Viola Davis Addresses Backlash Over Her Michelle Obama Portrayal: ‘How Do You Move on From Failure?’

by Yah Yah

Viola Davis’ portrayal of Michelle Obama on Showtime’s “The First Lady” has come under heavy criticism, and in a recent interview, she addressed the backlash.

Speaking to BBC News, Davis admitted that it is “incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work.”

“How do you move on from the hurt, from failure?” she said. “But you have to. Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance.”

“The First Lady” is a revelatory reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House. The series peels back the curtain on 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. Through interweaving storylines so intimate it’s as if the White House walls are talking, season one focuses on the enlightening lives of Michelle Obama, Betty Ford and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Davis is one of the most revered actresses of our time, but viewers were left stunned by her portrayal of Obama. The biggest criticism being Davis’ depiction of Obama’s poses and facial expressions.

“Critics absolutely serve no purpose. And 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,” she continued. “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. But ultimately 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 series also stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt, with O-T Fagbenle portraying Barack Obama.

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