In the January issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Dec. 11, Viola Davis is gorgeous and glamorous in looks by Dries Van Noten, Rochas, and Ports 1961—though the actress admits she doesn't always feel that way. "I know people always say that I'm a star and a celebrity, but I never feel like one," she says in the behind-the-scenes video above. "Taking care of a 5-year-old, cooking at home, and running to the set when you've had four hours of sleep, you don't feel like a movie star. Then, every once in a while, you put something on that makes you feel cute."
For Davis, that something on our set was a black floor-length gown with a frilly, deep V neckline by Lanvin. Though she had fun dressing up in couture, you still won't mistake her for her small-screen alter-ego Annalise Keating, the flawlessly dressed (but morally flawed) criminal defense attorney she plays on the Shonda Rhimes-produced mega-hit, How to Get Away With Murder. As we learned from Davis's conversation with writer Veronica Chambers, style isn't the only way the 50-year-old's life doesn't imitate her art. Read on for five insights into why we know the groundbreaking Emmy winner and two-time Oscar nominee is a clear joyous spirit.
1. There are very few designer duds in her closet. "If I were to compare my style to Annalise Keating, I would say that I have absolutely no style," she says with a laugh. "Annalise Keating is an Alexander McQueen, kinda Max Mara girl. That's not me. I have a five year old, so..."
2. She's gotten married three times—to the same man! Surely something Annalise—who cheated on her husband and later helped her students cover up his murder—would never consider. (Still, it seems Annalise's sartorial sense is influencing Davis. When she first married actor-producer Julius Tennon 13 years ago, she wore a simple skirt from Express. A few years later they exchanged vows again, and she wore a more traditional dress. For their latest upcoming vow renewal, Davis is wearing a custom dress by Carmen Marc Valvo.)
3. She'd rather allocate all that time Annalise spends in the office to being in a (fictional) rocket ship with her daughter. "We go into space. We explore different planets," Davis says of the game Genesis is most currently fond of. "This ship is in danger. We almost died at one point. We lost oxygen."
4. She prefers relaxing to pulling one of Annalise's pre-trial all-nighters. "I am addicted to spas," she says. "If we go to a hotel, we'll be the only people in that spa for hours. We'll start at 5 in the morning sometimes."
5. She's not afraid to look—and be—natural. "What's released me most from the fear of aging is self-awareness," she says. "I've never determined my value based on my looks or anything physical. I've been through a lot in life, and what has gotten me through is strength of character and faith."
For more from Davis on her style, watch the video above, and to read all the life lessons Davis distills on marriage, motherhood, and more, pick up the January issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Dec. 11.