The Cast For The Michelle Obama-Based TV Series 'First Ladies' Is Looking Pretty Incredible

Becky Burgum
·5-min read
Photo credit: Mark Wilson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mark Wilson - Getty Images

From ELLE

Michelle Obama is coming to the small screen and no, this is not a drill.

First Ladies is the new TV show featuring the former first lady's first TV portrayal, and though her sparkly Balenciaga boots will be hard to fill, we've got a feeling the Oscar-winning actress announced to play her will bring the (White) House down.

There's been a hole in our hearts since House of Cards ended after season six in 2018 and now First Ladies is here to delve into the lives of the women working alongside US presidents (hopefully without all the House of Cards death cover-ups and train pushing drama).

From Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (Jackie O) to Eleanor Roosevelt, first ladies have left a mark almost as big as their spouses, some becoming feminist figures and others narrowly missing out on the Oval Office themselves.

Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images

'I'm a former first lady, and former presidents and first ladies show up,' Hillary Clinton famously said on CBS Sunday Morning to explain her attendance at President Trump's inauguration in 2017 following her crushing defeat in the presidential election.

Oscar-winning Susanne Bier, known for Nicole Kidman hit drama The Undoing and The Night Manager, will direct.

'Susanne is a visionary director who commands the screen with fierce honesty and a singular visual style,' said Amy Israel, Showtime's executive VP scripted programming, to the Hollywood Reporter.

Here's everything you need to know about First Ladies:

What is the plot of First Ladies?

Giving us a break from West Wing plots of men-making-important-decisions (from the Oval Office to the Cabinet Room), each hour-long episode of First Ladies will turn its lens to the East Wing of the White House – the presidential home.

Photo credit: Handout - Getty Images
Photo credit: Handout - Getty Images

The first season will tell the story of three presidential wives – Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Obama – focusing on the roles they played in shaping world-changing decisions during their time in the White House.

Novelist Aaron Cooley (Four Seats: A Thriller of the Supreme Court, The Guns of Ridgewood), is set to executive produce the series along with Cathy Schulman’s Welle Entertainment (Otherhood), Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions, Jeff Gaspin’s Gaspin Media (LA’s Finest) and Brad Kaplan (The Intruder).

'Throughout our history, presidents' spouses have wielded remarkable influence,' says Showtime president of entertainment Jana Winograde in a statement, 'not only on the nation's leaders but on the country itself.

Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: Pool - Getty Images

'First Ladies fits perfectly within the Showtime wheelhouse of drama and politics, revealing how much personal relationships impact both domestic and global events,' she continues.

Who will star in First Ladies?

Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder, Fences The Help, Widows) was the first cast member to announce they're teaming up with the series. Davis – who is set to play Obama – will also executive produce the series along with her husband, actor Julius Tennon.

Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

As the first Black actor to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting (having won an Oscar, Emmy and a Tony award), there is no doubt that Davis will do Obama justice. The 54-year-old is one of the many Hollywood actresses (eg Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman) experimenting with more television projects in order to create better, more fleshed out roles for women.

Winograde said that Davis playing Obama is a 'dream come true', and the actress recently took to Twitter to say that she was 'so proud' to be 'honouring and elevating these powerful, worthy Queens'.

Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit, Murder on the Orient Express) stars as Betty Ford, the first lady from 1974-77 during Gerald Ford's presidency, one of the most politically active first ladies in history. She raised awareness of addiction and substance abuse by going public with her own alcoholism. To this day, and her name is still lent to a treatment and rehabilitation centre for alcohol and drug abuse in California, on which she used to sit on the board.

Another acting powerhouse added to the show comes in the form of The Crown and Sex Education favourite, Gillian Anderson, who joins the cast as Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest serving first lady in history. Roosevelt served between 1933-45, and was the first presidential spouse to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column and host a weekly radio show. She became the first United States delegate at the United Nations after pushing the country to join.

'With these formidable artists in front of and behind the camera, we couldn't be more thrilled — especially at this unique moment in time for our nation — about the powerful promise of The First Lady,' says Amy Israel, Showtime's executive VP scripted programming, to the Hollywood Reporter.

When is the release date for First Ladies?

There's no release date as of yet, but it'll be straight-to-series, meaning it's binge watch-approved.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images

In the meantime, keep an eye out for Netflix content by Michelle and Barack Obama who have announced a new slate of shows and documentaries following their multi-year deal with the streaming service to produce their own series, films and documentaries, like their Oscar-winning American Factory documentary.

In 2016, the couple announced a new venture into film production under the company name Higher Ground Productions.

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