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Viola Davis opens up about hard childhood and Michelle Obama in new interview

The Oscar winner is truly an inspiration


viola davis michelle obama© Photo: Getty Images
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
April 14, 2022
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Viola Davis opened up in a new interview about her heartbreaking childhood and how someone like Michelle Obama inspired people who grew up like she did.

MORE: Viola Davis stuns fans with Michelle Obama transformation in first look at The First Lady

In conversation with the Wall Street Journal while promoting her show The First Lady, the actress talked about playing the former First Lady in the series.

VIDEO: Michelle Obama reveals what she took from the White House

"She was one of those first ladies that came in with big ideas," she said. "And I would say that the restrictions that were placed on her—not just being a first lady but [also] being a Black woman—were enormous."

She specifically also mentioned Michelle's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which President Obama had signed into law, talking about why she could relate to it.

MORE: Viola Davis dazzles in a showstopping neon dress that might be her best look yet

"I mention that because I was a kid who was hungry. I grew up in abject poverty. I dumpster-dived. I stole money for food," Viola shared. 

"And I think Michelle Obama, coming from the South Side of Chicago, was very aware of [that kind of poverty]."

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Viola is slated to portray Michelle in the upcoming series

The Oscar winner also shared what it was like for her to actually meet the Obamas, saying: "I consider myself to have more angst, and I come from a place of feeling like, "You better see me; I'm not invisible.' 

"But when you're in their presence, they absolutely know their worth, they're in their bodies, and they're present. They take you in—in a way that's actually surprising. [Michelle] has decoded you in two seconds. All the best broads I know do that."

MORE: Michelle Obama speaks out about Viola Davis playing her in upcoming TV biopic

MORE: Viola Davis proves she's aging backward with jaw-dropping hair transformation

The anthology drama will be analyzing the lives of three White House First Ladies, those being Michelle, Eleanor Roosevelt, played by Gillian Anderson, and Michelle Pfeiffer portraying Betty Ford.

According to Showtime: "The series will peel back the curtain on the personal and political lives of three unique, enigmatic women and their families, tracing their journeys to Washington, dipping into their pasts and following them beyond the White House into their greatest moments.

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The series will portray the lives of three First Ladies of the United States

"Through interweaving storylines so intimate it's as if the White House walls are talking, season one focuses on the enlightening lives of Michelle Obama, Betty Ford and Eleanor Roosevelt."

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