They’re not exactly the most unlikely trio: three of the most influential women in the world, one in politics, one in fashion, and one just generally beloved by America. But it’s still surprising to see Michelle Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kerry Washington on the May 2015 cover of Glamour magazine—together. According to the magazine’s website, the three are teaming up “to spread a crucial message: This Memorial Day, America’s servicewomen, veterans, and military wives—courageous women—need our help.”
In an interview with Glamour’s editor-in-chief, Cindi Leive, the First Lady, Washington, and Parker—who’ve worked together for the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities—sit down in the Blue Room at the White House to discuss how each has been personally touched by men and women who serve, and why they’re joining forces to make a difference.
Though the excerpt doesn’t explicitly outline what exactly they’ll be doing (the full story will be printed in the glossy come May), one thing’s clear: all three believe that actions speak louder than words. “When you see a serviceman or—woman, you always—I always—say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ But you know that’s not enough….” Parker, 50, tells Leive. When asked where one begins, the First Lady suggests, “Start in your community. Most of what these men and women need is people in their backyard lending a helping hand.” And Washington, 38, whose father served before she was born, wants to get rid of the elephant in the room that is PTSD. The actress, who told Glamour in 2013 that she frequents a shrink, is hoping to bust the myth that therapy is taboo. “We have to develop a culture of open arms and acceptance so that they feel comfortable saying, ‘I’m a veteran. And by the way, I need little help.’” She continues: “They aren’t broken; they are heroes. They have extraordinary discipline, courage, and capacity—that’s what we can focus on.”
To note, this isn’t the first time Mrs. Obama has landed the cover of Glamour. She was on it six years ago, early in her tenure at the White House and undecided about the causes she would champion. So it makes sense that the magazine has come full circle to feature the First Lady—accompanied by two other accomplished, like-minded women—now that she’s established and focused on her respective programs.
“Well, during the first campaign, one of my jobs as my husband’s spouse was to travel around the country and really listen to women. We held small discussion groups, [and] there were voices that were new to me: the voices of military spouses, many of them women, and veterans,” she shares. “We live in a country where one percent of the population protects the rights and freedoms of the other 99 percent of us. I thought that if I had the opportunity to serve as First Lady, I was going to use this platform to be their voice.”
And why not throw equally powerful voices in to the mix? The Obamas famously have a wealth of starry friends willing to throw their support behind their initiatives. So it’d make sense that Mrs. Obama would recruit well-respected women like Washington and Parker to draw as much attention to this program as possible.