Growing up in the White House as part of one of the most famous families in America, Malia Obama has had an extraordinary life so far. While her parents did all they could to protect their daughters from media scrutiny, the former First Daughter has decided to swap Harvard for Hollywood. And she’s already flying high.
Since fleeing the nest in 2017 Malia has attended the prestigious Ivy League university. And aside from attaining a first-rate education, the youngster has used these years to find her feet away from her family. So she embarked on a relationship with fellow student Rory Farquharson and set herself up for a career post-college.
In February 2021 it was reported that Malia had lined up her first job prior to her college graduation. And as you would maybe expect from the daughter of a former U.S. president, it wasn’t your average graduate-level position. That’s because the role would take her to the bright lights of Hollywood, where her talent has an opportunity to burn brightly.
So what elements of her extraordinary upbringing have lured Malia to Tinseltown? Well, she was born in Chicago on July 4, 1998, as the first child of parents Barack and Michelle. She was just ten when she moved to the White House with her family in 2009, thrusting the youngster firmly into the public eye. Even so, mom Michelle was determined to raise Malia and her sister Sasha as normally as possible.
Michelle opened up about raising her daughters in America’s most famous residency in an episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast in September 2020. She said, “One of the things that I had to learn how to negotiate was creating these boundaries with my kids in the White House. I mean, you talk about being raised in a totally different world than I ever knew?”
Even though they were young, the move represented a marked difference from the life Malia and Sasha had experienced before. Michelle explained, “It’s like, pluckin’ these little girls out of our normal life on the South Side of Chicago with [my brother] Craig, and mom, and our way of doing things, and our community, and then, putting them in a historic mansion with butlers and maids, and florists, and gardeners, and Secret Service. And then trying to make sure that they understood boundaries, understood responsibility.”
So while Malia and her sister had everything at their fingertips, it was down to their grandmother Marian Robinson to keep things humble for the girls. Michelle revealed, “You had to basically upend the system of the White House to get them to make sure these girls had some semblance of normalcy, right?” With that in mind, Marian’s idea of a treat was “a little extra candy.”
In order to try and keep her kids as grounded as she could, Michelle also made sure Barack’s job had as little impact on family life as possible. She said, “I always tried to make sure that I wasn’t pouting in front of the kids when Barack wasn’t there. If I had made a big deal out of it and said, ‘Oh my god, your dad’s not here again! Oh, he’s missing this or ‘I just wish…’ then that’s the signal to them, ‘Well this isn’t normal.’”
Michelle said of her famous husband, “He worked his schedule around their schedule. They weren’t waiting until 9 o’clock at night to eat because dad was running late. They never couldn’t… go somewhere or do something because of dad. I never wanted them to resent the presidency, or resent what their dad did.”
However hard Michelle tried to keep life normal for her kids, though, there were some things that made Malia and Sasha different from other girls their age. For instance, they attended Sidwell Friends School, which has been called “the Harvard of Washington’s private schools.” Alumni of the establishment include Archibald Roosevelt, Tricia Nixon and Chelsea Clinton.
As teens, Malia and Sasha also used their public profiles to promote philanthropic causes. Back in 2016 the sisters traveled to the U.K., Spain and Morocco in order to endorse the Let Girls Learn project. The government initiative had been set up to ensure young women from across the globe had access to an education.
What’s more, when the time came for Malia to learn to drive, it wasn’t her parents that took her out for lessons. Instead, the teen got behind the wheel with a Secret Service agent, who showed her the ropes. Michelle shared the revelation in a TV interview with Rachael Ray in 2015. She explained that security wouldn’t let her drive off White House property with her daughter.
When the time came for the Obamas to leave the White House in 2017 Barack felt that he and Michelle had made a good fist of raising their daughters under these most unusual of circumstances. And during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert December 2020 the gushing dad said that they were his proudest achievement.
Barack added, “Maybe one of my greatest successes, Michelle’s greatest successes, in those eight years was raising these great girls, who don’t have an attitude, don’t feel entitled. But part of it is because of my mother-in-law. If she saw them acting bratty, she said, ‘You guys haven’t done anything. Why are you acting special? You’re just here for the ride.’”
Eventually, the time came for Malia to fly the nest altogether, and as we previously mentioned she took up a place at Harvard University in 2017. Like many proud parents, Malia’s folks were at her side to help her settle into life at uni. Later, Michelle opened up about the emotional experience of dropping her daughter off in her podcast.
To keep her feelings at bay, Michelle revealed she had tried to keep busy. She explained, “Barack and I have two different ways of dealing with that anxiety. I just had a list of things to do. I was unpacking the room, we’re making the bed, we’re cleaning, we’re getting the dorm room ready. We had things. You know, I was occupied.”
Her husband, on the other hand, was for once at a bit of a loose end. Michelle confessed, “Barack was all out of it because he really didn’t have a job. So we had to give him a make-job. Like, ‘Hey, why don’t you try to put this lamp together.’ The lamp was already put together, you know, it just really needed to be screwed.”
As they drove away from Malia, Michelle said of her emotion, “We tried to hold it in.” But that was easier said than done. She explained, “Then I heard Barack over on the side just, [sniffs] you know that sort of (thing). And Allen, his agent, passed a handkerchief back to him. He was like, ‘Thanks man.’ We both shed some tears.”
Unquestionably the moment was a poignant one for the parents, as it signified to them that their oldest child was all grown up. Michelle said, “There was just something about the actual leaving her, even though she had been to sleepaway camp, and she had traveled. There’s just something about that baby is now, like, she’s gone.”
