Viola Davis is terrified to play Michelle Obama: If I mess this up it’s going to define my life

If I could watch a new Viola Davis interview once a week I would be so happy. Maybe I should just try to save them for when I need a pick-me-up. Viola was on Jimmy Kimmel Live when she talked about so many fun topics: wearing sneakers to the Emmys, how she’s intimidated by her upcoming role as Michelle Obama on the Showtime series First Ladies, wearing a fat suit for her new film, and failing her driver’s test three times! She didn’t fail it three times initially, she had already had a driver’s license but let it lapse because she lived in New York City and didn’t need it. Then when she wanted a license again it was a very hard hurdle to pass.

On wearing sneakers to the Emmys
My husband calls me Frank [because I] walk like Frankenstein [in heels]. I knew I had to present so I thought I was going to hobble to the podium, but then I found out I had to walk through the presentation and I said ‘oh hell no,’ I would only do it if I could wear my sneakers. I did not wear the sneakers on the red carpet because I did not want to insult Stuart Weitzman who made the shoes.

How she finally passed the driver’s test on the fourth try
I failed my driving test three times. I succeeded my fourth time and I hugged and kissed the driving instructor and I cried, snot dripping crying. I was 32 years old. I had it at 21 but I lived in New York and it expired. Then I came to California. I took two tests in California, one in Rhode Island, then in Staten Island. I was praying and when I was done he said ‘you passed’ and I grabbed him and kissed him on the side of his lips.

On playing Michelle Obama
I’m terrified. I don’t care what else I’ve done in my life. I’ve won an Emmy, an Oscar, two Tonys but if I mess this up this is going to be the defining moment in my life. I don’t want to make my people mad.

On wearing a fat suit for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix with Denzel Washington and Chadwick Boseman
I loved [wearing a fat suit]. I told them that I wanted really big titties, but I wanted to look like the women I grew up with, like my Aunt Joyce, who was really beautiful but her titties hung down to her waist. I was so excited explaining it, ‘I want my tits to hang down to my waist and I want a big ass!’

[From Jimmy Kimmel Live via YouTube]

Viola was adorable when she got excited about wearing her fat suit, that’s about 5 minutes into the video below. I had to take my driver’s test again in my late 30s as I had let my US state license lapse after moving abroad. I studied for the written test and that was a little intimidating honestly. I got a couple of questions wrong. The driving part wasn’t bad because they didn’t even make me parallel park! I had to parallel park at 17 when I took it, but in my rural area they only made me pull into a parking space, which I thought was too easy. As for Viola, I like how she admitted that she took the driver’s test in three different states looking to pass. That’s not something that’s easy to admit.

As for playing Michelle Obama, I get why she’s nervous about it because Michelle is everything, she didn’t put a foot wrong, but don’t put that much pressure on yourself! Focus on nailing it, not on NOT screwing it up. (I need to tell myself this all the time.) Viola is the perfect person to play MObama, she’s an incredible actress.

I didn’t realize she was just a Grammy away from an EGOT. I hope she makes music so that can happen for her! Also, in case you didn’t see Viola walking across the Emmy’s stage in her sneakers like a boss, I taped that.

Here’s her interview!

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

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10 Responses to “Viola Davis is terrified to play Michelle Obama: If I mess this up it’s going to define my life”

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  1. ABC says:

    I passed mine on the third try. I passed the written exam and first aid exam on the first try, but the driving one was so hard because I panicked at everything. And everytime you fail you have to pay for 3 additional hours of driving with the instructor before they let you try again. So it was expensive as well.

    • manda says:

      Driving takes time to really learn how to do well. You have to learn how it feels when you do certain things, which, unfortunately, sometimes requires getting into accidents or near-accidents. You have to learn how to gauge what other people are doing around you. I didn’t think much of it when I was learning, but when I was teaching the teenager in my life, it was incredibly stressful. And yes, those driving classes are not cheap! But I did not want to be the only source of information

      • ABC says:

        Here they’re obligatory. 30 hours of theory and a theory test, 10 hours of first aid and a first aid test and then 35 hoirs of driving with an instructor. You can’t be taught by a parent or someone unqualified.

        I always wondered, when you are driving with the instructor, you drive a specilly designed car where the instrictor has all the break, gas and clutch on his side of the car too. Isn’t it very unsafe to teach a begginer in a car that doesn’t have that?

      • manda says:

        She had taken obligatory driving classes with an instructor first but then they have to get like 100 hours of driving time on top of that. I did a decent amount of that driving around. So she knew what she was doing as far as rules of the road etc but did not have nearly enough experience to take the test. I did a bunch of that with her, which required me to be on alert and just making sure she’s doing what she needs to as far as looking all around, signaling, keeping up with traffic, etc, and it was stressful for me, probably because I get in the passenger seat normally and zone out, you know? So, we ended up buying more one-on-one instructor time so she got extra instruction while getting those hours. We have so much crazy traffic here and I didn’t feel she was ready or that I was enough. She passed on her first time!

  2. lucy2 says:

    She needs to write a memoir, read the audio book, and then win a Grammy. I want her to EGOT!

    Loved the sneakers. She’ll be great as Michelle.

  3. Abby says:

    She’ll do great as Michelle. I’ll watch anything she does. Love her.

  4. smcollins says:

    This is my first time hearing about her upcoming role as Michelle Obama. She’s a top notch actress so I have no doubt she’ll nail the part. Now I have to subscribe to Showtime just so I can see it!

  5. Nikki* says:

    I’ve been a fan since the beginning of her career!! So thrilled she’ll play Michelle Obama, another fave of mine! Bet she NAILS it, knock wood!