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Virginia Elizabeth "Geena" Davis (born January 21, 1956)[1] is an American actress, film producer, writer, former fashion model, and a women's Olympics archery team semi-finalist.[2] She is known for her roles in Stuart LittleThe FlyBeetlejuiceThelma & LouiseA League of Their OwnThe Long Kiss Goodnight and The Accidental Tourist, for which she won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 2005, she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her role in Commander in Chief.

Early life

Davis was born in Wareham, Massachusetts. Her mother, Lucille (née Cook), was a teacher's assistant, and her father, William F. Davis, was a civil engineer and church deacon; her parents had both been from small towns in Vermont.[3] She has a brother named Danforth ("Dan").[4][5] 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 herCongregationalist church in Wareham.[6][7] Davis attended Wareham High School and was an exchange student in Sandviken, Sweden, becoming fluent in Swedish.[6] Enrolling at New England College, she eventually graduated with a bachelor's degree in drama from Boston University in 1979.[6]Davis is a member of Mensa, a social organization whose members are in the top 2% of intelligence as measured by an IQ test entrance exam.[6][8]


Following her education, Davis served as a window mannequin for Ann Taylor until signing with New York's Zoli modeling agency in 1979.[9] Davis auditioned for roles in many popular movies, including The Terminator’s Sarah Connor, which went to Linda Hamilton.[10] She was working as a model when she was cast by director Sydney Pollack in his film Tootsie(1982) as a soap opera actress.[6] She followed the role with the part of Wendy Killain in the short-lived television seriesBuffalo Bill,[11] which aired from June 1983 to March 1984. She also wrote the Buffalo Bill episode entitled "Miss WBFL."[11] 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, two 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 FletchThe Fly, and Beetlejuice, 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).[6] Davis replaced Debra Winger in the role of Dottie in A League of Their Own (1992), and received a Best Actress Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.[12] 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,[13] and as Eleanor Little in Stuart Little (1999), a role she reprised in 2002 and again in 2005.[14]

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 NBCsitcom Will & Grace. She went on to star in the ABC television series Commander in Chief, portraying the first female President of the United States.[15]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.[16]

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

Personal life

Davis was married to Richard Emmolo (March 25, 1982 – February 26, 1983); actor Jeff Goldblum, with whom she starred in three films, Transylvania 6-5000The Fly and Earth Girls Are Easy (1987 – 1990); and Renny Harlin, who directed her in Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight (1993 – 1998).

On September 1, 2001, Davis married Reza Jarrahy, an Iranian-American plastic surgeon.[17] At age 46,[17] Davis gave birth to their daughter Alizeh Keshvar (born April 10, 2002). At age 48, she had twin boys, Kian William Jarrahy and Kaiis Steven (born May 6, 2004).[1]


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 what she thought was 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.

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.[18]

Davis launched The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2007.[19] 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.[20]

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 ThurmanChanel Iman and Josh Hartnett in TV and internet ads to "forward the facts" about the crisis.[21]


Davis has stated that she was not an athlete growing up,[22] and that her introduction to archery was in 1997, two years prior to her tryouts.

In July 1999, Davis was one of 300 women[2] who vied for a semifinals berth in the US Olympic archery team to participate in the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics.[6] 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.[23]


List of film credits
Year Title Role Notes
1982 Tootsie April Page
1985 Fletch Larry
1985 Transylvania 6-5000 Odette
1986 The Fly Veronica Quaife Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
1988 Beetlejuice Barbara Maitland
1988 Earth Girls Are Easy Valerie Gail
1988 The Accidental Tourist Muriel Pritchett Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1990 Quick Change Phyllis Potter
1991 Thelma & Louise Thelma Yvonne Dickinson *Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress*David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress shared with Susan Sarandon
1992 A League of Their Own Dottie Hinson *Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy*Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance
1992 Hero Gale Gayley
1993 Princess Scargo and the Birthday Pumpkin Narrator (voice) short subject
1994 Angie Angie Scacciapensieri
1994 Speechless Julia Mann *also producer
1995 Cutthroat Island Morgan Adams
1996 The Long Kiss Goodnight Samantha Caine / Charly Baltimore *also producer
1999 Stuart Little Mrs. Eleanor Little Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
2002 Stuart Little 2 Mrs. Eleanor Little
2006 Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild Mrs. Eleanor Little voice
2009 Accidents Happen Gloria Conway

List of television credits
Year Title Role Notes
1983–1984 Buffalo Bill Wendy Killian 26 episodes
1983 Knight Rider Grace Fallon Episode: "K.I.T.T. The Cat"
1984 Family Ties Karen Nicholson 3 episodes
1984 Riptide Dr. Melba Bozinsky Episode: "Raiders of the Lost Sub"
1985 Sara Sara McKenna 13 episodes
1985 Secret Weapons Tamara Reshevsky/Brenda Television movie
1985 Remington Steele Sandy Dalrymple Episode: "Steele in the Chips"
2000–2001 The Geena Davis Show Teddie Cochran 22 episodes
2003 Will & Grace Janet Adler Episode: "The Accidental Tsuris"
2005–2006 Commander in Chief President Mackenzie Allen 19 episodes
2009 Exit 19 Gloria Woods Television movie
2012 Coma Dr. Agnetta Lindquist 2 episodes