What we learnt from Michelle Obama’s powerful interview with Meryl Streep

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  • The duo's conversation was every bit as candid and sassy as we'd hoped

    January 2017 will mark the final month of Barack Obama’s time in office, and as we prepare to wave goodbye to the First Family of the Unites States of America, we thought it was high time we looked back at one of Michelle’s best moments during her role as FLOTUS.

    Namely, when Michelle Obama invited Meryl Streep over for an intimate chat.

    The reason for the meeting? Michelle was interviewing the Hollywood actress for a feature in American publication More magazine – and their conversation was every bit amazing as you might expect.

    Michelle, 51, and Meryl, 66, discussed everything from their upbringings to mentoring their own daughters and the challenges women still face today.

    Here’s a round up of what we learnt…

    Both have a lot of respect for their mothers

    Meryl: ‘My mentor was my mother [Mary Streep]. [She] walked into a room and lit it up, and people were sad when she left. That, to me, is what really matters: who you touch and how. She was a mentor because she said to me, “Meryl, you’re capable. You’re so great.”‘

    Michelle: ‘It’s so interesting, because what you say about your mom is a mirror image of what I think about mine. If I point to anything that makes me who I am, it’s that I have a whole lot of common sense. I’ve got a good mind and a good ability to read people and situations. A lot of that is because that’s who my mother is.’

    Meryl and Michelle are raising their own girls to be strong

    Meryl: ‘People will say to me, ‘You’ve played so many strong women’ and I’ll say, “Have you ever said to a man, ‘You’ve played so many strong men?'” No! Because the expectation is [men] are varied. Why can’t we have that expectation about women? My girls [Mamie, 32; Grace, 29; and Louisa, 24] came into the world strong – which was terrifying.’

    Michelle: ‘I try to remind them that I actually do know the answers and that I don’t want them getting their best advice from another 14-year-old. I never sit down and lecture them about self-confidence. You sneak those conversations in when you’re talking to them about their friendships, or about the challenges they faced in a game, or something that their dad said that made them mad. That’s when I find they’ll hear the messages most.’

    They believe there is still a way to go before men and women are perceived as the same

    Meryl: ‘There’s another specific challenge facing women and girls right now: We’re viewed as equals – but we’re still not there yet. For the first time, we have the expectation that we can have a broad array of choices, that we could lead in almost any part of society. And yet we face resistance.

    ‘We see that here at home in our government – in the House and the Senate. We see that in our boardrooms. We see that in Hollywood. The challenge for our girls, I think, is dealing with that resistance. How can we lift and defuse it, how do we make it so our equality is not so threatening? Our girls are going to have to contend with that.’

    Michelle :‘Sometimes we, as women, are critical of each other’s choices. Should I have a career? What if I want to stay home and raise my kids? What if I don’t want power? … We’re all different people with different aspirations and goals.’

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