Michelle Obama Says She Didn't Have the Role Models That Young Women Have Today
The former first lady celebrated Serena Williams and Mindy Kaling in the latest episode of her Audible podcast.
Michelle Obama is getting candid about the importance of having diverse role models in pop culture. During episode 3 of her Audible podcast Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast (available for streaming tomorrow), the former first lady is joined by comedian and late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien to discuss inclusive representation for young women — something she feels she didn't have growing up.
"We've got so many role models. We've got Serena now out there," she said in the episode, which was recorded in front of a live audience. "I didn't have a Serena to look up to, somebody who was beautiful, strong, fast, outspoken. That wasn't a role model for me."
She went on to list some powerful AAPI women in television and film who have paved the way for future generations. "I write about Mindy Kaling now rewriting the whole story of who belongs in television," she continued. "Ali Wong, who's one of my favorite comedians. All of those women, their representation is so important. And that's why representation and storytelling is important."
Related:Michelle Obama Says It's Important to Show Kids "Gladness"
Of course, thanks to her husband's tenure in the White House and many of her own initiatives, Obama has cemented herself as a prominent and powerful figure for young Black women to look up to. She shares that being a representative for Black girls everywhere encouraged her to be vocal about her journey and experience.
"Why do I write these books? I have thoughts in my head, but I think the more stories that I can tell about a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago who is working class, there's going to be some kid out there that's going to see themselves in the way that I didn't have somebody to see," she explained. "And it is important for us to put our stories out there."
She spotted a young audience member and addressed her personally, telling her to have confidence in herself and her story.
"I want little girls like this little beautiful girl right there, yes you, yes you, to know that your story matters, that I see you with hair like mine and that beautiful smile, and you belong. And I want you to practice that message now every day so that you're not like me at 58 wondering, 'Am I good enough,' when I know I doggone am good enough."
Together, Audible and Higher Ground (the production company started by President Barack Obama and Michelle in 2018) launched the podcast in March as an extension to Obama's best-selling book The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. During the book tour, Obama invited many of her famous friends, including O'Brien, Ellen DeGeneres, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Hoda Kotb, and more to join her on stages around the country to record the podcast and have vital conversations in front of intimate crowds.
“Like so many people around the world, I felt isolated, disconnected, and discouraged during the pandemic. Writing The Light We Carry was a way for me to make sense of it and reflect on some of the biggest challenges we all face in life — and the tour was an incredible way to share those stories with my readers and connect with real people once again," Obama said in a press release at the time. "The best part is that this time around I got to bring some of my best friends and favorite personalities to join in the fun. That’s what Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast is all about — it’s a deeper examination of those fun and meaningful moments, lovingly made by our incredible team at Higher Ground and the fantastic people at Audible. I can’t wait for you all to take a listen.”
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