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The First lady: Fans point out strange mannerism Viola Davis incorporated when playing Michelle Obama

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Viola Davis has received mixed reactions for her portrayal of the former US First Lady Michelle Obama in new Showtime series The First Lady.

The actor stars alongside Gillian Anderson and Michelle Pfeiffer in the new drama that focuses on the reframing of American leadership through the lens of the women at the centre of the White House.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Davis admitted that she was “terrified” she would mess up her portrayal of “an icon”. But most importantly, she didn’t “want to insult [Obama]”.

“I gotta make the sister look good. I just hope that it lands with her,” she said.

However, as the series debuted on Sunday (17 April), viewers on Twitter were quick to criticise the way Davis pursed her lips in her characterisation of Obama.

“Michelle Obama did not purse her lips THAT much,” one user wrote. “What possessed Viola to think she should do that in every scene. I never thought I would see the day where Viola Davis gave a bad performance.”

Another tweeted: “Viola Davis should have tried to sound like Michelle Obama instead of copying Michelle’s mouth. It was hard to watch.”

“I love Viola Davis so I’m just going to pretend this entire episode didn’t happen in her career,” added one.

Some came to Davis’s defence however, with another fan writing: “Googling photos of Michelle Obama… I can see where viola was coming from.”

“Viola Davis, I’m stick beside her. Besides, y’all let Meryl get away with Big Little Lies, so y’all will let this slide. All great thespians have 1 cringe role, at least okay,” tweeted another viewer.

The First Lady airs on Sundays at 9pm ET on Showtime. It will arrive on Paramount Plus in the UK later this summer.

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