Michelle Obama officially released the debut episode of her new podcast and the first guest was none other than her husband, our former president, Barack Obama. The two got together for a lengthy conversation—their first publicized one-on-one talk—all about our relationship to our communities and our country.
“Sometimes this relationship might be a source of fulfillment or meaning or joy,” Michelle says in the episode. “Other times, it might provoke questions that we don’t quite know the answer to. What we’re really talking about is our place in this world, how we feel about it and what we can do with the power we have.” Below, some of the highlights from their conversation:
On how our perception of community affects our politics
The two began by discussing the communities in which they were raised—Michelle in Chicago and Barack in both Indonesia and Hawaii—and how they both grew up with the idea that communities provide structures that help families succeed.
Michelle says to Barack, “One of the reasons I fell in love with you is because you are guided by the principle that we are each other’s brother’s and sister’s keepers, and that’s how I was raised. My values, in terms of what I think my obligation—my personal obligation, Michelle Obama—is that it is not enough that I succeed on my own…if something good happens to you, if you have an advantage, you don’t hoard it. You share it. You reach out. You give back.”
They discussed how costly changes in our country have led to people focusing more intently on their singular success. “You then have all these institutions that used to be support systems shrinking,” Barack says. “So more and more, people start thinking in terms of ‘me.'”
On the legacy they want to leave behind for Sasha and Malia
Toward the end of the episode, Barack shares what he and Michelle most want to give their daughters. He explains, “Maybe one thing everybody can take away from this podcast, relative to the other shows and guests that you are going have on, is just that you can isolate healthy friendships, marriages, parenting that goes on from the communities that they are in. All these relationships are valuable by themselves, but they thrive, they prosper when the whole society is reinforcing these relationships. When you and I think about, ‘What’s the inheritance that we would like to leave Malia and Sasha?’ More than anything, what it would be is that they are living in a country that respects everybody and looks after everybody, celebrates and sees everybody. ‘Cause we know that if we’re not around, [if] those girls are in a society like that, they’ll be fine.”
On the notion of “having it all”
“I think that culturally, we become much more focused on stuff and much less focused on relationships and family,” Barack says in the show. “And part of being an adult, part of being a citizen is you give something up.”
Michelle then shares what she says when she talks to young mothers who ask, “How do I have it all?”
“The motto has become not that you sacrifice, but you should be able to have it all,” she says. “And how do you get it? And if you’re not getting it, then something is wrong. And I always joke, it’s like, that was the opposite of how we were brought up. You were never supposed to have it all. In fact, if you had it all, you were being greedy. Cause if you have it all, that meant that someone didn’t have anything.”
“But that’s what we’re teaching young people,” she continues. “You should have a career, and you should earn a lot of money. You should be fulfilled. You should have your passion. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice that much. You should have it all.”
Their subtle digs at President Trump
While the two refrained from saying President Trump’s name, they did have two subtle jabs at him and his leadership. At one point, Barack says, “The only time [citizens] know about what government doing is when…” Michelle finishes his sentence: “When it doesn’t work, right?” Barack then responds, “We’re getting a good lesson in that right now.”
At another point in the show, Michelle says to Barack, “As you pointed out, as a former president who reads and knows history… Let’s just take moment to pause and think about that.”
On the idealism of young people
Because it wouldn’t be an Obama show without talking about the younger generation, they had several messages for the young people listening to the episode.
“Young people are idealistic as they have ever been,” Barack says. “I think they are more idealistic now than they were when I was growing up. The difference though is that…they feel as if they can channel it outside of governmental structures and outside of politics. The problem is, again, we’re getting a pretty good lesson in this right now, there’s some things we just can’t do by ourselves or even groups of us can do by ourselves…we can’t build infrastructure by ourselves, we can’t deal with a pandemic by ourselves.”
And again, they drive home the importance of working as a collective unit. Michelle says, “It is much more hopeful, it is much more gratifying, much more effective to live this life as a ‘we.’ And I think as young people listen to this, as they are starting to shape their paths, I would really strongly encourage them to think about building lives that are selfless, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it truly is the better way to live.”
