[INTERVIEW] Allison Samuelsâ Asks âWhat Would Michelle Obama Do?â

[INTERVIEW] Allison Samuels’ Asks ‘What Would Michelle Obama Do?”


[INTERVIEW] Allison Samuelsâ Asks âWhat Would Michelle Obama Do?â

to take steps to figure that out how to do that, whether it’s taking the advice in this book and going even further and going to see a therapist to deal with these issues we might not even realize we have.

Yes it’s harder to do well when you don't have these standard things in your life. But like Michelle, you have to think, “How do I bring these things I need into my life?”

EBONY: You mentioned that you believe the women on these reality shows are unhappy people.  What advice would you offer to them?

AS: My advice would be to get off T.V. and go get some help. Think about your children. Think about kids who watch those shows who totally take those things in. Understand you're negatively influencing a whole generation of children.  You get in a fight in a restaurant on T.V., you don't go to jail. In real life you go to jail. Kids don't get that. These shows send those messages without giving the whole story. I have pictures of Michelle Obama that I hold up when the girls [at The Boys and Girls Club] start fighting. I ask them, What would Michelle do? That’s who they need to look up to.

EBONY: You’ve interviewed everyone from Oprah to Denzel. Who were your best and worst interviews?

Taye Diggs and Teddy Riley were the worst. I'm not sure what went wrong there but I got nothing from them. Most [interviews] go ok. That was one of those interviews I just don't know what happened. I think Teddy Riley might have just been going through something that day but Taye Diggs -- I just got nothing. As a rule I am able to find a way to kind of connect with people.  Aretha Franklin was a little cold at first, but as soon as I asked her about Sam Cooke, who she had had a crush on back in the day, she warmed right up! I love Aretha.

But, Eddie Murphy, I'd love to interview him again because he was such a great interview, such a great interview. Anything you asked him, he would answer it.  He was very introspective and had no hesitation to admit the mistakes he’d made. It was 4 hour interview and I just love that he was so open and so willing to go there and talk about the people who had made him angry. It's rare that you have people that are that honest particularly at that level. I don’t think he’d do that same interview again today. I got him right before he shut down.

EBONY: In your research, what was something you were surprised to learn about Michelle?

AS: I wouldn’t necessarily call it surprise, but I'm amazed that, during the campaign, when she was told to soften up her image and lose the business suits and opt for dresses when she was criticized as being “too strong,” she just incredibly and quickly just sort of pulled back from that image.  She changed on a dime. She became what he needed her to be in order to be President. She did not let her ego get in the way. She understood the end game and decided, “I'm going to do what it takes for my husband.” Just being able to do that and make that compromise and to see the big picture of how it benefits everyone when you're able to take a step back and put your ego aside, that was very admirable.

EBONY: As you said, Michelle “understood the end game,” and in your book you recommend that all women have an end game in order to have the life they dream of. What’s your end game?

I know I wrote a story the year that Denzel [Washington] won his Oscar and I think the story forced Hollywood to think twice about passing him up for that Oscar again and he thinks so too. My goal is to write stories that make a difference. I'm writing about entertainment, it's not world peace, but I hope it helps the industry understand that they cannot ignore African Americans or distort our images and if they do, there are people who will bring attention to it. I want to keep on playing a role in people like Denzel getting the respect they deserve. 

Black women's roles in Hollywood and those images of us as women haven't changed, but I'll keep writing about it. I hope I’m remembered as someone who tried to advocate for women of color to get images of them on screen who reflect who we really are.

You can pick up a copy of What Would Michelle Obama Do? A Modern-Day Guide to Living with Substance and Style here and  follow her articles on The Daily Beast here.

Brooke Obie writes the award-winning

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