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President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that he “teared up” while watching Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a movie about a black White House butler who serves seven presidents.
“I teared up thinking about not just the butlers who worked here in the White House, but an entire generation of people who were talented and skilled. But because of Jim Crow and because of discrimination, there was only so far they could go,” the president told radio host Tom Joyner. “And yet with dignity and tenacity, they got up and worked every single day and put up with a whole lot of mess because they hoped for something better for their kids.”
Joyner, who interviewed Obama at the White House along with radio morning show co-host Sybil Wilkes, asked the president to name his favorite part of the movie.
PHOTOS: ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ Premiere: Oprah, Forest Whitaker and Anna Wintour Walk the Red Carpet in NY
“My favorite part was probably some of the jokes Cuba Gooding Jr. told, but we can’t repeat them on the air,” Obama said, laughing.
Joyner added: “I know what scene you’re talking about, and I love that scene too.”
Obama said he thought the acting in the film, which included the president’s supporters Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, was “terrific.”
“I thought Forest Whitaker was wonderful,” Obama said. “And Oprah, my girl, she can act. She’s just a wonderful actress, so I’m glad they did it.”
Dani Weinstein, spokeswoman for the film’s distributor, The Weinstein Co., said that the company made the film available to Obama for viewing at his convenience, but she did not know when he actually watched it.
In addition to discussing the film, Obama talked about his relationship with some of the African-American butlers currently working at the White House.
“When Michelle and the girls and I first arrived, they could not have been kinder to us and warmer to us,” Obama said. “And part of it, I suppose, is they look at Malia and Sasha and they say, ‘This looks like my grandbaby,’ or ‘This looks like my daughter.’ I think for them to have a sense that we’ve come that far was a powerful moment for them, and certainly a powerful moment for us. We love them to death. They look after us just wonderfully.”
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