Viola Davis marked her 55th birthday with news of a very meaningful real estate purchase.

The Oscar-winning actress marveled at the fact that she is now the proud owner of the house where she was born — and the surrounding land — in St. Matthews, S.C. The land sits on the former Singleton Plantation, where, as Davis has noted before, her extended family once resided.

“[There was] no running water. No bathroom. It’s just an outhouse,” Davis said of the residence in an August 2016 interview with Entertainment Weekly. “But my mom says that the day I was born, all of my aunts and uncles were in the house, she said, everyone was drinking and laughing, and having fun. She said she ate a sardine, mustard, onion, tomato sandwich after I was born.”

Part of Davis’s branch of the family moved to Rhode Island when she was still a toddler, but the South Carolina house remained important to her.

“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,” Davis said. “One hundred [and] 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.”

Davis has mentioned in the past, such as when she won the Oscar for her work in 2016’s Fences, that she experienced abject poverty as a child.

“I grew up in apartments that were condemned and rat-infested, and I just always sort of wanted to be somebody,” she said of her life in Rhode Island. “I just wanted to be good at something. So this is sort of like the miracle of God, of dreaming big and just hoping that it sticks and it lands, and it did. Who knew? So I’m overwhelmed.”

As she begins another year, Davis has even more exciting things ahead. For starters, she’s expected to play Michelle Obama in a new Showtime series, First Ladies, which she’ll also executive produce.

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