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Showtime, Getty Images

Viola Davis opened up about the criticism to her cringe-worthy portrayal of former first lady Michelle Obama in Showtime's TV series, The First Lady.

Social media users dogged the Oscar winner for exaggerating Obama's facial expressions in the series premiere.
 
RELATED: Viola Davis was ‘absolutely terrified’ playing Michelle Obama in new TV series
 
In an earlier interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Davis, 56, said she was "nervous" and "terrified" while playing Michelle, 58.

"There's a lot of fear that I messed up my portrayal of Michelle Obama," Davis said at the series' premiere screening on April 14.

"She's an icon. Everyone knows what she looks like and what she sounds like so I am absolutely terrified. But I'm mostly terrified about what she will think. I don't want to insult her and have her calling me. I gotta make the sister look good."

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Screencap: YouTube

But outraged viewers called Davis's portrayal "insulting" and "offensive." They also faulted the director for not instructing her to tone down her facial expressions.

One person tweeted: "They set Viola Davis up by allowing her keep her mouth that way throughout the filming. It's so cringey and distracting [sic]."

Davis was not apologetic in her comments to BBC News.

"Critics absolutely serve no purpose. And I'm not saying that to be nasty either," she told BBC News.

"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."

Davis suggested it wasn't easy playing Mrs. Obama. In fact, she said it was "almost impossible" to portray the wife of former President Barack Obama.

"Either you're doing too much or not enough," she said.

Davis acknowledged she has not heard from Michelle. "I don't have any personal contact with Michelle Obama," she said.

Despite Davis's confident stance, friends described the 56-year-old as "Devastated" by the criticism.
 

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Showtime

Viola Davis is reportedly "devastated" by the public's reaction to her honest portrayal of Michelle Obama in a new Showtime series that debuted on Sunday, April 17.

Black Twitter users continue to drag the Oscar winner after her "insulting" portrayal of the former first lady in "The First Lady."

Davis stars alongside actors Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt in the TV series that documents the personal lives of former first ladies.

Twitter users were outraged over Davis' "offensive" and "distracting" portrayal after episode 1 aired on Sunday.

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Screencap: YouTube

For some reason, Davis pursed her lips and made strange facial expressions while playing the wife of former President Barack Obama.

In an earlier interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Davis, 56, said she was "nervous" and "terrified" about playing Michelle, 58.

"There's a lot of fear that I messed up my portrayal of Michelle Obama," Davis said at the series' premiere screening on April 14.

"She's an icon. Everyone knows what she looks like and what she sounds like so I am absolutely terrified. But I'm mostly terrified about what she will think. I don't want to insult her and have her calling me. I gotta make the sister look good."

However, viewers say Davis reduced Michelle Obama to a cartoon caricature.

One Twitter user wrote: "Idc how great of an actress Viola Davis is, she 100% deserves everything she’s getting right now for this portrayal."

Another user tweeted: "Don't be getting defensive when them yt folks start dragging viola Davis for that role... y'all opened the door for disrespect."

And a third person wrote: "Crazy everyone was hype about Viola Davis playing the role of Michelle Obama but the only thing that’s been getting highlighted are her damn lips... they did Michelle wrong."