You can listen to their entire conversation, here.
Variety shares that Lifetime is making a series about the lives of the First Ladies of the United States. Actress Viola Davis has been cast as Michelle in the series … I love this casting.
It’s fair to say that Viola Davis’ potential next TV role will come with a lot of pressure.
The actress has signed on to play former First Lady Michelle Obama in a series titled “First Ladies” which is in the works at Showtime. The network has given the prospective one-hour drama a three-script commitment, with novelist Aaron Cooley on board to write and executive produce.
The series will peel back the curtain on the personal and political lives of First Ladies from throughout history, with season one focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Michelle Obama. “First Ladies” will turn it lens on the East Wing of the White House, as opposed to the West, where many of history’s most impactful and world changing decisions have been hidden from view, made by America’s charismatic, complex and dynamic First Ladies.
Davis and her partner Julius Tennon serve as non-writing executive producers on the project via their JuVee Productions banner, alongside Cathy Schulman via Welle Entertainment, Jeff Gaspin via Gaspin Media, and Brad Kaplan via LINK Entertainment. The series hails from Showtime and Lionsgate Television.
Michelle Obama has been portrayed on film before, but never on television. She was notably played by Tika Sumpter in the 2016 picture “Southside With You.”
The Obamas are making the leap into content production themselves via their recently launched Higher Ground Productions. So far, the company’s originals slate is staying away from anything directly involving politics, with “Bloom,” an upstairs/downstairs drama series set in the world of fashion in post-WWII New York City, and a feature film adaptation of author David W. Blight’s “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” high up on the list.
Davis’ TV schedule is set to clear up in early 2020 as her five-year, six-season stint on “How to Get Away with Murder” comes to an end. Speaking at Variety’s Inclusion Summit earlier this year, Davis discussed some of her upcoming projects with JuVee and how to stop Hollywood from “dictating the storytelling” for people of color.
“If you look to the past and look at storytelling where there’s a huge deficit in terms of our voice and our presence, that’s not a good place to start,” she said. “What we have to fight for, and this is what I’m proud about with JuVee, is autonomy in storytelling and production and all of it. Don’t just tell me that the only way Viola can exist in the story is if a white person is leading the charge and I’m in the background.”
American Factory hit Netflix and select theaters on Wednesday
Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are hoping that the first film released through their highly anticipated production deal with Netflix can help viewers “get outside of themselves.”
American Factory, a documentary on post-industrial Ohio, hit Netflix on Wednesday, marking the first project from the former first couple’s Higher Ground production company.
In a special conversation with the film’s directors, Mr. Obama, 58, and Mrs. Obama, 55, explained their decision to select American Factory as part of their slate, noting that it accomplished the important feat of classic storytelling.
“One way of looking at what we’ve both been doing for the last 20 years, maybe most of our career, was to tell stories,” Mr. Obama says over coffee in the clip. “You want to be in relationships with people and connect with them and work together with them.”
That idea particularly struck directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who said their aim in making the documentary was to give a voice to the voiceless — in this case, blue-collar workers employed at a factory opened by a Chinese billionaire at a former General Motors plant.
The concept was familiar for Mrs. Obama, who said the beginning of the film reflected the life of her late father, Fraser Robinson III, who worked at a water filtration plant in Chicago.
“Those first scenes of those folks on the floor in their uniforms, that was my background, that was my father,” she says. “And that was reflected in this film.”
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, stressed the idea of getting viewers to learn how to relate to those with whom they didn’t have things in common.
“We want people to be able to get outside of themselves and experience and understand the lives of somebody else, which is what a good story does — it helps all of us feel some sort of solidarity with each other,” he says. “Let’s see if we can all elevate a little bit outside of our immediate self-interest and our immediate fears and our immediate anxieties and kind of take a look around and say, ‘Huh, we’re part of this larger thing.’”
The former president and first lady announced a production deal with Netflix in May 2018.
In April, they revealed their initial slate of projects, which covered everything from TV series to films and documentaries, both fiction and nonfiction.
