Former first lady Michelle Obama revealed during an interview that aired on Sunday that she was skeptical of Barack Obama when she first met him because white people liked him.
Obama made the remarks during a primetime ABC News special with Robin Roberts, “Becoming Michelle: A First Lady’s Journey with Robin Roberts.”
“You’re gonna be his mentor,” Robins said, speaking on how Michelle was going to be Barack’s mentor. “He comes blowing into town, a little bit famous already. Late for the first meeting.”
“Late. Late,” Obama responded. “I was, like, “Is he trifling?” This– the black man’s gonna be late on the first day?” I was–“
“You– you weren’t overly impressed in the beginning?” Robins asked.
“I– I wasn’t, you know? I have my suspicions when a bunch of white folks fawn on over a black man ’cause I sorta think, ‘Okay, he can talk straight so they think he’s wonderful,'” Obama responded.
“So — so that was my theory. And then his name was Barack Obama,” Obama responded. “He was from Hawaii. I thought, ‘What,’ you know? So I didn’t really know what to expect. And then in walks Barack Obama. And Barack Obama has always walked like Barack Obama. Like, he’s got all the time in the world. He’s– he had that stride. I was, like, ‘Dude, you’re cute.’ But in my mind, I was, like–“
“Not interested?” Robins asked.
“Off limits. Not even not interested,” Obama responded. “I’m not gonna date the– one of the few black summer associates. Robin, how tacky, you know?”
Full transcript of “Act 2” provided via ABC News:
[NEWS CLIP OF BARACK OBAMA’S INAUGURATION]
THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME AMERICA GOT TO KNOW MICHELLE AND BARACK OBAMA- AS A VERY ROMANTIC, VERY CONNECTED, COUPLE. I REMEMBER SPEAKING WITH THE NEW PRESIDENT, JUST MOMENTS AFTER THAT ICONIC INAUGURAL BALL DANCE.
[NEWS CLIP OF ROBIN ROBERTS WITH BARACK OBAMA]
BUT WHAT LED UP TO THAT GOLDEN MOMENT FOR THIS COUPLE WASN’T ALWAYS A FAIRY TALE. IN HER BOOK, MICHELLE OBAMA CALLS THIS PART OF HER STORY ”BECOMING US,” ABOUT THE MEETING AND MARRIAGE THAT WOULD TRANSFORM THE TRAJECTORY OF HER LIFE AND CHALLENGE HER IN WAYS SHE WOULD NEVER EXPECT.
ROBIN ROBERTS: You ready to talk about Barack?
MICHELLE OBAMA: Who?
BY AGE 25, MICHELLE HAD EXECUTED A METICULOUS GAME PLAN FOR ACHIEVEMENT AND SUCCESS.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I was a box checker. And I was checking off my box. You know, I got into Princeton, great. What am I gonna do next? I don’t know. Why don’t I go to law school? Got into Harvard, I’m going to Harvard, check. You know, got my– you know, got my big firm position, check.
THAT BIG FIRM POSITION WAS AT THE CHICAGO LAW FIRM OF SIDLEY AND AUSTIN.
ROBIN ROBERTS: You’re at this law firm—
MICHELLE OBAMA: Got it all together.
ROBIN ROBERTS: You got it all together.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I had made a declaration that I was off men. I was focusing on my career. I had my checklist. I was—
ROBIN ROBERTS: You were–
MICHELLE OBAMA: Getting’ it down.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Locked, focused–
MICHELLE OBAMA: Was focused.
AND THEN SHE WAS ASKED TO MENTOR AN INCOMING SUMMER ASSOCIATE – A MAN TWO YEARS OLDER, ALREADY RUMORED TO BE AN EXCEPTIONALLY GIFTED LAW STUDENT.
ROBIN ROBERTS: he’s still a law student–
MICHELLE OBAMA: Uh-huh.
ROBIN ROBERTS: –at Harvard.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Right. A first year.
ROBIN ROBERTS: First year. You’re gonna be his mentor. He comes blowing into town, a little bit famous already. Late for the first meeting.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Late. Late. I was, like, “Is he trifling?” This– the black man’s gonna be late on the first day?” I was–
ROBIN ROBERTS: You– you weren’t overly impressed in the beginning?
