Jayme Lawson Is A Star On The Rise
At just 23 years old, Jayme Lawson is winning the kinds of roles actors dream of. Her latest project is playing Michelle Obama on Showtime’s forthcoming The First Lady, Aaron Cooler’s anthology series which tells the lesser-known stories of the women behind presidents, from Mrs. Obama to Betty Ford to Laura Bush. Lawson admits that the gravity of the part can be nerve-wracking, at times. It’s “the iconic, beloved Michelle Obama,” she says. But her research in preparation for the role—reading Becoming, watching interviews, and bingeing Mrs. Obama’s podcast—helped put her nerves at ease. “I have the luxury of getting to play her before she was ever known to the public. There’s some freedom in that, as an actress,” Lawson says. Here, she is photographed gleaming in gold while holding the FENDI First clutch—a centerpiece of the brand’s Fall/Winter21 collection and creative director Kim Jones’ first bag for the luxury house.
Born in Washington, D.C., Lawson started performing in elementary school when her mother signed her up for a local theater camp. At the time, she saw it as a creative outlet. It wasn’t until high school, where Lawson was exposed to the works of iconic 20th-century Black playwrights like Lorraine Hansberry, George C. Wolfe, and August Wilson, that she began to consider acting as a potential career. As Lawson says, “It became clear to me that being an actor and an artist, you could also be an activist with your art.”
She has proven she can keep up with industry veterans. Next March, she’ll appear as mayoral candidate Bella Reál in Matt Reeves’ pitch-black take on the superhero flick, The Batman, starring alongside Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz. Lawson once again found herself drawing from reality to inform her performance. “Gotham, as has been made evidently clear in the past few years, is very real: The level of distrust in government, the level of corruption,” she says. “[Bella] automatically becomes identifiable, because the world of Gotham that we get introduced to becomes identifiable.” Now that the world is reopening, Lawson looks forward to starting new projects and returning to old passions like theater—and the Washington native isn’t wasting a second. She’s even found similarities between Mrs. Obama’s determination and her own work ethic. “We’re both box-checkers,” she says, noting that they share an instinct for avoiding the spotlight. But with her magnetic on-screen presence, you feel like Jayme Lawson is on a fast-track to the world stage.
Makeup Tyron Machhausen (The Wall Group)
Hair Cheryl Bergamy (Exclusive Artists)
Manicure Yukie Miyakawa (SEE Manegement)
Digital technician Jason Riker
Photo assistant Siggy Bodolai
Location Liberty Studio