Tsunami Costabir takes a look at some of the most iconic productions from Barack and Michelle Obama’s ‘Higher Ground Productions’.
Barack and Michelle Obama are among the most iconic power couples the world has known. On October 3, 2022, the couple celebrated their 30th Wedding Anniversary. From being co-workers to business partners and world leaders, the couple leaves only a few stones unturned.
In 2018, The Obamas decided to put their power and platform to use and extend it into the entertainment space. Visual media has been known to impact minds on a larger scale compared to any other entertainment form.
In a statement, Barack and Michelle said, “From science fiction to the beauty of our natural world to the relationships that define us, Higher Ground continues to strive for fresh perspectives, compelling characters, and a healthy dose of inspiration.”
Apart from their goal to tell compelling stories, though, they also envisioned diversity and representing people of colour, both on and behind the screen. Higher Ground Productions, in May of 2018, signed a deal with Netflix to produce film and television projects, with the goal of lifting up diverse voices in the entertainment industry. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have a goal to tell powerful stories that “entertain, inform, and inspire.”
In June 2019, Higher Ground signed a deal with Spotify to produce Spotify-exclusive podcasts. They’ve released ‘The Michelle Obama Podcast’, ‘The Big Hit Show’, ‘The Sum of Us’ and ‘Renegades: Born In The US’.
The company’s first-ever film was the critically acclaimed documentary ‘American Factory’, which explores the impact of globalisation on the Rust Belt region of the United States; it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2020. Their 2022 documentary ‘Our Great National Parks’ won the Emmy award for Outstanding Narration by Barack Obama.
‘The G Word’ discusses topics and their connection to the federal government of the USA. ‘Fatherhood’ is a single father bringing up his young daughter after the unexpected death of his wife. ‘We The People’ is a TV series that looks back through black history and aims to educate people on their rights. ‘Crisp Camp: A Disability Revolution’ is a film about a summer camp for kids with disabilities. The film won high critical acclaim. ‘Becoming’ is a docufilm that follows the former First Lady’s 2019 book tour, which went on to score four Emmy nominations.
They also create content for kids: ‘Waffles + Mochi’ is a cooking show and Netflix’s first stab into the puppet genre. It stars Michelle Obama alongside two puppets: Waffles and Mochi. ‘Ada Twist, Scientist’ is a preschool animated series to help interest kids in science.
Higher Ground still has multiple projects in development, including a feature film adaption of Frederick Douglass’ biography, a drama series set in the fashion scene of post-WWII New York City, and a scripted anthology series of the ‘New York Times’ obituary column highlighting deaths of remarkable people not reported.
Their work evokes a spirit of wanting to look forward – revelling in the good while addressing the bad. They primarily address American problems, whose values can be shown to the rest of the world.
A central theme to their work is addressing American history and its problems while looking forward – being able to see the flaws without negating everything else. Higher Ground aims to create an impact by telling thought-provoking and meaningful stories.