineer and church deacon; her parents were both from small towns in Vermont.[9] She has a brother named Danforth ("Dan").[10][11]

At an early age, she became interested in music. She learned piano and flute and played organ well enough as a teenager to serve as an organist at her Congregationalist church in Wareham.[12][13]

Davis attended Wareham High School and was an exchange student in Sandviken, Sweden, becoming fluent in Swedish.[12] Enrolling at New England College, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Drama from Boston University in 1979.[12][2] Davis is a member of Mensa, a social organization whose members are in the top 2% of intelligence.[12][14]

Following her education, Davis served as a window mannequin for Ann Taylor until signing with New York's Zoli modeling agency.[15]


Davis at the 61st Academy Awards in 1989

Davis was working as a model when she was cast by director Sydney Pollack in his film Tootsie (1982) as a soap opera actress.[12] She followed the role with the part of Wendy Killian in the short-lived television series Buffalo Bill,[16] which aired from June 1983 to March 1984. She also wrote the Buffalo Bill episode entitled "Miss WBFL."[16] During the run of Buffalo Bill, in 1983, Davis also appeared as Grace Fallon in an episode of Knight Rider entitled "K.I.T.T. the Cat". Her television credits from the mid-1980s also include one episode of Riptide, three episodes of Family Ties, and an episode of Remington Steele. This was followed by a series of her own, Sara, which lasted thirteen episodes.

After roles in Fletch, The Fly, Beetlejuice, and several other movies Davis received an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for her appearance in The Accidental Tourist (1988), and a Best Actress nomination for her role in Thelma & Louise (1991).[12] Davis replaced Debra Winger in the role of Dottie Hinson in A League of Their Own (1992), and received a Best Actress Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.[17] She then co-starred in Hero alongside Dustin Hoffman and Andy Garcia.

Davis then teamed up with then-husband, director Renny Harlin, for the films Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight (both 1996). She and Harlin co-produced the films. Davis was nominated for the Saturn Awards for her performances as Samantha/Charlie in The Long Kiss Goodnight,[18] and as Eleanor Little in Stuart Little (1999), a role she reprised in 2002 and again in 2005.[19]

In 2000–2001, Davis starred in the short-lived sitcom The Geena Davis Show. In early 2004 she guest-starred as Grace Adler's sister, Janet, on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace. She went on to star in the ABC television series Commander in Chief, portraying the first female President of the United States.[20] This role garnered her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 2006, and she also was nominated for an Emmy Award and a SAG Award for Outstanding Female Actor in a Drama Series. Also in 2006, she was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award.[21]

She starred in the Australian-produced, American-set Accidents Happen, which was released in April 2010.

During the 11th season of Grey's Anatomy, Davis played a recurring role as Dr. Nicole Herman, who is an attending fetal surgeon who has a life-threatening brain tumor.

In October 2015, it was announced that Davis would be starring in the film adaptation of Marjorie Prime alongside Jon Hamm.[22]

Personal life

Reza Jarrahy and Davis in 2009

On September 1, 2001, Davis married Reza Jarrahy (b. 1971), an Iranian-American plastic surgeon. They have three children: daughter Alizeh Keshvar Jarrahy (born April 10, 2002) and fraternal twin sons Kian William Jarrahy and Kaiis Steven Jarrahy (born May 6, 2004).[23][24] The marriage is Davis's fourth.[25]

She was previously married to Richard Emmolo (1982–83); actor Jeff Goldblum (1987–90), with whom she starred in three films, Transylvania 6-5000, The Fly, and Earth Girls Are Easy; and Renny Harlin (1993–98), who directed her in Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight.


The handprints of Geena Davis in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Davis is fronting the Women's Sports Foundation campaign Geena Takes Aim in support of Title IX, an Act of Congress focusing on equality in sports opportunities, now expanded to prohibit gender discrimination in United States' educational institutions.

In 2004, while watching children's television programs and videos with her daughter, Davis noticed an imbalance in the ratio of male to female characters. Davis went on to sponsor the largest research project ever undertaken on gender in children's entertainment (resulting in 4 discrete studies, including one on children's television) at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California.

The study, directed by Dr. Stacy Smith, showed that there were nearly 3 males to every 1 female character in the nearly 400 G, PG, PG-13, and R-Rated movies the undergraduate team of Annenberg students analyzed.[26]

Geena Davis speaking at Bates College on May 31, 2009.

