Stepping into the shoes of a First Lady is bound to have its ups and downs, but as one of the most recent women in this position taught fans, a woman facing a challenge just has to go high when she's faced with a distressing low. Hopefully, Viola Davis' newest TV role will be nothing but a series of highs for her. Viola Davis will play Michelle Obama in First Ladies, a Showtime series set to focus on three former women of the White House.
For now, fans of the Oscar-winning Davis can receive a dose of her masterful acting every week on ABC's How to Get Away with Murder. With the drama slated to end after its upcoming sixth season, Davis will move from the courthouses of Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.'s most famous address. Variety reports that Showtime is currently developing the First Ladies drama series with a three-script commitment, aiming to focus on the personal and public lives of the women of the White House's East Wing. In addition to a focus on Obama, the show's creators plan to highlight Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford.
While the Chicago native became the first African-American First Lady, Ford made headlines in the 1970s for publicizing her struggles with breast cancer and addiction. And as First Lady during the Depression and World War II, Roosevelt fought for human rights, creating a legacy of power and public service for many of her successors to pursue. A possible second season of First Ladies has many other inspirational women to choose from, but these particular public figures feel worthy of this TV platform. Notably, the series marks the first time an actor will depict Obama on television, after Tika Sumpter played her in the film Southside With You.
On Twitter, Davis retweeted the news and wrote, "Proud to spotlight these brave, extraordinary women!" Casting for Ford and Roosevelt has yet to be announced, but Davis and husband Julius Tennon's production company JuVee is partnering with Lionsgate to oversee the drama, perhaps hinting that Davis will have a say in who her co-stars are. Whoever those ladies are, consider me a future fan of the golden trio they'll form with Davis.
Davis has previously explained her plans for the budding JuVee Productions, telling Variety, "If you look to the past and look at storytelling where there’s a huge deficit in terms of [people of color's] voice and our presence, that’s not a good place to start. What we have to fight for, and this is what I’m proud about with JuVee, is autonomy in storytelling and production and all of it."
This new series may have a historical aspect to it, ut something tells me First Ladies may go a step further than your typical history class. While Barack and Michelle Obama have begun their own production deal with Netflix, they've left their own story untouched onscreen, so First Ladies viewers will have to wait and see how the former First Couple feel about it. First Ladies has yet to announce a release date on Showtime, so until that happens, I'll be happily re-reading Michelle Obama's Becoming and playing Davis' interviews on repeat.