Obama Empire: What’s next from Michelle and Barack

Photo: Netflix

Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have been quietly building their own media empire since leaving the White House in 2017. There’s not a corner of entertainment they haven’t dipped their toes into – from a US$65 million joint book deal with Penguin Random House to Michelle’s successful self-titled podcast – and they’ve just launched a brand new series with Netflix: Waffles + Mochi.

The Obamas’ company High Ground Productions signed a lucrative multi-series deal with Netflix back in 2018, estimated at a chill US$50 million. 

Speaking of the deal, Barack said, “One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience.”

“That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix — we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

Since then, they’ve created Oscar-winning documentaries, programmes about their lives and now a charming children’s show with Waffles + Mochi. Here’s all the projects they’ve created for Netflix so far, as well as what’s coming up.

Waffles + Mochi

Photo: Netflix

Released on March 16, this family-friendly show sees two adorable puppets titled Waffles and Mochi travel the world to pursue their dreams of becoming chefs. Full of celebrity guest stars including Michelle Obama, Rashida Jones, Jack Black and more, the creators of Salt Fat Acid Heat and Ugly Delicious are also involved so you know you’ll be getting culinary entertainment excellence. 

American Factory

Wong He (left) working with Kenny Taylor (center) and Jarred Gibson (right) in the furnace tempering area of the Fuyao factory in Dayton, Ohio from the film AMERICAN FACTORY

Besides Becoming, this is one of the Obamas’ better-known projects. This 2019 documentary was the Obamas’ first film and it won them an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. The story follows what happened when Chinese company Fuyao set up shop in Ohio, opening a factory in a former General Motors in 2015 and hiring thousands of American workers. Delving into the tensions between working-class Americans and high tech China, it’s a fascinating look into post-industrial America and clearly, the Academy Awards thought so too.


Photo: Netflix

Michelle Obama’s memoir biography dominated bestseller lists when it was released, spawning spin-off merchandise and a sold out multi-city book tour. This documentary of the same name delves into highlights from the book tour (which had celebrity guests such as Oprah, Sarah Jessica Parker and more) and explores her life.

Crip Camp

Photo: Netflix

Another documentary under the Obamas’ belt, this true story revolves around disabled teenagers who attended a New York camp in the 60s and the start of the disability rights movement in America. 

Future projects include documentaries Exit West, Satellite, Tenzing, The Young Wife, The Firekeeper’s Daughter, Great National Parks, The G Word with Adam Conover, Ada Twist, Scientist Bloom and Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

Learn more at barackobama.com and obama.org

See also: Highlights from Michelle Obama’s first podcast, featuring Barack Obama

In this Story: #culture / #entertainment