Among those are a children’s show for preschoolers called Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents, a narrative film adaptation of the biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, and a new series from Nashville creator Callie Khouri called Bloom.
A news release at the time said the various movies and shows would be released on Netflix “over the next several years.”
“We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it’s all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives,” Mrs. Obama said in a statement at the time. “We think there’s something here for everyone — moms and dads, curious kids, and anyone simply looking for an engaging, uplifting watch at the end of a busy day. We can’t wait to see these projects come to life — and the conversations they’ll generate.”
American Factory, which won the Directing Award for U.S. Documentary at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, hits Netflix and select theaters on Wednesday.
I have been gradually adding some additional photoshoots to the gallery over the last few days.
– Michelle Obama Online > Photoshoots & Portraits
The “Forces for Change” issue hits newsstands on Aug. 2.
The announcement of Meghan Markle’s guest editing position for British Vogue comes two years after she shut down her lifestyle blog, The Tig
Meghan Markle is going Vogue!
The Duchess of Sussex has guest-edited the 2019 September issue of British Vogue, titled “Forces for Change,” featuring a candid conversation between the mother of one and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
“These last seven months have been a rewarding process, curating and collaborating with Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, to take the year’s most read fashion issue and steer its focus to the values, causes and people making impact in the world today,” Meghan said in a statement.
“Through this lens I hope you’ll feel the strength of the collective in the diverse selection of women chosen for the cover as well as the team of support I called upon within the issue to help bring this to light,” she said, adding, “I hope readers feel as inspired as I do, by the ‘Forces for Change’ they’ll find within these pages.”
Meghan is the first guest editor of the September issue in the magazine’s 103-year history.
In addition, an interview between husband Prince Harry and Dr. Jane Goodall will be included in the issue that features 15 trailblazing women on the cover. Among the group are actors and models, politicians and authors, and advocates for everything from diversity and mental health to climate change and voting rights.
Also included are “inspirational articles written by Brené Brown, Jameela Jamil and many others,” according to a statement posted on the SussexRoyal Instagram account. “Equally, you’ll find grassroots organisations and incredible trailblazers working tirelessly behind the scenes to change the world for the better.”
The announcement comes two years after Meghan shut down her lifestyle blog The Tig, where she used as a place to share various aspects of her life and the things that inspire her — in particular, food and travel.
“After close to three beautiful years on this adventure with you, it’s time to say goodbye to The Tig,” she wrote. “What began as a passion project (my little engine that could) evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity. You’ve made my days brighter and filled this experience with so much joy. Keep finding those Tig moments of discovery, keep laughing and taking risks, and keep being ‘the change you wish to see in the world.’ Above all, don’t ever forget your worth – as I’ve told you time and time again: you, my sweet friend, you are enough. Thank you for everything.”Read More
HAPPENING NOW: @MichelleObama hosts her annual Beating the Odds summit @HowardU. The event provides mentoring and guidance to first-generation college students. @ReachHigher @nbcwashington pic.twitter.com/kvn4XWJcqZ
— Cory Smith (@CoryNBC) July 23, 2019
Watch the entire interview from Essence Festival:
CNN has given us some of the highlights from the interview:
On marriage: “Marriage is all nice and cute but then kids show up and they take up all the oxygen in the land,” she said. “That’s why they make the babies cute because you would leave them at the Post Office.”
She later added: “My husband is my teammate and if we are going to win this game together, he has to be strong and he has to be OK with me being strong.”
On the role men played in her life: “My father and my brother had the greatest impact on my self-esteem because I grew up in a household with men who loved me and respected me very early on, who told me how beautiful I was, who treated me as an equal,” she said. “So even at an early age because I had a father and a brother and the men in my life who didn’t hurt me, who took care of me, the bar for what I expected for myself was set by the men in my life.”
