Showtime is exploring the personal and professional lives of America’s most impactful first ladies in a new drama, aptly titled First Ladies. The hour-long series doesn’t have a premiere date yet, but casting news is already making internet waves. According to Deadline, Academy/Emmy/Tony Award-winning actress Viola Davis will star as Michelle Obama and executive produce First Ladies. Davis will team up with writer Aaron Cooley (The Guns of Ridgewood), Gaspin Media (LA’s Finest), Brad Kaplan (The Intruder), and Cathy Shulman’s Welle Entertainment—which recently released Netflix’s Otherhood—to focus on Obama’s legacy, as well as Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford this season.
Portraying the first Black woman to become American’s First Lady is not an easy task. It requires a true thespian who can portray the charisma and poise that Mrs. Obama showed in the face of adversity and racially fueled criticism along with the struggle of developing and executing her own initiatives. Viola Davis has shown her power and versatility onscreen throughout her career, portraying characters like Suicide Squad’s Amanda Waller, Fences’ Rose Maxson, and How to Get Away with Murder’s legal leading lady, Annalise Keating.
She brings an emotional complexity and depth to her performances, making fictional characters seem like real-life women. Her presence can elevate any material and forces other actors to step their game up. So, there’s no doubt that she has the gravitas and range to deliver one of Michelle Obama’s speeches or show her vulnerability in a private moment. Because, let’s be honest, no one does a monologue quite like Viola Davis.
Obama and Davis are an enigmatic duo with a lot in common—using their platform to elevate others, challenging stereotypes against Black women, and even starting production companies to tell stories that will inspire and inform others. Davis’ production company, JuVee Productions—which she founded with her husband Julius Tennon—focuses on delivering dynamic, women-centered content like Lila & Eve and the upcoming sci-fi Fast Color TV series. So, a show that examines the White House and game-changing decisions from women’s perspectives absolutely fits into their overall mission.
Let’s prepare our praise (and all the awards) for what will surely be an epic performance from Viola Davis as she steps into Michelle Obama’s shoes for a lesson in recent American history.