A new Showtime anthology series, “First Ladies,” is already generating buzz, even as it is being written. That’s because, according to multiple reports, acclaimed actress Viola Davis will appear as first lady Michelle Obama. The show will explore the public and private lives of first ladies throughout American history.
The premium network’s East Wing drama is to be written by novelist Aaron Cooley. In addition to Obama, the first season will feature Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford, both of whom have yet to be cast.
This project is the first Davis has booked publicly since ABC announced last month that “How to Get Away With Murder,” in which she plays antihero Annalise Keating, will end after its upcoming sixth season. Davis won an Emmy for the role in 2015, making her the first woman of color to win an Emmy in the leading actress category.
The actress and her husband, Julius Tennon, are among the executive producers of “First Ladies,” which will appear under their JuVee Productions banner. Representatives for Davis and JuVee (which also has a first-look feature deal with Amazon) did not immediately return The Washington Post’s request for comment.
In January, the actress tweeted old photos of herself and “The Help” co-star Octavia Spencer alongside the former first lady. “Happy birthday to the Queen! My sis! My image of grace and beauty and intelligence!!" Davis wrote.
While Obama was memorably portrayed by Tika Sumpter in the 2016 feature film “Southside With You,” about her Chicago romance with former president Barack Obama, she has never before been fictionalized on television. The first couple themselves signed a multi-project production deal with Netflix last year and last week appeared in a video to promote the first joint venture: “American Factory,” a documentary about a Chinese glass-manufacturing company that took over a former General Motors plant in Ohio.