On the extra difficulties for Sasha and Malia: “Imagine having Malia and Sasha come to your house for a sleepover. This is the call: It’s like, ‘Hello. OK, we’re going to need your Social Security number, we’re going to need your date of birth. There are going to be men coming to sweep your house, if you have guns and drugs, just tell them yes because they are going to find them anyway. Don’t lie, they’re not going to take them, they just need to know where they are. And, uh, thank you for having Malia and Sasha over. Oh and by the way, there is going to be a man with a gun sitting outside all night,” she said. “If you let him use the bathroom, that would be nice.'”
On being an empty-nester: “This is the beauty of finding a partner you really love and respect — because after all the highs and lows, the ups and downs we’ve been through, we have each other, which makes the journey worth it,” she said, adding that her and Barack Obama are “rediscovering each other” now.
On campaigning alongside her husband: “For a minute there, I was an angry black woman who was emasculating her husband. As I got more popular, that’s when people of all sides — Democrats and Republicans — tried to take me out by the knees and the best way to do it was to focus on the one thing people were afraid of: the strength of a black woman,” she said.
On defining her role: “I would have to earn my grace and I knew I would have to quickly define myself and I want all young girls out there to know — we all struggle with that, people of color, working class folks, women of color — people try to define us in a negative way before we get a chance to get out there and tell our own stories.”
On the night before: “The truth is, on that day I was moving my children out of the only house they had really grown up in,” she said. “I think that gets lost on people.”
On the emotional morning: “So anyway, the girls didn’t get up, I’m like get up and get out of here, and they’re all crying and they have their teddy bears and they’re moving slow and I’m like, you’ve got to get up and get out of this house. And I don’t know where these kids are going, but they had to get up and out of that house. So you’ve got tears and I’m pushing people out of freight elevators and my kids are crying — I don’t know where they going — all of that was happening and the staff was crying.”
On the crowd: “So look around of a crowd that was not reflective of the country and I had to sit in that audience, one of a handful of people of color, all that I had sort of held on to for eight years watching my husband get raked over the coals feeling like we had to do everything perfectly so that by the time I got on that plane it was a release of eight years of having to show up as we all know we have to do not only perfectly,” she said, “but a little bit better than perfect to even be considered equal.”
CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE
On ‘going high: ‘ “It has to be true — you know, look, that’s the one thing people ask me about, in this climate, how do you find it in yourself to go high and here’s the thing, going high is a long-term strategy — because the truth is, going high is about thinking about trying to really get to the real answer, because a lot of time the low answer is our immediate instinct. It’s just, I’m mad, I want to punch you in the face, but it doesn’t solve anything.”
On her guiding principles: “And if we’re thinking about what the agenda is, which is getting to a place where we all live in a country where we’re proud to pass on to our kids, going high is the only way we get there. It’s our patience, our tolerance, it’s our belief in honesty and truth, it’s our belief in hard work,” she said. “It’s not about getting somebody back, it’s not about the immediate clapback. The immediate clapback is just for your own selfish purpose right there in the moment and rarely does it solve anything.”
2020 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
On where the race is now: “I mean that’s one of the things that we learned in the campaign. It is early,” she said. “It’s like trying to figure out who is going to win the World Series on the first seven games, I mean that’s where we are right now. It is so early and things will change.”
On not endorsing a candidate in the primary: “The general election is so important that we have to get behind whoever comes out of that primary, so we’re watching everyone, we’re supporting everyone, we’re giving advice to whoever seeks it,” she said.
On the Biden-Harris spat over race and busing: “I’ve been doing this rodeo far too long,” she said to a laughing crowd. “It’s like — no comments.”
This weekend Michelle was in New Orleans where she participated in the Essence Festival. She was interviewed by CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King.
Go Team USA! I have added pics to our gallery from the Dodgeball game that Michelle participated in at the Late Late Show with James Corden.
USA vs UK! It is on!
Since moving to the United States for The Late Late Show, James Corden has been searching for a way to determine which is better: the UK or the US. So James enlists Michelle Obama to put together a group of American all-stars, including Kate Hudson, Mila Kunis, Melissa McCarthy, Lena Waithe and Allison Janney, to take on a group of formidable UK foes. Can James, Reggie Watts, Harry Styles, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Bradley earn honor for Great Britain?