Michelle Obama Says She Won't Run for President at SXSW Chat With Queen Latifah & Missy Elliott
Michelle Obama isn't just the White House's resident fashion inspiration -- the First Lady of the U.S. is making it her personal duty to bring education to young ladies around the world.
For her special SXSW keynote presentation on Wednesday (March 16), Mrs. Obama called on high-profile supporters of the Obama administration's Let Girls Learn initiative as well as the #62MillionGirls campaign to discuss their passions and female empowerment. The opening montage served as a primer spotlighting the cause, featuring girls across the globe looking to education as a means to achieve independence and overcome hardships.
Beyonce's Parkwood signees Chloe and Halley performed a shortened version of Michelle Obama's girl power anthem "This Is For My Girls" as well as their songs "Baby Bird" and "Fall" before the discussion.
"This Is For My Girls" collaborators Diane Warren (who wrote the track, also featuring Kelly Clarkson, Jadagrace, Lea Michele, Janelle Monáe and Kelly Rowland), Missy Elliott and actress Sophia Bush then joined the FLOTUS in an uplifting discussion.
Host Queen Latifah set it off by asking the group about a pivotal moment that inspired them to take action. The First Lady shared an anecdote about the naysayers that motivated her to prove them wrong. "When I was younger, it was always the doubters," she said. "Growing up as a black girl on the south side of Chicago where the expectations for me were limited as I was trying to make my way to do good in school and attend college, there were people telling me what I couldn't do and how far I should dream." She added, "Now that I'm First Lady, I still see the affects of that doubting on so many young people, particularly young girls."
That launched into an impassioned conversation among the squad of sheroes about deflecting haters and standing up for a cause, even if your title is not Commander-in-Chief.
The ladies also shared which albums and artists made an impact on their lives. Warren cited The Beatles and Motown for their "genius songwriting" while Mrs. Obama gave a shout out to Stevie Wonder, who soundtracked her youth with albums like Talking Book and Songs in the Key of Life. Elliott applauded the event's moderator. "People like Queen Latifah, who is sitting on this stage, her album, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa. These women are the reason I am an MC," said Misdemeanor. "I became an artist because of their music. Queen Latifah taught us 'U-N-I-T-Y,' she taught us 'Ladies First.' Her music has done so much for me."
For Latifah, the keynote was a moment of near disbelief. "It's weird to write 'Ladies First' and be sitting with the First Lady -- it's surreal to me," she said.
Warren also spoke on penning "This Is For My Girls," saying, "I wanted to write the best female empowerment song I knew how to write. I'm so honored because Missy Elliott is on it -- she wrote the best rap ever. It's just about encompasses what we're talking about here. I'm just really proud of this."
Men also received a special shout out from the ladies, as Bush answered an audience member's question about what the fellas can do to support the women in their lives. "Listen to a woman you care about so you can hear what it's like on our end," the Chicago P.D. actress offered.
For the finale, Mrs. Obama discussed what she will miss most about the White House (her husband Barack is in the final term of his presidency). "Just experiencing this journey with young people, I'm gonna miss it as First lady but I'm gonna do it for the rest of life," she vowed.
She also said that she will not occupy the Oval Office as president in the future. "I will not run for president. I got these two young people at home. Being the daughters of a president -- just think about it," she told the Austin Convention Center crowd of her and Barack's two daughters Sasha and Malia. "C'mon young people, not so easy! They handled it with grace and poise but enough is enough. There are so many ways to impact the world. You don't have to be the president of the United States to do wonderful things."