Jayne Atkinson steps into Ann Richards\u2019 shoes for \u201cAnn\u201d \u2014 though she doesn\u2019t have to do everything backwards. (David Dashiell) Comb through Jayne Atkinson\u2019s IMDb page and you would be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled upon the r\u00e9sum\u00e9 of a uniquely qualified presidential candidate. Who else in the congested 2020 field can say they\u2019ve served as a Homeland Security official (\u201c24\u201d), the secretary of state (\u201cHouse of Cards\u201d) and the vice president of the United States (\u201cMadam Secretary\u201d)? So it comes as no surprise that Atkinson would gravitate to the role of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards in the play \u201cAnn,\u201d which begins a monthlong run at Arena Stage on Thursday. While Richards died in 2006 at age 73, Atkinson sees the feisty feminist\u2019s spirit alive and well in modern politics, particularly when she turns an eye to the race for the Democratic nomination for president. \u201cIt was so interesting to me watching that second Democratic debate [last month], and how Kamala Harris came out swinging,\u201d Atkinson says of the California senator, who confronted former Vice President Joe Biden about his record on racial issues. \u201cThat\u2019s straight-up Ann Richards.\u201d \u201cAnn\u201d provides an intimate depiction of Richards, the glass ceiling-shattering Democrat who served as governor in deep red Texas from 1991 to 1995. Emmy winner Holland Taylor wrote and originally starred in the one-woman play, which premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2011 before a 2013 run on Broadway. Atkinson took on the role at the WAM Theatre in Lenox, Mass., last fall before signing on for this new iteration, a co-production of Arena Stage and the Dallas Theater Center, where the show will debut in October. \u201cIt\u2019s an insane thing to do a one-woman show,\u201d Atkinson says. \u201cWhat kind of ego does a person have to have? Well, I\u2019ll claim it, but it\u2019s because, as [Richards] says, I know life isn\u2019t fair. \u2026 I sort of see it as my civic duty to put myself in the line of fire onstage \u2014 which I love so much, but it\u2019s much more up close and personal [than TV] \u2014 and have people hear her again.\u201d [6 things to do in D.C. from July 11-17] The play explores Richards\u2019 progressive worldview while depicting her life balancing duties as a public servant and mother of four. In the midst of the #MeToo movement and a surge in female representation in Congress, Atkinson relished the idea of revisiting Richards\u2019 legacy in a town where \u201ceverybody and their mother and brother from both sides of the aisle probably will be coming to see this show.\u201d \u201cWatching a woman juggle hearth, home, government and relationships in office is a wonderful example to see right now,\u201d Atkinson says. \u201cThe women\u2019s movement is re-energized and bringing us back to the stage, where we should\u2019ve been all that time ago when she was fighting.\u201d Although Atkinson acknowledges she isn\u2019t perceived as a comedic actor, she jumped at the opportunity to channel Richards\u2019 famously wry sense of humor. To help pin down Richards\u2019 mannerisms and Texas twang, the 60-year-old actress went down a YouTube rabbit hole of interviews and speeches \u2014 most notably, the politician\u2019s address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention that included the iconic quip, \u201cGinger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.\u201d \u201cYou get on into the Texas accent, and you just lay it out and you say things without a smile that are really funny, which she would do all the time,\u201d Atkinson says. \u201cI\u2019m a funny woman, and nobody ever gets to see that because I play all of these hard-ass be-otches \u2014 I say that with pride.\u201d The role already has left a lasting impression on Atkinson, who says she\u2019s partially basing her next TV character, a lawyer in the NBC drama series \u201cBluff City Law,\u201d on Richards. While recent musical biopics \u201cBohemian Rhapsody\u201d and \u201cRocketman\u201d aren\u2019t exactly works one would expect to discuss alongside \u201cAnn,\u201d Atkinson draws parallels. Richards, in her mind, was a different breed of rock star \u2014 but one just as worthy of a retrospective. \u201cI think her voice is so important now for a whole new generation of people who don\u2019t know who she was,\u201d Atkinson says. \u201cI love that, like Queen and Elton John, now we have Ann Richards.\u201d Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW; Thu. through Aug. 11, $41-$95.