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9 things we learned about Michelle Obama from her ‘Becoming’ documentary

Michelle Obama - REUTERS/Jim Young

9 things we learned about Michelle Obama from her ‘Becoming’ documentary

From the lessons she learned in marriage counselling, to the way she changed the White House, former First Lady Michelle Obama's shares some surprising revelations in her new Netflix documentary.

9 things we learned about Michelle Obama from her ‘Becoming’ documentary

1. She starts every day with music

Becoming opens with Kirk Franklin’s track ‘A God Like You’, showing Obama’s love for great music. The whole film celebrates black musicians, featuring Drake and Frank Ocean tracks throughout.


2. She made the White House their family home

The former First Lady reveals the meaningful changes she made in the White House to make her family feel at home. It was important for Malia and Sasha to have as normal of an upbringing as they could, so she changed the staff uniform to be more casual and do away with the traditional tuxedos.

She also wanted her daughters to know how to make their own beds and clean up after themselves, so told cleaning staff to stop tidying their rooms.


3. She was told not to apply to Princeton

Despite her good grades and skills, Michelle was told by her guidance counsellor she wasn’t “Princeton material”.

She reveals the advice hurt, but it wasn’t going to stop her. “I wasn’t going to let one person’s opinion dislodge everything I thought I knew about myself,” says Obama.

She applied to Princeton anyway and was accepted.


4. She fell in love with Barack from his voice

In Becoming, Michelle recalls the early days in her and Barack’s relationship.

It was his voice that first intrigued her, she revealed. “I really was like, ‘Whoa!’ The heat was coming out of the phone from that voice.”


5. She’s an avid pianist

Music has been a big part of Michelle’s life. Her mum recalls that as a child, she would play a song on repeat until it was perfect.

6. She cried for 30 minutes after leaving the White House

Departing the White House was a profoundly emotional experience, says Michelle. In the film, she reveals she cried for 30 minutes because of the immense relief she felt no longer having to “do everything perfectly” anymore.

“I was trying not to cry because I said if I walk out there crying, they’re going to swear I’m crying for a different reason,” she says in an interview with Oprah.

“It was a very emotional day. But then we got on Air Force One and I got on the plane and I think I sobbed for 30 minutes. I think it was just the release of eight years of trying to do everything perfectly.”


7. She’s learned a lot from marriage counselling

Back in 2018 when she released her memoir, Michelle revealed she and Barack had sought out marriage counselling.

Speaking to Gayle King in the documentary, she revealed the most important thing she learned from the experience: “My happiness is not dependent on him making me happy.”


8. Having kids was a “concession”

Michelle reveals up until the birth of their daughters, her and Barack’s relationship had felt very equal.

“My relationship with Barack was all about our equal partnership,” she recalls. “If I was going to have a unique voice with this very opinionated man, I had to get myself up and set myself off to a place where I was going to be his equal.”

The birth of Malia and Sasha changed this dynamic, she admits.

“The thing that really changed it was the birth of our children. I wasn’t really ready for that. That really made it harder,” she says. “Something had to give and it was my aspirations and dreams.”

She continues: “I made that concession not because he said ‘you have to quit your job,’ but it felt like ‘I can’t do all of this so I have to tone down my aspirations, I have to dial it back.’”


9. Her staff members are like family

The former First Lady has very close ties to her staff members, its revealed in the documentary.

Her advisor, Melissa Winter, has stuck with her since the 2007 presidential campaign. Secret Service agent Allen Taylor, she says, is treated like an honorary family member.

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