Viola Davis Dismisses Critics of Her ‘First Lady’ Performance

Viola Davis in Showtime's 'The First Lady' as Michelle Obama. Credit: Showtime

Viola Davis has zero interest in the opinions of people criticizing her performance as Michelle Obama in Showtime’s The First Lady.

The Academy Award-winning actress told the BBC the criticism is “incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work.”

“They feel like they’re telling you what you don’t know like ‘oh you’re surrounded by people who lie to you and I’m going to be the person who leans in and tells you the truth,’” Davis said about television critics in general. “It gives them an opportunity to be cruel.”

“The thing about critics is they serve absolutely no purpose,” she continued.

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The actress noted playing someone in the current public eye is difficult to do.

“People know how they walk, how they talk and how they hold their pearls, so it’s very difficult,” she said.

Some of the criticism also came from social media users.

Journalist @MoeChanda wrote: “I love #ViolaDavis but the facial expressions and exaggerated lip work…uhmmm, no. #MichelleObama #TheFirstLady”

@Brigit82642248 tweeted: “I hope #ViolaDavis and the director of The First Lady drama series sees all these comments about her OTT lip movements and sees the error of their ways. VD literally makes a mockery of Michelle Obama in this series, what a poorly-executed portrayal.”

@SimplyMeRKW wrote: “Man, I tried watching #FirstLady and I love #ViolaDavis, but the way she’s holding her lips is so darn distracting. Irritating even. I simply don’t understand the purpose behind that…why? Yeah, y’all can have that lil series. I’m gonna pass on it.”

The series follows the lives of three first ladies including Eleanor Roosevelt, played by Gillian Anderson, and Betty Ford, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.

The First Lady airs new episodes every Sunday on Showtime.