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Former first lady Michelle Obama sat down for her first TV interview since leaving the White House on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday, where she discussed her family’s new life and home and her thoughts on the current political climate.
“What’s happening since you left the White House? Are you bored?” DeGeneres was quick to quip.
Though Obama informed her that “nothing much” has been going on, she felt it was important to “come out of the basement” to celebrate the daytime host’s 60th birthday celebration.
“I wake up when I want to wake up. I… got myself all gussied up to come here. Came out of the basement,” Obama said. “It’s just like, ‘What, come out of the house?’ But we’re doing great. The girls are good. Barack is working. We’ve got projects going, so we’re staying busy and traveling.”
Though the Obamas continue to live not too far from the White House, the former first lady said it wasn’t weird to look at her previous home.
“No it’s not. I mean, you know, the thing I learned in those eight years is that home is where you make it, and we were in the White House for eight years, but it wasn’t the house. It was us in it. It was our value and our love for each other,” Obama explained.
She then joked about their new normal life, including her being able to answer the door herself and former President Obama complaining he got “shortchanged,” because he “doesn’t have enough closet space,” while their daughter, Sasha, occupies a “two-room suite.” “So he’s really hating on her,” Obama joked.
Though the conversation was light, DeGeneres took a moment to discuss how “frightened” she feels amid the current political climate.
“I mean, we are this mosh pit of society, and sometimes there’s a rub,” Obama said. “But the thing that we have to remember — the thing I learned in the eight years I was in the White House — was that what we do every day in our lives, the good things that we do every day and we know we do it, we show empathy, we care for each other, you know, we do have a lot in common. That’s what it means to lead with hope and not fear. And that’s all we have is hope.”
Obama proceeded to encourage the daytime host and her audience to love and show empathy to one another.
“You can’t do that only when people make you feel good or safe. We’ve got to do it all across the board. We have to be an open-hearted nation, and that’s who we are. And that’s the truth of who we are. We can’t lose sight of that. So, let’s just keep living our lives like that every single day and forget what they’re saying in Washington. That’s not necessarily who we are. We know who we are, and I know who this country is.”
Obama also comically addressed the awkward gift exchange she and her husband had upon first meeting President Donald Trump and first lady Melania.
Apart from Obama, a lineup of special guests stopped by to celebrate DeGeneres’ 60th birthday celebration, including Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Vergara, Chance the Rapper, Jamie Foxx and Jimmy Kimmel. The star-studded celebration kicks off Thursday and continues on Friday, Feb. 2.
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