Hard as it may be to believe, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s two daughters, Malia and Sasha, are all grown up. As the Obama family prepares to vacate the White House, we’re taking a closer look at the super-famous siblings to see what they’ve done, what they’re doing, and what they’re about to do.
Malia is taking a gap year before college
Here’s something that will make you feel old: after moving into the White House at the young age of 10 in 2009, the Obamas’ oldest daughter, Malia, is now getting ready to go to college. In May 2006, the White House announced Malia was opting to take a gap year before heading off to Harvard University in 2017. The administration did not discuss what she planned to do during that break. So far, the hiatus has been a public relations nightmare plagued by scuttlebutt about partying, smoking, and provocative dancing—which is not really news unless you’re the president’s daughter.
Malia was an intern on Girls
In 2015, Malia became the envy of every teenage girl in America when she was hired as an intern on the set of Lena Dunham’s hit HBO comedy, Girls. Exactly what her intern duties involved remain unclear. To this day, only a few photos of Malia on set have been leaked. “It wasn’t clear if Malia did any work or would appear in an episode,” Page Six quipped at the time.
This isn’t the first time Malia has interned on the set of a hit TV series. In 2014, she spent a summer on the Halle Berry sci-fi drama, Extant. That internship was supposed to be top-secret, but it was eventually leaked to the press by The Wrap. “I can tell you that she is graceful, and lovely, and just charming and delightful…she’s pretty remarkable,” Berry’s costar, Camryn Manheim, told Entertainment Tonight, after word got out that Malia had been on set. “Any parent would look at her and be proud.”
Sasha was very ill as an infant
When she was a baby, Sasha suffered from a serious case of meningitis, which causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The illness took a major toll on the entire Obama family. “People ask me what was the hardest time in my life—they ask, well what about during the debt ceiling debate and this and that and the other thing,” President Obama told reporters in 2012 (via Politico). “Sasha got meningitis when she was 3 months old. I still remember going to the hospital together and they had to give her a spinal tap.” He continued: “Your world narrows to this very small point. There’s one thing you care about and you don’t care about anything else.” Fortunately for the family, Sasha made a full recovery.
Malia wants to be a filmmaker
Malia’s internships weren’t just a way for her to pass the time or simply use her family’s connections to rub elbows with the rich and famous. Malia has legitimate aspirations of becoming a filmmaker, reported The New Yorker in 2014. That might be one reason the New York press took such an interest in Malia’s reported visit to New York University in 2015. NYU has one of the top filmmaking programs in the country; alumni include everyone from Martin Scorsese to Spike Lee.
After President Obama’s two terms in office come to an end in January 2017, don’t expect the family to jet off to a private island and disappear forever. The Obamas are reportedly going to stay in the Washington, D.C. area for the foreseeable future. The reason: to let their youngest finish school. “We’re gonna have to stay a couple years in D.C., probably, so that Sasha can graduate,” the president told reporters at a luncheon in Milwaukee (via ABC News). “Transferring somebody in the middle of high school [is] tough.” Sasha, who turned 15 2016, attends the private Sidwell Friends School in D.C., so whether you love or loath Obama’s politics, you probably haven’t heard the last from our 44th president.
The girls have no time for their dad
Just because they’re the daughters of the President of the United States, doesn’t make Sasha or Malia any different from your average moody teenagers. “You get these teenage moments—they love you, but what I think really affects you most is they just don’t have time for you,” their dad told GQ magazine at the end of 2015. “It’s not an active disdain for you. It’s just their calendars start filling up and they’ve got all these friends who are much more interesting.” While Obama admits this stretch of time will be “painful,” he’s taking it all in stride. “The compensation you get for the fact that they don’t have time for you is: Nothing beats watching your children become smarter and cooler than you are,” he said. “And you suddenly will hear them say something or make a joke or have an insight and you go, ‘Wow. I didn’t think of that.'”
Malia isn’t dating (yet)
When he leaves the White House, President Obama won’t have to worry about keeping our country safe or juggling a divided Congress, but he’s going to have a whole new set of issues to contend with, like, you know, dealing with his daughters’ dating lives. Obama already says he’s none too pleased when he spots guys eyeing his oldest, Malia, who turned 18 in 2016. “I’ve seen some folks glancing at her in ways that made me not happy,” he told GQ magazine. In the past, he’s joked about his daughters dating, telling reporters, “What I’ve told them before is, as long as that young man is showing you respect, and is kind to you, then I’m not going to be hovering over every second.” So, basically, the president is just like any other nervous dad.
