Viola Davis Transforms Into Michelle Obama In The The First Lady Trailer

Anything Viola does, she does it with passion and vigor, and I know she will do no less for this role,” Obama once said.

Viola Davis as Michelle Obama in 'The First Lady' TV series from Showtime.
Jackson Lee Davis/SHOWTIME

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That’s Viola Davis — not Michelle Obama — who you’re seeing in the new trailer for The First Lady. The Oscar winner will portray Obama, America’s first lady from 2009 to 2017, in Showtime’s new anthology series, which premieres April 17. She’s not the only major first lady transformation in store: Michelle Pfeiffer will play Betty Ford, and Gillian Anderson will portray Eleanor Roosevelt.

The First Lady intertwines the lives of the three first ladies, aiming to trace their journeys to and beyond the White House. O.T. Fagbenle will star opposite Davis as President Barack Obama, with Lexi Underwood and Saniyya Sidney playing their daughters Sasha and Malia. Aaron Eckhart is taking on President Gerald Ford, with Dakota Fanning starring as his and Betty’s daughter Susan.

Rounding out the A-list cast are Kiefer Sutherland as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Christopher Plummer as the older version of Roosevelt, Cailee Spaeny as his daughter Anna Eleanor, and Ellen Burstyn as his mother Sara Delano.

During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in March 2021, Davis opened up to about her preparations for the prestigious role, revealing that she was able to talk to Obama “for several hours,” but it still wasn’t enough to quell her nerves. “It's terrifying because ... sometimes someone doesn’t live up to whatever image you have in your head,” she explained. “But when they do live up to the image, it’s quite frightening.”

She went on to call the former first lady a “goddess,” and described her reaction to being offered the role. “I lost my damn mind for about five minutes and made a damn decision that I can’t take back,” she said, jokingly. “Everybody knows her, everybody feels like they want to protect her ... here’s the thing. I’m just gonna do the best I can.”

It seems that the love is mutual between them. That same month, Obama told Entertainment Tonight how thrilled she was that Davis would portray her. “I feel that I’m not worthy,” she said. “I wish I could be better to live up to the character that Viola has to play, but it’s exciting. Anything Viola does, she does it with passion and vigor, and I know she will do no less for this role.”