MICHELLE OBAMA: I– I wasn’t, you know? I have my suspicions when a bunch of white folks fawn on over a black man ’cause I sorta think, “Okay, he can talk straight so they think he’s wonderful.” So — so that was my theory. And then his name was Barack Obama. He was from Hawaii. I thought, “What,” you know? So I didn’t really know what to expect. And then in walks Barack Obama. And Barack Obama has always walked like Barack Obama. Like, he’s got all the time in the world. He’s– he had that stride. I was, like, “Dude, you’re cute.” But in my mind, I was, like—
ROBIN ROBERTS: Not interested?
MICHELLE OBAMA: Off limits. Not even not interested. I’m not gonna date the– one of the few black summer associates. Robin, how tacky, you know?
BUT SHE QUICKLY FOUND HERSELF DRAWN TO HIM, AND BY JULY, HER RESOLVE TO AVOID ROMANCE BEGAN TO FALTER.
MICHELLE OBAMA: We had been hanging out, getting closer. Barack had suggested that we date. But I was, like, “No, no, meet my friends. Do this, do that. It wouldn’t be right, no.” And he was, like, “You’re crazy. We should date. I like you, you like me.” And he was very — and I liked that about him. He was very straightforward. He wasn’t playin’ games. I say that to the ladies out there. Not a game play. Very clear about what he wanted. When we stopped for ice cream and he got the sense that I was starting to open up. And he, you know, he played it real smooth. He just leaned in for a kiss. And that really was it. You know, from that kiss on, we were– it was– it was love. And he was my man.
YEARS LATER, THERE’S AN ENTIRE MOVIE – “SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU” – BASED ON THAT FIRST DATE. AND THERE’S A TRIBUTE AT THE CHICAGO ICE CREAM SHOP.
ROBIN ROBERTS: You realize there’s a plaque there, right?
MICHELLE OBAMA: I know. The kids are highly embarrassed that there’s a plaque about their parents’ first kiss.
BUT SHE DOESN’T HOLD BACK FROM DESCRIBING THEIR YOUNG PASSION.
ROBIN ROBERTS: There’re many things in reading that– your book that I don’t think I would ever imagine hearing from a first lady. Lust. You talked about lust for your man.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Uh-huh.
ROBIN ROBERTS: That’s not something you expect to hear or read from a first lady.
MICHELLE OBAMA: But it’s there. I don’t know what to tell you. It was– it was there. It still is. I love my husband a lot.
BUT WHILE THEIR MUTUAL AFFECTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN ON DISPLAY, NOW, FOR THE FIRST TIME, MICHELLE IS OPENING UP ABOUT PARTS OF THEIR MARRIAGE SHE HELD DEEPLY PRIVATE FOR YEARS. FIRST, INFERTILITY.
(Michelle Obama reading from her memoir, “Becoming”) “It turns out that even two committed go-getters with a deep love and robust work ethic can’t will themselves into being pregnant.”
SHE DID GET PREGNANT. BUT THEN, WEEKS LATER, SHE MISCARRIED.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I felt lost and alone. And I feel– I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about ’em. We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.
SHE REVEALS THAT IT WAS WITH THE HELP OF INFERTILITY TREATMENTS THAT MALIA – AND THEN SASHA – WERE FINALLY CONCEIVED.
MICHELLE OBAMA: The biological clock is real– because egg production is limited. And I realized that as I was 34 and 35. We had to do IVF. I think it’s the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work and how they don’t work.
AND – FOR THE FIRST TIME – SHE SHARES DETAILS ABOUT HOW THE STRESS OF THEIR HECTIC SCHEDULES INFILTRATED THEIR MARRIAGE.
ROBIN ROBERTS: You write about at one point in your marriage that you and Barack went to marriage counseling. Why did you think it was important to share that?
MICHELLE OBAMA: And marriage counseling for us was one of those ways where we learned how to talk out our differences. What I learned about myself was that my happiness was up to me. And I started working out more. I started asking for help, not just from him, but from other people. I stopped feeling guilty. I know too many young couples who struggle and think that somehow there’s something wrong with them. And I want them to know that Michelle and Barack Obama, who have a phenomenal marriage and who love each other, we work on our marriage. And we get help with our marriage when we need it.
NEXT – LIFE AS A POLITICIAN’S WIFE, FACING SCRUTINY, AND SCORN.
ROBIN ROBERTS: What do you wish you could tell your pre-White House self?
MICHELLE OBAMA: Whew.
STAY WITH US