Fast-forward just over three years and Malia had completed college and was on the hunt for her first job. In February 2021 it was announced that the then-22-year-old was swapping Harvard for Hollywood. Not only that, but she had landed a job in what was arguably the hottest writer’s rooms of the moment.
Of course, Malia is no stranger to the great and the good of Hollywood. Both her mom and dad are well-known for having a famous circle of friends. And among the prominent people with whom the family has rubbed shoulders over the years are Beyoncé, Oprah and George Clooney.
We don’t know if Malia’s early exposure to celebrities influenced her career choices as she grew. But by the time she was a teenager, she had already shown an interest in the worlds of TV and film. For instance, in 2014 she interned on the sci-fi drama Extant, which starred Halle Berry.
In 2017 Berry spilled the beans on how Malia got on during her time on set in a TV interview on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. The actress said, “She was fantastic, she was amazing. I was such a huge fan of her. She is such a smart, beautiful, young woman.” She added, “She was down to do whatever a P.A. is asked to do, and I had wild respect for her for that.”
The year after her stint working on Extant Malia took up another internship in the TV trade, this time with HBO. It was then that she helped out with the production of the comedy series Girls. And according to the star of the show, Lena Dunham, the teenager was eager to make a good impression on set.
In a 2017 interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM radio show, Dunham said of Malia, “She loved the show, and I mean, obviously, we weren’t, like, making her go get our coffee. You’re not going to send [the president’s daughter to get coffee]. But she wanted to do all the jobs. That was the cool thing. She was totally enthusiastic.”
Following her stint on Girls Malia moved onto another internship with the since-disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. It was also rumored that she was looking into studying at New York University, which is home to one of the country’s most reputable filmmaking courses. But ultimately, she went on to attend college at Harvard.
And even before she’d graduated, Malia had managed to bag herself a top job in the television industry. That’s because, according to a magazine report by The Hollywood Reporter in February 2021, she’d been recruited by producer and actor Donald Glover to work on his impending Amazon series.
The news came to light after Donald – who also makes music under the Childish Gambino moniker – cut ties with FX. The network had been the home of the actor’s successful series Atlanta. But after ending his contract, the star reportedly signed with Amazon in a deal said to be worth eight figures.
Reporting on the deal, The Hollywood Reporter claimed that Donald was expected to establish his own channel on Prime Video. That space was said to be reserved for his endeavors as well as other carefully chosen content. Accompanying Donald on his move to Amazon was his brother Stephen Glover, who had worked as a writer and producer on Atlanta.
Where Malia comes into reports is in regard to a rumored potential series going by the name ofHive. From Janine Nabers, the writer and producer behind the TV shows Watchmen and Away, the whispers are that the embryonic show’s focus revolves around a pop music diva in the mould of Beyoncé or similar.
Apparently, Malia has secured a spot in the writer’s room on the fledgling series. But given that the show is said to be in its early stages, other details regarding the former First Daughter’s involvement in the production were scarce. And Amazon declined to comment on either its deal with Donald or the development of Hive.
Malia isn’t the only person in her famous family to have shown an interest in production in recent times. Her parents signed a deal with Netflix in 2018 before announcing seven projects they had in the pipeline almost a year later. These included a number of documentaries as well as a feature film about the prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
In a statement about the couple’s Netflix collaboration obtained by The New York Times newspaper, Barack promised a wide range of programming. He said, “Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights and much more, we believe each of these productions won’t just entertain but will educate, connect and inspire us all.”
Even though Malia and her parents have potentially found themselves working for rival streaming services, they’ll no doubt remain supportive of one another. On her podcast, Michelle said of her daughters, “Both Malia and Sasha have turned out to be wonderful young ladies, and very well-adjusted, given what they had to deal with right at a very important developmental point in their lives.”
Malia and Sasha have in turn have expressed their own pride in their mother during an infrequent interview for the 2020 documentary on Michelle, Becoming. Speaking of their mom, Sasha said, “I’m excited for her to be proud of what she’s done because I think that’s the most important thing for a human to do is be proud of themselves.”
Malia, meanwhile, spoke of the legions of fans Michelle had attracted on her sold-out book tour. She said, “What this has demonstrated in a way just, damn those eight years weren’t for nothing, you know? You see that huge crowd out there and that last kind of speech you gave about – people are here because people really believe in love and in hope and hope in other people.”
In 2020 it was reported that Malia and Sasha had moved back in with their parents for a time. But Malia didn’t return to her family home alone. She brought her British boyfriend Rory Farquharson along as well. And luckily, the fellow Harvard-student won the approval of her father.
In December 2020 Barack told The Bill Simmons Podcast of Farquharson, “He’s British, wonderful young man… I didn’t want to like him but he’s a good kid.” Still, there was one small complaint about the family’s new housemate. Barack explained, “Young men eat like… it’s weird to watch them consume food. And my grocery bill went up about 30 percent.”
Malia and Farquharson were first linked back in 2017. The son of an accountant and an investment firm chief executive, he comes from a wealthy British family. He has a royal connection too, with his second cousin once serving as Master of the Household at Buckingham Palace. Like Malia, he attends Harvard, though it’s unclear what he studies there.
Malia is set to graduate from Harvard in 2021. Combined with the fact she’s dating and will soon be working too, it would be fair to say that she really is, to coin a phrase, all grown up. What’s more, if the rumors of her new job in Hollywood are true, we’ll no doubt be hearing a lot more about the young woman in the future.