Viola Davis is not allowing the criticism for her recent portrayal of Former First Lady Michelle Obama gets to her.
Despite the fact that she did say it is “incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work,” the “How To Get Away with Murder” actress understands that it’s all a part of the business. Yet, and still, the comments won’t get to her.
The chatter that Davis is referring to includes the public’s response to her role as Michelle Obama in Showtime’s new series “The First Lady.” It is a drama series that follows what American leadership looks like through the lens of the First Ladies. Alongside Davis is Michelle Pfeiffer who plays Betty Ford as well as Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Critics absolutely serve no purpose,” said Davis. “And I’m not saying that to be nasty either. 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.”
The response to Davis’ method of “mouth acting”— where she acts using her mouth with a focus on exaggerating Michelle Obama’s tendency to purse her lips—have been labeled as distracting by some viewers.
Reflecting on stepping into such big shoes, Davis says it will always be damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
She explained how morphing into someone as elite as the former First Lady is “almost impossible” because “either you’re doing too much or not enough.”
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