Sasha worked as cash register as a summer job
If you thought the Obama daughters’ summers were spent jetsetting around the globe and diving into swimming pools filled with gold coins, you’d be wrong. In fact, in August 2016, TMZ reported that Sasha spent a brief stint working the cash register and bussing tables at a popular fast food seafood joint named Nancy’s on Martha’s Vineyard. The Obama family has been visiting the restaurant for years (the above photo was taken in August 2009.)
Of course, Sasha’s stint at Nancy’s wasn’t totally normal. She reportedly worked only four hours a day under the protection of six Secret Service agents, and the gig lasted just one week. But, as anyone who’s ever worked in the service industry will tell you, one day behind the cash register comes with enough stress to last a lifetime.
The girls are (probably) on social media
Much like every other parent in the world, Barack and Michelle Obama have faced the difficult challenge of raising kids in the age of social media. Speaking to Barbara Walters in 2013, Michelle revealed that Malia, then 15, had been limited to Facebook only, while Sasha, then 12, wasn’t allowed on social media at all. “I still am not a big believer in Facebook for young people…particularly for them, because they’re in the public eye,” Michelle said (via People magazine). “Some of it’s stuff they don’t need to see and be a part of…So we try to protect them from too much of the public voice.”
In recent years, their tight leash may have loosened a bit. In 2016, the president let it slip that youngster Sasha now has access to Twitter. “Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you’ve sat behind the desk,” he told a crowd in North Carolina while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (via The Washington Post). “I mean, Sasha tweets, but she doesn’t think that she thereby should be sitting behind the desk.” How, and when, and where she tweets remains unclear, but if six Secret Service agents accompany her to a week-long summer job, good luck trying to find her.
Did a selfie of Malia leak to the internet?
In January 2015, Fox News reported that White House officials were investigating how a photo that appeared to show Malia wearing a t-shirt of the rap crew Pro Era made its way online. The photo initially made headlines after Pro Era posted it from its Instagram account with the caption, “Malia Obama rocking that classic Pro Era tee! Make sure you get your official Pro Era gear from theproera.com!”
In a separate interview with the now-defunct website Gawker, rapper Joey Bada$ claimed the group received the photo from a “mutual friend.” To this day, the authenticity of the photo has yet to be publicly verified. Let the conspiracy theories begin…
Sasha went with her mom to a job interview
As any working parent will tell you, juggling a career and family is one of life’s most difficult tasks. Just ask the first lady. Speaking at the White House Summit on Working Families in June 2014, Michelle revealed she once had to take four-month-old Sasha with her after the University of Chicago Medical Center called her in for a job interview.
“Who I was at the time was a breastfeeding mother of a four-month-old and I didn’t have a babysitter, so I promptly took Sasha to the interview with me,” she said (via the Today show). “I thought, look, this is who I am. I’ve got a husband who’s away. I’ve got two little babies. They are my priority. If you want me to do the job, you’ve got to pay me to do the job and you’ve got to give me flexibility.”
Michelle, of course, went on to become one of the hospital’s vice presidents, according to the report. “It was one of the best experiences that I had because (my employer) put my family first and I felt like I owed that hospital because they were supporting me,” she said.
The Secret Service taught Malia how to drive
When Malia celebrated her 16th birthday in 2014, the question on everybody’s lips was “Who the heck is going to teach her how to drive?” The first lady finally answered that question the following year during an interview with talk-show host Rachael Ray. “The Secret Service [actually taught her] because they wouldn’t let me in the car with her,” Michelle quipped, adding she hadn’t driven a car in seven or eight years. “Driving for Malia, I think, gives her a sense of normalcy, like the rest of her friends are doing,” Michelle continued (via E! News). “And my kids have got to learn how to live in the world like normal kids.”
Although the Secret Service did most of the heavy lifting, Michelle may get in a little mother-daughter bonding behind the wheel after the family leaves the White House. “You know, I was joking the other day, I just want to ride around in a car with the window open. It’s just like, I want to do that,” she joked.