Despite the fact that their father was the president of the United States and under the entire world’s scrutiny for eight years, Barack Obama’s daughters managed to keep a pretty low profile during their time in the White House. Now college-aged, the former president’s oldest daughter Malia is starting to branch out and make headlines of her own. From what she did with that gap year before college to what really went on during Lollapalooza, here’s some insight into Malia’s life.
She visited a lot of schools during her college search
One of the most stressful moments in a high school student’s educational career is deciding on which college to attend. As the daughter of two Harvard graduates and, of course, the president of the United States, Malia’s decision likewise wasn’t easy.
According to the New York Times, the president told his daughter “not to stress too much about having to get into one particular college.” The Times reported that Malia was choosing between “Ivy League schools, liberal arts colleges and at least one top-ranked public university.” According to the Times, Malia visited a number of school during her decision-making process, including Brown, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania on the East Coast as well as Stanford and UC Berkeley on the West Coast.
Michelle Obama told Seventeen that she doesn’t want her daughters to feel they have to “choose a name” when it comes to deciding on a college. “We live in a country where there are thousands of amazing universities,” she told them. “So, the question is: What’s going to work for you?”
She took a gap year after graduating high school
Malia graduated from Sidwell in 2016, but the New York Times reported that instead of heading to college that fall she would take a year off. Not only did she want to wait for the end of her father’s second term, but her final college choice — Harvard — actually recommends gap years.
“Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way,” Harvard’s website states, claiming that about 80-110 students defer their start date each year.
She interned at the U.S. Embassy in Spain
To say that Malia was busy during her gap year would be an understatement. To kick things off, she spent summer 2016, her first summer as a high school graduate, interning at the U.S. Embassy in Spain. Whether this means that Malia is interested in following in her father’s political footsteps is unclear since after the internship was first reported, there wasn’t much news about it. Real news, that is.
In the summer of 2017, a full year after her internship in Spain, fake news started circulating that she was fired from her internship for smoking marijuana. It was, as we said, fake news. The now-defunct website that first “reported” the incident reportedly had an About Us page that claimed it “uses facts that don’t exist and relies more on imagination than the truth.” Unfortunately that didn’t stop people from latching on to the rumor, showing once again that it’s really important to check your sources.
She protested the Dakota Access Pipeline
Though Malia took a gap year from school, she didn’t take a break from the political life. During her time off, she protested the Dakota Access Pipeline. In an interview with Seth Meyers, Shailene Woodley (who famously got arrested for her involvement in the DAPL protests) revealed that Malia attended Sundance Festival “to hear what the chairman from Standing Rock had to say and some of the water protectors had to say.” She can’t run for president until 2033, but it looks like Malia might have a future in politics!
She had other flashy internships
One might think that the daughter of a former United States president would have no issue finding a job after college graduation. However, like any normal college student, Malia took on some internships during her time off from school — though her positions definitely weren’t your average, boring data entry gigs. Instead, she gravitated toward the entertainment industry.
In 2014, she got to work as a production assistant on the set of the (now canceled) Halle Berry show Extant. “She was fantastic,” Berry said in an interview with Andy Cohen. “She was down to do whatever a PA is asked to do.” Then in 2015, Malia worked on the set of HBO’s Girls. Lena Dunham told Howard Stern that Malia is “so smart” and that she was interested in doing “all the jobs.”
She’s interested in film
Malia has no shortage of interests, it seems, and that doesn’t end with sports. In fact, one of her biggest passions seems to be film. While you may think her passion lies in television after those internships as a production assistant on Extant and on the set of HBO’s Girls, Malia spent part of her gap year between high school and college learning more about the film industry from producer Harvey Weinstein. Just before beginning her Weinstein internship, she was also spotted at the Sundance Film Festival at a screening of the film Beach Rats.
It probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise though, because Malia’s mother told People all the way back in 2012 that her movie buff daughter had an interest in film. “Malia has expressed some interest in filmmaking,” her mother said. “Just like her father, she is an avid reader, and she enjoys movies. But she’s a [high school] freshman, so she also knows she has years in college to explore her interest.” This is probably one reason that Malia toured colleges known for filmmaking, such as New York University, before ultimately deciding on Harvard.