In 2005, Davis teamed up with the non-profit group, Dads and Daughters, to launch a venture dedicated to balancing the number of male and female characters in children's TV and movie programming.[27]

Davis launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2007.[28] The Institute's first focus is an on-the-ground program that works collaboratively with the entertainment industry to dramatically increase the presence of female characters in media aimed at children and to reduce stereotyping of females by the male-dominated industry. For her work in this field she received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bates College in May 2009.[29]

In 2011, Davis became one of a handful of celebrities attached to USAID and Ad Council's FWD campaign, an awareness initiative tied to that year's East Africa drought. She joined Uma Thurman, Chanel Iman and Josh Hartnett in TV and internet ads to "forward the facts" about the crisis.[30]

In 2015, Davis launched an annual film festival to be held in Bentonville, Arkansas, to highlight diversity in film, accepting films that prominently feature minorities and women in the cast and crew. The Bentonville Film Festival took place from May 5–9, 2015, and began accepting submissions on January 15.[31]


In July 1999, Davis was one of 300 women who vied for a semifinals berth in the U.S. Olympic archery team to participate in the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics.[8][12] She placed 24th of 300 and did not qualify for the team, but participated as a wild-card entry in the Sydney International Golden Arrow competition.[32] Davis has stated that she was not an athlete growing up and that her introduction to archery was in 1997, two years prior to her tryouts.[33]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Tootsie April Page
1985 Fletch Larry
1985 Transylvania 6-5000 Odette
1986 Fly, TheThe Fly Veronica 'Ronnie' Quaife
1988 Beetlejuice Barbara Maitland
1988 Earth Girls Are Easy Valerie Gail
1988 Accidental Tourist, TheThe Accidental Tourist Muriel Pritchett
1990 Quick Change Phyllis Potter
1991 Thelma & Louise Thelma Dickinson
1992 League of Their Own, AA League of Their Own Dottie Hinson
1992 Hero Gale Gayley
1994 Angie Angie Scacciapensieri
1994 Speechless Julia Mann
1995 Cutthroat Island Morgan Adams
1996 Long Kiss Goodnight, TheThe Long Kiss Goodnight Samantha Caine / Charlene 'Charly' Baltimore
1999 Stuart Little Mrs. Eleanor Little
2002 Stuart Little 2 Mrs. Eleanor Little
2005 Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild Mrs. Eleanor Little (voice) Video
2009 Accidents Happen Gloria Conway
2013 In a World... Katherine Huling
2014 When Marnie Was There Yoriko Sasaki (voice) English version
2016 Me Him Her Mrs. Ehrlick
2016 Marjorie Prime Tess Post-production
2017 Don't Talk to Irene Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Knight Rider Grace Fallon "K.I.T.T. the Cat"
1983–84 Buffalo Bill Wendy Killian Main role
1984 Fantasy Island Whitney Clark 1 episode
1984 Riptide Dr. Melba Bozinsky "Raiders of the Lost Sub"
1984–86 Family Ties Karen Nicholson "Help Wanted", "Karen II, Alex 0", "A Word to the Wise"
1985 Secret Weapons Tamara Reshevsky / Brenda TV film
1985 Remington Steele Sandy Dalrymple "Steele in the Chips"
1985 Sara Sara McKenna Main role
1989 Trying Times Daphne "The Hit List"
2000-01 Geena Davis Show, TheThe Geena Davis Show Teddie Cochran Main role
2004 Will & Grace Janet Adler "The Accidental Tsuris"
2005–06 Commander in Chief President Mackenzie Allen Main role
2009 Exit 19 Gloria Woods TV film
2012 Coma Dr. Agnetta Lindquist TV miniseries
2013 Untitled Bounty Hunter Project Mackenzie Ryan Unsold TV pilot
2013 Doc McStuffins Princess Persephone (voice) 1 episode
2014–15 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Nicole Herman Recurring role
2015 Annedroids Student "Undercover Pigeon"
2016 The Exorcist Angela Rance/Regan MacNeil Lead role

