Viola Davis doesn’t care if you hate this part of her performance as Michelle Obama
In case you’re not familiar, mouth acting (like neck acting) is the practice of acting with one’s mouth. At about 1:59 of this video, you can see how Viola Davis uses the skill to enhance many of her roles. But not everyone is a fan.
In Showtime’s new series The First Lady, Viola plays Michelle Obama and exaggerates Mrs. Obama’s penchant for pursing her lips to a degree that some viewers find distracting. To those viewers, Viola has a few choice words, spoken through lips neither pursed nor acting.
“Critics absolutely serve no purpose,” she told the BBC. “I’m not saying that to be nasty either. They always feel like they’re telling you something that you don’t know. Somehow that you’re living a life that you’re surrounded by people who lie to you and ‘I’m going to be the person that leans in and tells you the truth.’ So it gives them an opportunity to be cruel to you. But ultimately I feel like it is my job as a leader to make bold choices. Win or fail, it is my duty to do that.”
The Oscar winner admitted that it can be “incredibly hurtful when people say negative things about your work,” and that varied reactions are an “occupational hazard.”
“How do you move on from the hurt, from failure?” Viola asked. “You have to. Not everything is going to be an awards-worthy performance.” (Agree to disagree! Everything you do is awardsy to us, Viola Davis.) Specifically, with someone as well-known as Michelle Obama, Viola said the task was “almost impossible,” reflecting, “either you’re doing too much or not enough.”
As for the woman who could be perhaps her toughest critic, the former first lady herself? No word on whether or not she’s even seen the show. “I don’t have any personal contact with Michelle Obama,” Viola said.
This article was originally published on Glamour.com.