Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke on the importance of representation in a clip from an unreleased episode of her podcast, The Light Podcast, released exclusively to InStyle.
During the episode, which officially drops on Tuesday, Obama praised a few role models who regularly challenge the status quo.
“We’ve got so many role models. We’ve got Serena [Williams] now out there,” she said, shouting out the tennis superstar who announced her retirement in August 2022.
She also reflected on the lack of representation she had as a child, highlighting the importance of figures such as Williams for today’s youth.
“I didn’t have a Serena to look up to, somebody who was beautiful, strong, fast, outspoken. That wasn’t a role model for me,” she said.
This lack, she explained, is a primary reason why she writes the books she does, as she hopes her story will resonate with more young girls in a manner no story did for her in her youth.
“Why do I write these books? I have thoughts in my head, but I think the more stories that I can tell about a little Black girl from the South Side of Chicago who is working-class, there’s going to be some kid out there that’s going to see themselves in the way that I didn’t have somebody to see,” she explained. “And it is important for us to put our stories out there.”
She also gave praise to Mindy Kaling and Ali Wong for their contributions to the fields of television and comedy.
“I write about Mindy Kaling, now rewriting the whole story of who belongs in television. Ali Wong, who’s one of my favorite comedians. All of those women, their representation is so important. And that’s why representation and storytelling is important,” she said.
The podcast, which launched in March, features discussions in front of a live audience from her book tour for her second bestseller, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. During the forthcoming episode, Obama personally addressed a young Black audience member, highlighting the importance of representation for young girls like her.
“I want little girls like this little beautiful girl right there, yes you, yes you, to know that your story matters, that I see you with hair like mine and that beautiful smile, and you belong. And I want you to practice that message now every day so that you’re not like me at 58, wondering, ‘Am I good enough?’ when I know I doggone am good enough,” she said.