Netflix to release Michelle Obama doc ‘Becoming’


Becoming. If you enjoyed the intimacy of former first lady, Michelle Obama’s autobiography, then good news. Netflix has announced the documentary portrait of Michelle Obama titled Becoming will premiere next week.

The film, described as “an intimate look into the life of former first lady Michelle Obama” chronicles her 34-city book tour in 2018-2019 for her best-selling memoir Becoming. Obama’s promotional tour, managed by the concert promoter Live Nation, had the scale of a rock tour, with a string of dates at sold-out arenas. 


The film will debut May 6 on Netflix. In a statement, Obama said of the experience of the tour, “Those months I spent traveling — meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe — drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with. I treasure the memories and that sense of connection now more than ever, as we struggle together to weather this pandemic, as we care for our loved ones, tend to our communities, and try to keep up with work and school while coping with huge amounts of loss, confusion, and uncertainty.”

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Becoming was published in 2018 by Crown and has sold more than 11 million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages.  

Nadia Hallgren, a veteran documentary cinematographer making her feature directorial debut in Becoming trailed Obama on the book tour from city to city.

“To make this film feel intimate I knew I had to get close. In practical terms, that can be a hard thing to do with Michelle Obama,” said Hallgren. “For security reasons alone, she’s flanked by Secret Service everywhere she goes. She moves quickly and I had to learn to move with her — I filmed in tight, private spaces in a way that required the smallest possible footprint, but also allowed me to build a close relationship with her.”

“What I noticed most was how she listens and interacts with people and how they react to her,” said Hallgren. “There’s a magic that happens when people meet her — an afterglow and a boost in confidence. I wanted to translate this experience to the screen.”

Becoming is the latest film since former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama signed a landmark deal with the Netflix in 2018. The pair, who run Higher Ground Productions, were involved in Crip Camp, the Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht-directed film about a summer camp for teens with disabilities. Their first film, American Factory, won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar. 

The former first lady acknowledged the timing is difficult for a film about community, and that social distancing doesn’t come naturally to her: “I’m a hugger,” she said. ” It’s difficult to say “I’m here for you.” During the pandemic, Obama has read children’s books to kids stuck at home in an online series titled “Mondays with Michelle Obama.” “I’m here for you,” she said in her statement. “And I know you are here for one another.” 

“Empathy is our lifeline here. It’s what will get us to the other side,” said Obama. “Let’s use it to redirect our attention toward what matters most, reconsider our priorities, and find ways to better remake the world in the image of our hopes.