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Viola Davis to play Michelle Obama in series

/ 12:30 AM August 30, 2019
Viola Davis to play Michelle Obama in series

Viola Davis (left) and Michelle Obama

LOS ANGELES—Viola Davis is set to portray Michelle Obama in a Showtime series under development about America’s first ladies.

Davis is also an executive producer on the project, which Showtime said on Monday will “peel back the curtain” on the lives of presidential spouses. The first season will focus on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Obama.

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Showtime said it’s committed to three scripts for the proposed series.

Former President Barack Obama and his wife launched their own production company in 2018, and have announced deals with Netflix and Spotify.

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The Obamas made their recent Hollywood debut with a documentary set in industrial Ohio that film reviewers are calling compelling and timely.

“American Factory,” the story of what happened when a Chinese company took over an abandoned General Motors plant, is the first product of a multiyear collaboration between Netflix and Higher Ground, the production company formed last year by the former US president and first lady.

“A good story gives you the chance to better understand someone else’s life. It can help you find common ground. And it’s why Michelle and I were drawn to Higher Ground’s first film,” Obama said in a Twitter posting on Wednesday.

The documentary traces the lives of thousands of workers laid off from their auto jobs in Moraine, Ohio, in the 2008 recession, some of whom were hired six years later by Chinese company Fuyao Glass America to make automotive glass in the same plant.

The Washington Post called “American Factory,” which arrived on Netflix recently, “a perfect vehicle for (Higher Ground’s) mission to lift up stories from underrepresented groups.”

“We want people to be able to get outside of themselves and experience and understand the lives of somebody else,” Obama told filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar in a promotional video released by Netflix.

Michelle told the filmmakers she was particularly struck by the opening scenes of workers on the factory floor.

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“That was my background, that was my father,” she said.

“One of the many things I love about this film … is that you let people tell their own story. “American Factory’ doesn’t come in with a perspective; it’s not an editorial.”

The Los Angeles Times called the documentary “compelling,” and pop culture website Vox.com said it was “a fascinating peek into the challenges of globalization.” It received a 97-percent approval rate on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. —AP AND REUTERS

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