Viola Davis Becomes Michelle Obama In Trailer For 'The First Lady' Anthology Series

The series, which explores the inner lives of three former first ladies, also stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt.
Viola Davis stars as Michelle Obama in Showtime's "The First Lady."
Viola Davis stars as Michelle Obama in Showtime's "The First Lady."

Advance condolences to other prestige TV actors vying for the Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy next year, because Viola Davis is about to clear the competition.

The Oscar winner takes center stage alongside Michelle Pfeiffer and Gillian Anderson in Showtime’s upcoming anthology series “The First Lady,” which pulls back the curtain on the lives of three women who made their mark on the White House: Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Davis assumes the role of Obama, with the opening shot of the series’ trailer recreating a sitting session for what would become her official portrait by the artist Amy Sherald.

“In four years, I don’t want to look back and think, ‘What did I become living in that house?’” Davis goes on to ask Barack Obama, played here by “The Handmaid’s Tale” star O-T Fagbenle.

Soon, the action flashes to Pfeiffer’s Ford and Anderson’s Roosevelt, as each FLOTUS fights to define her selfhood in a role that asks them to play second fiddle. Davis’ Obama, however, balks at the pressure she faces to become the “Black Martha Stewart,” insisting that she’ll be the one to “pick my team” and “choose my causes.”

As the trailer reaches back further into the past, Pfeiffer clashes with President Gerald Ford (Aaron Eckhart) as she spirals into substance abuse; raising awareness about addiction, of course, became one of the hallmarks of Ford’s legacy.

Anderson’s Roosevelt, meanwhile, insists on maintaining autonomy within her marriage to President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Kiefer Sutherland), as she embarks on a seemingly sexual relationship with her long-rumored lover Lorena Hickok, played by Lily Rabe.

“The First Lady” is a “reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House,” the official logline for the series reads. “In the government’s East Wing, many of history’s most impactful and world-changing decisions have been hidden from view, made by America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic First Ladies.”

Created by Aaron Cooley and executive produced by Susanne Bier (“The Undoing”), who will also directed the series, the anthology drama promises to chronicle the “personal and political lives of three unique, enigmatic women and their families, tracing their journeys to Washington, dipping into their pasts and following them beyond the White House into their greatest moments.”

In addition to the core trio and their respective husbands, the series also counts Dakota Fanning, Regina Taylor, Judy Greer, Ellen Burstyn, Jackie Earle Haley and Kate Mulgrew among its ensemble.

“The First Lady” premieres Sunday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

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