Malia Obama Opens Up About Mom's Influence in Rare Film Appearance: 'Damn, Those 8 Years Weren't for Nothing'
Netflix documentary Becoming focuses on former First Lady Michelle Obama, but that doesn't mean it's not a family affair. Her mom, Marian Robinson, and brother Craig Robinson make plenty of appearances in the film premiering on Wednesday, and husband Barack Obama is there, too.
At one point in Becoming, Malia is seen visiting her mom — apparently backstage after a stop on Mrs. Obama's blockbuster book tour in support of her memoir of the same name.
"You're so good, I love you too much," says Malia (her mom's "little potato").
"I cried again," Malia continues.
"Why you always crying?" Mrs. Obama asks her.
"It's always so ...," Malia begins.
"This has demonstrated in a way — it’s just like, damn, those eight years weren’t for nothing. You know?" Malia tells her mom. "You see that huge crowd out there and that last kind of speech you gave about — people are here because people really believe in hope and hope in other people."
With a smile and a small eye-roll, she adds, "And also every time you guys play Stevie Wonder, I don’t know, I cry a little bit."
Becoming, announced last week, follows the former first lady on her most high-profile post-White House project to date: Her bestselling memoir and accompanying tour and some of her related community activism empowering girls and young women.
Late in the documentary, Malia and Sasha appear via brief on-camera comment that was originally recorded in 2018 for a video shown at their mom’s book-tour events.
"I’m excited for her to be proud of what she’s done ‘cause I think that’s the most important thing for a human to do is be proud of themselves," Sasha says in the clip.
Her older sister adds: "No longer facing that same scrutiny, being able to let all of that leave your mind, creates so much more space."
Now 21, Malia is finishing up at Harvard University, where she enrolled in 2017. Sasha just ended her freshman year at the University of Michigan.
Other than their periodic appearances in photos while living in the White House — and an early campaign trail family interview with Access Hollywood in 2008 — the Obama daughters have avoided the spotlight.
"Barack and I are empty-nesters," Mrs. Obama says in Becoming, "and that has been exhilarating: to watch the two little beans you were in charge of grow up."
As she told PEOPLE last year: "As a parent, one of the most important things we can give our children is the freedom to find their own way in the world. With Sasha and Malia, [we try to] honor the unique flame each of them has inside. They are their own people, and that’s what I love about them. And they’ve got to have room to breathe and explore."
Becoming premieres Wednesday on Netflix.