Showtime’s The First Lady is not your typical political drama. Rather than tell the usual male-dominated saga from the halls of the West Wing, the new series, as the title suggests, looks through the lens of three trailblazing women who made the most of their time in the White House: Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Betty Ford. According to Deadline, the show “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.”
Starring Viola Davis, Gillian Anderson, and Michelle Pfeiffer, The First Lady was created by Aaron Cooley, show-run by Cathy Schulman (Crash), and directed by Susanne Bier (The Undoing). Schulman and Bier are also executive producers alongside Davis and others.
Ahead of The First Lady’s 10-episode series premiere tonight, we’re taking a closer look at the A-list cast and the historical figures they’re bringing to life.
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Viola Davis as Michelle Obama
Is there anyone more fit to portray Michelle Obama than the Viola Davis? The Oscar and Emmy winner (for Fences and How to Get Away with Murder, respectively) transforms into the former first lady, who served in the White House from 2009 to 2017 and championed causes like nutrition and education for girls.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford
After building an impressive resume (that includes Scarface, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Batman Returns), the legendary Michelle Pfeiffer takes on former first lady Betty Ford for her next role. Serving from 1974 to 1977, Ford was a known supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt
The X-Files and Sex Education star is no stranger to playing historical figures; in season 4 of The Crown, she portrayed the “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher. Now, she’ll play Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving U.S. first lady (1933-1945), who transformed the role into a more active one and was a staunch champion of women’s rights.
O-T Fagbenle as Barack Obama
Best known for playing Luke in The Handmaid’s Tale, Fagbenle steps up to the challenge of portraying America’s historic 44th president, Barack Obama.
Kiefer Sutherland as Franklin D. Roosevelt
The former 24 star portrays Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led the country through the Great Depression while World War II raged on outside its borders.
Aaron Eckhart as Gerald Ford
With credits including The Dark Knight, Erin Brockovich, and Thank You for Smoking, Eckhart portrays Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon’s vice president who took on the presidency after his superior resigned post-Watergate.
Lexi Underwood as Malia Obama
You’ve seen her as Kerry Washington’s onscreen daughter in Little Fires Everywhere. Now, newcomer Lexi Underwood finds a new onscreen mom in Viola Davis as she plays Michelle and Barack Obama’s oldest daughter, Malia.
Saniyya Sidney as Sasha Obama
Playing younger Obama daughter Sasha is Saniyya Sidney, who recently starred as Venus Williams in the Oscar-nominated King Richard.
Dakota Fanning as Susan Ford
Fanning starred in Uptown Girls and War of the Worlds in her younger years and One Upon a Time…in Hollywood and The Alienist as an adult. In The First Lady, she’ll portray Susan Ford, daughter of Betty and Gerald R. Ford.
Cailee Spaeny as Anna Roosevelt
In her last TV role, Cailee Spaeny portrayed Mare of Easttown’s central victim, Erin McMenamin, opposite Kate Winslet. Next, she’ll play Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s only daughter, Anna.
Eliza Scanlen as Young Eleanor Roosevelt
Eliza Scanlen, known for roles in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (Beth) and HBO’s Sharp Objects, plays a younger version of Anderson’s Eleanor Roosevelt.
Kristine Froseth as Young Betty Ford
Kristine Froseth has come up on YA series like the Hulu’s Looking for Alaska and Netflix’s Sierra Burgess Is a Loser and The Society. The First Lady finds her playing Betty Fordin her younger years.
Jayme Lawson as Young Michelle Obama
Young Michelle Obama will be played by Juilliard grad Jayme Lawson, who recently shared the screen with Robert Pattinson in The Batman.
Regina Taylor as Marian Robinson
Regina Taylor, who has starred in TV series like I’ll Fly Away and The Unit (she also had a role in Lovecraft Country), plays Marian Lois Robinson, Michelle Obama’s mother.
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