The First Lady's Viola Davis Reacts to Criticism Over Michelle Obama Portrayal

Oscar winner Viola Davis has received some harsh criticism over her role as Michelle Obama in Showtime's The First Lady. See what she had to say about it here!

By Jillian Fabiano Apr 26, 2022 5:30 PMTags

Viola Davis has a message for her haters.

"How do you move on from the hurt, from failure?" Viola asked in an interview with BBC. "You have to. Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance." 

Viola stars as former First Lady Michelle Obama in Showtime's new political drama, The First Lady. But since the series' release on April 17, some viewers have been critical over her portrayal of Michelle, with Twitter users noting that her facial expressions and pursed lips were "overexaggerated" and "borderline insulting."

Although Viola recognizes that criticism is an "occupational hazard" of acting, she noted that it's "incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work."

The First Lady—which also stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt—follows the three women as they try to navigate their role in the White House, and the struggles each faces within it. 

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But Viola won't let the negativity get to her too much, as she believes "critics absolutely serve no purpose."

"I'm not saying that to be nasty either," she continued. "They always feel like they're telling you something that you don't know. Somehow that you're living a life that you're surrounded by people who lie to you and 'I'm going to be the person that leans in and tells you the truth'. So it gives them an opportunity to be cruel to you."

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Viola says that portraying a well-known figure, like Michelle, is "almost impossible."

"Either you're doing too much or not enough," she added. "I feel like it is my job as a leader to make bold choices. Win or fail it is my duty to do that."

The First Lady airs Sundays on Showtime.

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