In 2019, we first heard that Viola Davis would be portraying former (and forever) first lady Michelle Obama in an upcoming Showtime anthology series aptly titled, The First Lady.
After quite a wait, we finally know who will be portraying Barack Obama in the series. Variety has confirmed that O-T Fagbenle (The Handmaid’s Tale) will be cast as the 44th President of the United States, also known as Michelle’s husband.
Variety offers a refresher of what to expect from the show, including additional cast members in the series:
The show is described as a reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House. The first season will also star Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford, Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt, and Aaron Eckhart as President Gerald Ford.
In a December 2020 interview with The Graham Norton Show, Davis confirmed Mrs. Obama gave her blessing for the award-winning actress to assume her likeness in the series, but of course, Davis still had some trepidation.
“People love Michelle Obama,” she said. “They feel like they know her, they own her—and they do not want anything that is negative to touch her.”
Davis also noted she typically loves to find the “mess” in any character she portrays and then asked with a laugh, “How am I going to do that with Michelle Obama?”
Fanbengle seems pretty damn excited for a few reasons—two of those being that he’ll be portraying the former president and working opposite Davis.
“Not sure what’s more of an honor, playing @barackobama, doing a TV show honoring @michelleobama, or getting to work with the inspirational @violadavis,” the 40-year-old actor tweeted following the casting news. “Suffice to say I’m giving thanks and gonna give my best.”
In addition to the upcoming fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale, Fagbenle will be starring in the next Marvel franchise flick Black Widow alongside Scarlett Johanssen. Fagbenle’s other credits include Doctor Who, The Five, The Interceptor, Looking, As If. Plus, the multi-faceted entertainer has an original series he created, wrote, directed, composed, executive-produced and starred in called Maxxx (available on Hulu).
As for the Fagbenle-Davis on-screen pairing, I’m very curious to see how their chemistry plays out.