Though Viola Davis hasn’t shared much about the private conversation she had with Michelle Obama ahead of her portrayal as the former first lady in the Showtime series The First Lady, the Emmy, Oscar and Tony Award-winning actress did speak to Deadline about her desire to “honor” her.
Davis joined a panel for Deadline’s Contender TV — a series of events featuring highly popular shows on TV today — where she revealed details of a small portion of her talk with Mrs. Obama.
“What’s dramatic about Michelle Obama?” she asked, re-stating the question posed upon her. “I’ll tell you what’s dramatic. She is a Black woman and the first Black woman in the White House built by slaves, someone who literally was perceived to be overly masculine, not feminine, angry, hostile, and I will share one thing that she said to me.”
Davis continued: “She said, ‘I’m not even an angry person.’ Isn’t that something? Listen, I am sort of an angry person, but she’s not. And so what I wanted to do was honor her and not the perception of what Black women are supposed to be.”
The First Lady will tell the story of White House leadership through the lens of former first ladies Mrs. Obama; Eleanor Roosevelt, who will be played by Gillian Anderson; and Betty Ford, who will be portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer.
The 10-episode series premieres April 17 on Showtime.
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