Viola Davis on playing Michelle Obama: ‘I ended up thinking she’s just dope’

The First Lady series from Showtime is coming early next year and we’ve waited over two years for its unveiling. The mini-series is based on the lives of three influential first ladies and will star Viola Davis as Michelle Obama, Michelle Pfieffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. Entertainment Weekly has a first look of the three actresses in character. After the stills from set dropped people were amazed at how much Viola Davis looked like Michelle Obama, right down to Michelle’s smirk. In the profile on EW, Viola Davis said she spent hours reading Michelle’s memoir and watching her documentary on Netflix to perfect her gestures. Below are a few highlights from EW:

The show’s first season will focus on the personal and political lives of Obama, Ford, and Roosevelt, tracing “their journeys to Washington through an enlightening intimacy,” according to Showtime.

Yes, the Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress (and The First Lady exec producer) did have a nice chat with Michelle Obama — and read her memoir, Becoming — before signing on to the anthology series, which explores the former First Lady’s eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (The dead ringer for President Barack Obama is Black Widow’s O-T Fagbenle.)

“I feel very protective of Michelle,” says Davis, who also studied the first lady’s 2020 Netflix doc to perfect her gestures. “It’s our job as actors not to judge whoever we are portraying, but I ended up thinking she’s just dope.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

I am looking forward to this miniseries because the casting choices are are impeccable. The picture of Viola as Michelle made me do a double take. I thought “Michelle looks different but similar” before I realized it was Viola. We know Viola is an amazing actress but my goddess the way she nailed Michelle’s gestures right down to her smile is next level acting. I love one of the tweets (below) that stated that Viola should get nominated for an Oscar just for the Michelle smirk smile and I agree. I am looking forward to seeing Viola as Michelle and I know Viola will honor her essence. I am excited to learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford too. I have read some stories about them but do not know them as well as I know Michelle. I wonder what Michelle thinks of the stills of Viola Davis as her. To be a fly on the wall in the Obama home when the series is released.

White House National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

Michelle Obama Delivers Final Speech At The White House

Photos credit: and via Instagram and Twitter

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13 Responses to “Viola Davis on playing Michelle Obama: ‘I ended up thinking she’s just dope’”

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  1. Jillian says:

    Holy shit, Viola! I know she’s brilliant but, as you said: next level. Those girls are really nailing the Obama kids in that photo too

    • Mac says:

      Viola is one of my all time favorite actors. She is amazing in every role. I can’t wait for this series.

  2. Noki says:

    I am VERY picky about biopics and their casting. Maybe i dont have a great imagination,but if the actor doesnt look A LOT like the subject then they better be an excellent actor to bring their essence to film. I was put off by Cuba Gooding jr as OJ and especially Beanie as Monica Lewinisky,one of the worst castings ever.

  3. ThatsNotOkay says:

    Viola can do anything. AND for our sake, I hope she does and that they cast her in everything, from now on. Except The Help.

    • Ann says:

      I wouldn’t say The Help was a bad movie, but I still couldn’t stand it. Except the part where Bryce Dallas Howard’s character freaks out because she…..eats something weird. That was awesome.

      • Noki says:

        @Ann LoL that part was always such a dumb thing to me. How on earth would you not smell a sh*t pie !??

  4. KL says:

    Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt is… to put it kindly… a stretch.

  5. Emma says:

    Phenomenal! Perfect casting, perfect actress.

  6. The Truth Piper says:

    Casting the right actor is the key ingredient to making a successful film. Showtime nailed it by casting Viola Davis as Michelle Obama.

    I agree with Oya, Viola Davis is a brilliant actress who reaches that “next level of acting” by truly becoming the character she’s playing. Ms. Davis’ Michelle Obama smirk is absolute perfection.

    Best wishes to Viola Davis for a long, happy, healthy, successful life and acting career.

  7. Case says:

    I’m sorry. I think Viola is an outstanding actress and she definitely has Michelle’s smirk down perfectly, but something about these photos is extremely uncanny valley and creepy to me. Maybe it’s bc the eyebrows look so odd on Viola? IDK, but I don’t love it lol.

  8. Space Geek says:

    I cannot wait to watch this!! My favourite top 3 First Lady’s in no particular order are Michelle, Eleanor and Hillary. I take it back, that might be my faves in order. I’m not from America but I love a woman/wife who is put into a certain role because of their husband’s job, but absolutely uses the position of First Lady to make an actual difference. Feel free to point out anything I’m ignorant about.

  9. WithTheAmeeican says:

    I love Michelle I can’t wait to see this. CANNOT WAIT!