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1987 Saturn Awards Best Actress The Fly Nominated
1989 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress The Accidental Tourist Won
1991 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Thelma & Louise Won
1991 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Thelma & Louise Nominated
1991 National Board of Review Best Actress (with Susan Sarandon) Thelma & Louise Won
1991 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress (with Susan Sarandon) Thelma & Louise Nominated
1992 Academy Awards Best Actress Thelma & Louise Nominated
1992 BAFTA Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Thelma & Louise Nominated
1992 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Thelma & Louise Nominated
1992 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Thelma & Louise Nominated
1992 MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance Thelma & Louise Nominated
1992 MTV Movie Awards Best On-Screen Duo (with Susan Sarandon) Thelma & Louise Nominated
1992 People's Choice Awards Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture Actress Herself Nominated
1993 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy A League of Their Own Nominated
1993 MTV Movie Awards Best Female Performance A League of Their Own Nominated
1995 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Speechless Nominated
1997 Saturn Awards Best Actress The Long Kiss Goodnight Nominated
2000 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Stuart Little Nominated
2005 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Commander in Chief Nominated
2006 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Commander in Chief Won
2006 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Commander in Chief Nominated
2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Commander in Chief Nominated


  1. "New England College to Receive $3 Million Gift", New England College news office
  2. 1 2 Sandberg, Bryn Elise, "BOSTON U: HOLLYWOOD’S SECRET FEMALE TRAINING GROUND: Dozens of top execs and talents call BU their alma mater, as alumnae from Geena Davis and her college roommate Nina Tassler to Nancy Dubuc gather to honor the college that puts the ‘B’ in showbiz", The Hollywood Reporter, December 2014. (reproduced on Boston University College of Arts and Sciences website)
  3. Winfrey, Oprah (December 2006). "Oprah Interviews Geena Davis". O. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  4. Though some sources list her birth year as 1957[5][6][7] Davis seemed to acknowledge being 48 in 2004 as People magazine had asserted in previous issues. See: Mailbag
  5. The New Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations
  8. 1 2 "OLYMPICS; Geena Davis Zeros In With Bow and Arrows". NY Times. 6 August 1999. Archived from the original on June 12, 2015. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
  9. "Editor's notes: Fish out of water" April 8, 2009, South Coast Today
  10. Geena Davis biography. Film
  11. "Editor's notes: Fish out of water".
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2000
  13. "Trends in Photography". Los Angeles Times. July 14, 1989.
  14. "Mensa USA web site". 2011-03-31. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  15. "Davis bio at Yahoo Movies". Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  16. 1 2 Buffalo Bill at the Internet Movie Database
  17. Joe Brown (July 3, 1992). "'A League of Their Own' (PG)". Washington Post. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
  18. Awards for Geena Davis at the Internet Movie Database
  19. Awards for Stuart Little at the Internet Movie Database
  20. "Geena Davis Would Love to Be Part of a 'Beetlejuice' Sequel". BloodyDisgusting.
  21. Lucy Award, past recipients Archived 2011-08-20 at WebCite WIF web site
  22. "Geena Davis on Playing Opposite Jon Hamm in MARJORIE PRIME, 'I'm Excited!'". Broadway World. October 11, 2015. Retrieved December 24, 2015.
  23. "Mothers Over the Age of 40: PEOPLE". People magazine. April 19, 2002. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  24. Blash, Margi (May 31, 2004). "Hollywood Baby Boom". Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  25. Silverman, Stephen M. (September 5, 2001). "Geena Davis a Bride for Fourth Time". Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  26. Smith, Stacy L.; Choueiti, Marc; Pieper, Katherine; Gillig, Traci; Lee, Carmen; DeLuca, Dylan. "Inequality in 700 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race, & LGBT Status from 2007 to 2014".
  27. Burch, Ariel Z (March 15, 2008). "Geena Davis: In a league of her own". Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  28. "Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media". Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  29. "List of 2009 Bates honorands at Bates College web site". April 9, 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  30. "Dr. Jill Biden Joins USAID and Ad Council to Debut FWD Campaign for the Crisis in the Horn of Africa". PR Newswire. October 26, 2011.
  31. "Geena Davis Launching Bentonville Film Festival to Push for Diversity in Film". Variety. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
  32. "Geena Davis still causing commotion in archery". CNN. September 21, 1999. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  33. Litsky, Frank (August 6, 1999). "OLYMPICS; Geena Davis Zeros in With Bow and Arrows". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010.

External links

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