Becoming, a Netflix original documentary — in association with Higher Ground and Big Mouth Productions — is an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House. The film, directed by Nadia Hallgren, offers a rare and up-close look at her life, taking viewers behind the scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories.
A note about the film from Executive Producers Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis
Higher Ground Productions had just come into existence around the time that Mrs. Obama was finishing her book and planning her tour. We were struck by how extraordinary a moment it was for the First Lady, who was putting very personal stories about her life out into the world for the first time, and for a world in the midst of divisive times. We didn’t know what would happen on tour, but thought it was worth capturing.
What unfolded was unexpected, powerful, and profound. Director Nadia Hallgren was able to capture not just Mrs. Obama’s personal experience, but the experience of the communities and people she spent time with. When we looked at the footage with Nadia and producers Marilyn Ness and Katy Chevingy, we could see the portrait of a moment in time told through Mrs. Obama’s story. And we could see people from all walks of life opening up to each other and finding their shared humanity. Nadia told us she wanted to make a film about how sharing our stories can break down divides and bring us together. That was exciting to us.
As a company, we want to tell stories that embody our values and lift up voices that don’t always get heard. We are thrilled to have made a film with Nadia that does both. — Priya and Tonia
A Note from Michelle Obama
I’m excited to let you know that on May 6, Netflix will release BECOMING, a documentary film directed by Nadia Hallgren that looks at my life and the experiences I had while touring following the release of my memoir.
Those months I spent traveling — meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe — drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with. In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams. We processed the past and imagined a better future. In talking about the idea of ‘becoming,’ many of us dared to say our hopes out loud.
I treasure the memories and that sense of connection now more than ever, as we struggle together to weather this pandemic, as we care for our loved ones, tend to our communities, and try to keep up with work and school while coping with huge amounts of loss, confusion, and uncertainty.
It’s hard these days to feel grounded or hopeful, but I hope that like me, you’ll find joy and a bit of respite in what Nadia has made. Because she’s a rare talent, someone whose intelligence and compassion for others comes through in every frame she shoots. Most importantly, she understands the meaning of community, the power of community, and her work is magically able to depict it.
As many of you know, I’m a hugger. My whole life, I’ve seen it as the most natural and equalizing gesture one human can make toward another — the easiest way of saying, “I’m here for you.” And this is one of the toughest parts of our new reality: Things that once felt simple — going to see a friend, sitting with someone who is hurting, embracing someone new — are now not simple at all.
But I’m here for you. And I know you are here for one another. Even as we can no longer safely gather or feed off the energy of groups, even as many of us are living with grief, loneliness, and fear, we need to stay open and able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Empathy is our lifeline here. It’s what will get us to the other side. Let’s use it to redirect our attention toward what matters most, reconsider our priorities, and find ways to better remake the world in the image of our hopes.
Even in hard times, maybe especially in hard times, our stories help cement our values and strengthen our connections. Sharing them shows us the way forward. I love and miss you all.
- Directed by: Nadia Hallgren
- Produced by: Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness, & Lauren Cioffi
- Co-Producer: Maureen A. Ryan
- Executive Producers: Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis