Democrat Activist Alfre Woodard to Play POTUS in NBC Drama

Yes, Hollywood is dreaming of a Hillary Clinton administration. But for now, they’re settling for installing a female liberal activist as a fictional president.  

Oscar and Emmy nominee Alfre Woodard will appear as president in NBC’s new political drama “State of Affairs,” The Hollywood Reporter noted last Friday. The show also stars Katherine Heigl as Charleston "Charlie" Whitney Tucker who serves as a legal briefer to Woodard’s character, President Roberta Payton. The part seems the perfect fit for Woodard, a Democrat activist in real life. 

Katherine Heigl, her mother/manager Nancy Heigl, Bob Simonds, Sophie Watts, Henry Crumpton, Julia Franz, Rodney Faraon and “The Following’s” Alexi Hawley will produce the show, written by Hawley and Joe Carnahan. Carnahan also directs the pilot (from Universal Television, Bob Simonds Co. and Abishag Productions). 

As far as her political experience in the real world, Woodard attended and performed at a dinner to raise money for Hillary Clinton’s New York senatorial campaign. A staunch Barack Obama supporter, Woodard hosted a summit during the Democratic National Convention in 2012. 

She’s even media savvy. For the 2010 midterm election, Woodard warned on the official “Obama for America” YouTube channel: “Don’t be discouraged by what you see on the television, on the airwaves. But be alarmed when you hear people say, ‘We’re taking our country back,’ because they mean back” (which she illustrates by pointing backwards). 

Woodard isn’t a newbie to NBC, having appeared in “Hill Street Blues,” “St. Elsewhere” and the Geena Davis sitcom “Sara.” She regularly acts in shows such as ABC's “Desperate Housewives,” TNT's “Memphis Beat” and CBS' “Three Rivers.” She most recently garnered attention for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” which won an Oscar for best picture. 

Entertainment media described the new NBC drama as “‘Scandal’ meets ‘The West Wing,’” which, according to entertainment news source Vulture’s “logic” means “President Payton will be some kind of a sage, deceitful, compassionate megalomaniac who may or not have an affair with Katherine Heigl's character.” While “Heigl's Tucker is the ex-girlfriend of the President's late son,” Vulture assumed, “if this show has one drop of Scandal in its blood, that means nothing about their potential erotic entanglement. Absolutely nothing.”

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.

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