BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Playing an attorney on TV has shown Viola Davis there's a slim — and slippery — divide between guilt and innocence.

The 49-year-old actress stars as a defense attorney and law professor on the new ABC show "How to Get Away With Murder," which premiered Thursday to an impressive 14 million viewers.

Davis' character, Annalise Keating, comes off in the first episode as sharp, intimidating and not all the way righteous. Davis said the role taught her "just how fine the line is between guilt and innocence, and a lie and the truth, and good and bad."

"I'm not just talking about the cases," she said. "I mean being a defense attorney!"

Davis has had recurring roles on TV series including "Law & Order: SVU" and "United States of Tara," but it's a new experience for the Oscar-nominated and Tony-winning star to work full-time in TV.

"I'm tired, but I'm liking it. I'm liking the pace of it," she said. "I'm liking the quick decisions you have to make. I feel alive as an artist."

She also appreciates the chance to stay in one place and sleep in her own bed each night.

"Having a 4-year-old, that's fabulous," she said.

Davis discussed her new show Sunday at a benefit for the Rape Treatment Center, which she became acquainted with through research for a role.

"That whole facility just moved me," she said. "It is just geared toward helping the victim... and I wanted to be a part of that. My heart was moved by it."

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .