Who Should Play Michelle Obama?

A new Hillary Clinton TV miniseries inspired The Root to speculate about who could portray the current first lady.

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    Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

    This week, news broke that Hillary Clinton would be the subject of a new television miniseries. Academy Award nominee Diane Lane is scheduled to portray her in NBC’s four-hour series Hillary. Lane isn’t the only Hollywood star who has been talked about in relation to a Clinton movie. Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Chastain were once rumored to have been in the running to portray the former first lady in a biopic about her younger years.

    All of which raises the question: Who would play Michelle Obama in a film about her life? Here is our list of possible contenders. Let us know who you think we missed.

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    Taraji P. Henson

    Age: 42

    Claim to fame: Henson conveys a mixture of toughness and grace that could make her a shoo-in to portray the first lady. She also enjoys a measure of popularity in urban cinema and highbrow Hollywood that would likely land her on any producer’s Obama-biopic short list. She starred in the films Baby Boy and Hustle & Flow but also earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in 2009’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

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    Regina King

    Age: 42

    Claim to fame: King made a transition that few performers do, going from adorable young star of the sitcom 227 to respected adult dramatic actress. She portrayed Cuba Gooding Jr.’s wife in the blockbuster Jerry Maguire in the 1990s and recently portrayed a police officer in the gritty, critically acclaimed TV drama Southland.

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    Angela Bassett

    Age: 54

    Claim to fame: Bassett is one of the most honored African-American actresses ever, earning multiple Emmy nominations and an Academy Award nod for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It. Obama could become another in a long line of real-life sheroes whom Bassett has portrayed, from Tina Turner to Betty Shabazz and Rosa Parks. But she may have the most in common with Obama, starting with their Ivy League pedigrees (Bassett graduated from Yale) and amazing arms.

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    Kimberly Elise

    Age: 46

    Claim to fame: Just three years younger than the first lady, Elise has worked steadily for the last two decades. She first came to national attention in 1996 in the classic bank-heist film Set It Off and also appeared in Oprah Winfrey’s Beloved. More recently, she was in Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls in 2010.

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    Kerry Washington

    Age: 36

    Claim to fame: Featured in films like Ray and The Last King of Scotland, Washington has not been shy in expressing her admiration for the first family and the first lady in particular. She campaigned tirelessly for President Obama and specifically said that she would have passed on her hit series, the politically charged Scandal, had the commander in chief — whom Washington’s character, Olivia Pope, has an affair with — been black. “I didn’t want to do anything that compromised my relationship with the [president] or that made it seem like I had an insider view on the Obama presidency.” So maybe she would consider depicting Michelle only with the first lady’s blessing.

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    Wendy Raquel Robinson

    Age: 46

    Claim to fame: Though best known for her work on comedic programs like The Steve Harvey Show, her recent storyline as Tasha Mack in The Game has allowed her to flex her dramatic chops.

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    Viola Davis

    Age: 47

    Claim to fame: Davis is one of the most respected black actresses working today. In 2001 she earned a Tony Award for her performance in August Wilson’s King Hedley II and another in 2010 for her performance in his play Fences. She also earned an Academy Award nomination for her 11-minute performance in the film Doubt, opposite Meryl Streep, and another for her appearance in The Help in 2011.

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    Sanaa Lathan

    Age: 41

    Claim to fame: With her appearances in films like The Best Man, Lathan will probably always be identified as a member of Hollywood’s so-called Black Pack of young, fun black actors who made classic romantic films in the late ’90s and early 2000s. But she has also earned serious credibility as a dramatic actress, earning a Tony nomination for her role in A Raisin in the Sun in 2004.

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    Gabrielle Union

    Age: 40

    Claim to fame: With her youthful looks, Union could easily transition between portraying Michelle Obama in college and during her White House years. Union made her mark in teen films like Bring It On but now stars in the buzzed-about new BET drama Being Mary Jane.

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    Vanessa A. Williams

    Age: 50

    Claim to fame: The former Melrose Place star has experience portraying tough, attractive, brown-skinned wives and mothers. She starred as Maxine Chadway in the TV series Soul Food for four years.

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