Viola Davis is one of the most accomplished actresses of our generation. Since she began her career in 1988, Davis has been the recipient on an Academy Award, a Tony Award, and a Primetime Emmy for her portrayal of Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder. Her on-screen prowess has been well documented, and today, she announced the news for what may be her most exciting role yet.
Slated to debut in the first quarter of 2022, Showtime’s The First Lady will highlight the lives and political contributions of America’s more notable tirst ladies—Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Betty Ford—in its first season.
Davis, who also serves as the show’s executive producer alongside Cathy Schulman, will play the role of Michelle Obama during her husband’s two terms as President of the United States. According to Entertainment Weekly, Davis read Obama’s memoir, and watched the Netflix documentary Becoming, in order to add layers to her portrayal of the first African American first lady.
“I feel very protective of Michelle,” Davis told EW. “It’s our job as actors not to judge whoever we are portraying, but I ended up thinking she’s just dope.”
Gillian Anderson will play Eleanor Roosevelt, who served as the first lady of the United States from 1933-1945, making her the longest tenured first lady in American history thus far. The First Lady will chronicle both the political and personal relationships of Roosevelt.
Davis and Anderson will be joined by Michelle Pfeiffer as she takes on the role of Betty Ford. During her time as first lady, she was a vocal advocate of breast cancer awareness, abortion rights, and gun control, among others.
Directed by Susanne Bier, the show’s cast will also include Aaron Eckhart, Judy Greer, Nancy Howe, Jayme Lawson, Kristine Froseth and Rhys Wakefield.
The official release date for The First Lady has not yet been set, but it will premiere exclusively on Showtime in the spring of 2022.