Showtime’s First Ladies series casts Viola Davis as Michelle Obama. The one hour White House drama has been ordered for a three-script commitment. Placed on the development fast track at Showtime, the series looks to provide a riveting look at the position of First Lady and those who've filled the role.
Hailed as one of Hollywood’s finest, Davis’ formidable career has spanned two decades, with roles in iconic films like The Help, Suicide Squad, Widows, and Fences - the film that snagged her an Oscar win. Not limiting her talents to the big screen, Davis’ work has stood out in her roles in television series Traveler, United States of Tara, and ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder. Recently, Netflix revealed Denzel Washington's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom cast Davis as the title character. Davis shows no signs of slowing down, as it's been announced that she's adding a biopic portrayal to her already packed roster.
According to Variety, First Ladies will take a look at historical American presidencies through a female lens. The anthology series will focus on the personal and political lives of the country’s most high-profile spouses, with season 1 following Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama. Davis has been tapped to portray Obama. Showtime promises to shine a spotlight on the famous titular women with a logline revealing, “In the East Wing of the White House, 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.”
First Ladies is in the creative hands of Davis, who'll executive produce under the banner of her and partner Julius Tennon’s company JuVee productions. Novelist Aaron Cooley is also onboard to executive produce, and has been tapped as screenwriter. Cathy Schulman, Jeff Gaspin, and Brad Kaplan round out the producing team. Lionsgate TV will co-produce with Showtime, and work fervently to bring the three-show commitment to a full series order. First Ladies could join Showtime’s scripted roster that includes Billions, Shameless, The L Word, and much more. As production gets closer, more details will be revealed, including the pivotal casting choices of Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and perhaps presidential husbands Barack Obama, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Gerald Ford.
With 45 U.S. first ladies in history, there's a plethora of material to derive from for First Ladies. Not limited to selecting the White Houses’ china pattern, first ladies have tackled social issues including drug abuse, women’s rights, literacy, and physical fitness. Davis is the most qualified individual to portray the groundbreaking, compelling, and mystifying story of Michelle Obama’s time as First Lady. With an enthralling topic suitable for an anthology series and Davis’ star power, First Ladies will likely be a massive success for Showtime.