The moment the news broke of the coming of Becoming on Netflix, I knew I had to watch it within 48 hours of debut. Guess what? Did it within 24 hours of debut and didn’t watch alone. Infact, it was scheduled as our family movie night of the week. It wasn’t just another movie to watch. It is the movie to watch. With my stand-by book, pen and brains, this article spilled at exactly Midnight Nigerian time.
Spoiler 1- I am a huge fan of Michelle and liable to exaggerate the greatness of this piece. My admiration is due to many reasons that won’t be shared now because sometimes you just love ice- cream and jollof rice and you don’t even know why. In this case, it is both. I know why and I don’t know why.
Spoiler 2- Stop reading now if you don’t want any spoilers. Minimal spoilers included.
From the very first scene of the movie, Michelle took charge of the story with her extensive presence, personalization and story telling and these are some lessons to be learned.
- Leadership is service and sacrifice. Michelle narrated how she had to unplug after 8 years in the White house. Those 8 years were years of ‘trying to do everything perfectly’. That hit deep. They weren’t just the 44th POTUS and FLOTUS. They were the very first African American POLOTUS. The sheer weight of that heritage is something they didn’t take lightly. Infact, Michelle narrated she sobbed when she got on the plane after their departure from the white house. Legacy! Such relief! Her Becoming Book tour allowed her to unplug for the first time in a long time.
- Family is everything: This is common knowledge right? But not easy to really execute. Michelle’s family was her rock before and after White house. Her personality, character cannot be diffused from such a balanced and centered upbringing she enjoyed from her parents (Fraser and Marian Robinson), brother (Craig), Grandpa and rest of her family. Her heritage forms a strong part of her identity. She will always be ‘Girl from the South Side of Chicago’. In her words ‘Our dinner table was the first table I felt I belonged to’, ‘My parents always made me visible’
She also paid tribute to her dad who had a way of making everyone feel loved. Touching moments here.
3. Listen to your voice, let your voice be the loudest in your head’. Michelle was told she couldn’t aspire to Princeton, that she wasn’t Princeton material. She eventually went to both Princeton and Harvard and studied law. Whilst there, she faced racism and classism but kept her head up. Lesson: Common! Don’t self-sabotage, when we feel our stories are ordinary, they are not. They are extra ordinary and our super- powers.
4. No matter who your partner is, have your identity: Being married to Barrack Obama meant Michelle had to tone down some of her aspirations for some time to balance the family but she was clear she never wanted to be an appendage to his dreams. She played an active role in his campaign. She carved a niche for herself with several awards for her Becoming book and Grammy award for best spoken word album. As First lady, she defined and led her own 4 initiatives centered on education and healthy eating. In her words ‘Equal voice to Barrack means partnership, I needed to be his equal and my happiness is not dependent on him making me happy’.
5. People will try to bring you down but stay high. If people could attack the first African American first lady of America, why wouldn’t they do same to you? She was labelled ‘Angry black woman’ and ‘Masculine’ but she realized she had to tell her own story which she did and keeps doing to build her image. In her words:
‘ I had to become strategic on how I present myself because that would define me for the rest of my life’
‘ We knew we had too much power to be careless with our words’
It was tough but when they went low, we went high’.
6. Train your children: As basic as this seems, their children laid their beds and did their laundry even in the White house.
7. Be ‘Good people’: The ease of relationship between Michelle and her staff was clear. They felt comfortable around her. She said thank you to them for the little things and they shared good times singing, dancing and just being ‘good people’. Key lesson here is to be pleasant with people that work for you no matter, how ‘little’ they are. If the POTUS and LOTUS danced, please dance.
8. Keep the romance going: During some of her tours, Barrack Obama pulled some romantic stunts which won’t be disclosed here. Please, go watch it!
Overall, it is a story of grit, identity, vulnerability and authenticity. When it ended, I wished it just started.
Dare to be vulnerable, you have to believe your story is valuable.
I decided to be vulnerable like Michelle Obama advised by sharing one of my Becoming stories here.
I did a Michelle Obama inspired photo shoot for my 2019 birthday. I never posted all these \side by side\ pictures because I felt it was a bit too much! A bit too ”shadowy and stalker-like” but posting today after 12 months. It is a case of preparation means opportunity and cannot think of a better time to release these. Tolu.
To celebrate Michelle Obama’s Becoming movie, i posted my first ”vulnerable” Tik tok video mimicking Michelle’s words. These words are dedicated to her and hope it inspires her like she inspires millions.
This is my #Becoming story and I hope it inspires you to do something you’ve doubted for a while! Do leave a comment on how this article impacted you please. Will you watch the movie this week? Or next? Will you share your Becoming story?
Tolu Adedeji, is a seasoned Marketing Director, with over 16 years of experience across brands and countries. She also sits on the board of one of the biggest multinational companies in the world., located in Nigeria. She is the author of Smart Sindara, the adventure series. She is a trustee of the Caring Friends foundation and an advisory of Irede Foundation. She is passionate about building brands, businesses, and empowering children, youths and women. She also cares a lot about children living with special needs. When she is not working, she loves spending time with family and dancing.