Film & TV

Viola Davis on How Personal Trauma Makes Portraying Michelle Obama "Interesting"

For her role in Showtime’s ‘The First Lady.’

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Viola Davis on How Personal Trauma Makes Portraying Michelle Obama "Interesting"

For her role in Showtime’s ‘The First Lady.’

Viola Davis opened up about playing Michelle Obama in Showtime’s The First Lady and how the Chicago native differs from herself.

“Here’s the thing about Michelle Obama, which is very different from me, different from a lot of people: she’s healthy,” the actor recently told The Guardian. “She’s a healthy human being, because she grew up in an environment where she always felt seen, always felt worthy. Maybe because I’ve been with a lot of artists in my life, a lot of people who’ve been traumatized, including myself, it’s very interesting to portray someone who literally is healthy.”

To prepare for her portrayal of Obama, Davis watched the documentary Becoming at least 22 times. She also listened to hundreds of her podcasts, read her and Barack Obama‘s books and even spent time with her. Despite all the preparation, David admitted she’s “terrified” about what the former First Lady will think of her portrayal of her.

In the interview, Davis also touched on how acting is a “healing wellspring” profession. “In order to break generational curses, you have to become aware yourself, accountable yourself, and share your stories to the generation coming behind you,” she explained.  “I think that’s one of the reasons why we work so hard. It’s motivated by trauma, and it’s motivated by the fact that if we stop, then somehow we’re not worthy. That’s not true. You’re worthy. You were worthy when you were born.”

The first episode of The First Lady is currently streaming on Showtime with new episodes premiering on Sundays.

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