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Famed Actress Viola Davis Delivers A Powerful Message At St. Philips 16th Annual Destiny Awards!

In celebration of its 70th year St. Philips School & Community Center hosted its most rewarding fundraiser- the 16th Annual Destiny Awards luncheon Friday, March 4th at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Sunny South Dallas!

Oscar nominated, Emmy Award, Tony Award and SAG Award winning actress and star of the ABC’s hit show How to Get Away with Murder- Viola Davis’ headlined the event as the Keynote speaker.

Upon entry into St. Philips we were greeted with students playing the cello and violin at the doorway, next- an aloud oration of the St. Philips creed was delivered (I didn’t remember as much as I thought)

Once inside and after being introduced to a few notables by Dr. Flowers (my old principal now Executive Director/ Headmaster), I roamed into the Snyder Activity Center where over 70 tables were sat for the sold out crowd to witness the Q&A interview moderated by WFAA reporter Rebecca Lopez. Spotted mixing and mingling in the crowd was Clarice Tinsley and husband Skip, Roland Parrish, Jessica Olsson and many prestigious Dallasites.

After a kneeled prayer with students led by Dr. Flowers the program commenced with Honorary chairs Pat and Emmitt Smith who took to the stage to give the school strong praise on their educational program. Graduate of 2010 Brandon Douglass expressed how the development of St. Philips and his education there has prepared him for his future. He says “St. Philips is a big splat on my painting.” [Comparing his life experiences to a canvas painting]

Next, educational philanthropists Abigail and Todd Williams received the organizations first Humanitarian Award. Their works in connecting relationships between diverse communities has not gone unnoticed. Abigail expressed that she “loved that the St. Philips students loved to expect greatness of themselves.” (This is true, as I am a testament.)

Then Viola Davis hit the stage with a powerful message about her journey to find out who and what she wanted to be. She shared that her grandmother asked her at the age of 5 what she wanted to be and she responded “I don’t know”. Grandma told her that she "had to know" because you have to start working towards that now. She also spoke about her journey in Hollywood and the lack of diversity within that system saying “We have to diversify". Davis continued her interview with a series of questions from St. Philips students as well. Afterwards she shared her experience and admiration for 91 year old legendary actress Cicely Tyson leading her to share that “At some point you have to be proud of your testimony. You get so lost on the everyday that you forget. You think about where you gotta go but not where you’ve been already.” Concluding her on stage interview, Viola closed with “It always amazing when you find the presence of God!”

As an Alum I always feel welcomed when I pull up to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, similar to that feeling you get when hugging Grandma. The memories created and enrichment bestowed upon me at St. Philips will forever be a vital part of my life.

The Destiny Awards raised over $900,000 which will go towards funds that would help support operations for the St. Philips educational and social service programs! You can donate anytime and become an advocate by clicking on the St. Philips website.

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