Viola Davis has finally spoken out about the criticism of her performance as Michelle Obama in new series The First Lady, and she’s pretty unbothered by the reaction.
The Oscar-winning actress portrays the former First Lady in the Showtime drama, which also stars Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford, following the achievements and challenges faced by the women throughout their time at the White House.
However, Viola’s turn as President Barack Obama’s wife hasn’t gone down well with many viewers, who have branded her performance ‘distracting’, ‘over-the-top’ and ‘ridiculous’.
Critics have particularly found fault with Viola’s impersonation of the way Mrs Obama tends to purse her lips in real life.
The How To Get Away With Murder actress has finally addressed the scrutiny and admits it’s not the reception she wanted.
‘[It is] incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work,’ Viola told BBC News.
She continued: ‘How do you move on from the hurt, from failure? But you have to. Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance.
‘Critics absolutely serve no purpose. And I’m not saying that to be nasty, either.
Viola added: ‘They always feel like they’re telling you something that you don’t know.
‘Somehow that you’re living a life that you’re surrounded by people who lie to you and “I’m going to be the person that leans in and tells you the truth”, so it gives them an opportunity to be cruel to you. But ultimately I feel like it is my job as a leader to make bold choices.
‘Win or fail it is my duty to do that.’
Mrs Obama was the first African American woman to serve as the First Lady in the White House, from 2009 until 2017, while her husband was President.
The Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star admitted she was ‘terrified’ about what Mrs Obama would think of her portrayal, and said she watched the former US first lady’s documentary Becoming at least 22 times in preparation.
The First Lady is available to stream on Showtime.