Rarely Known Details About Malia And Sasha Obama

The Obama sisters are all grown up. Malia and Sasha Obama were just 10 and 7 years old, respectively, when they first moved into the White House, and they transformed into beautiful young ladies in the public eye. In the two presidential terms that followed, the world looked on as the first daughters hit their teenage years and did their best to live a "normal" life in totally abnormal circumstances. They attended school full-time, held summer jobs, did chores, and yet, they still managed to get people talking about everything from their (seemingly) inappropriate outfits to their sisterly relationship. There were also plenty of stories about the Obama sisters that were totally false.

No doubt Malia and Sasha Obama hoped that once their father left office, the scrutiny would die down, but interest in their every move hasn't ceased much since they moved out of the White House. That being said, the former first daughters still have plenty of surprises up their sleeves. Here are some rarely known details about Malia and Sasha Obama.

Sasha Obama was very ill as an infant

Barack Obama has faced his share of hardships, both personal and professional. However, as he revealed in a 2012 campaign video, the absolute toughest moment in his life was watching his youngest daughter fall ill shortly after she was born. "Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old," Barack told a group of supporters, per Politico. "I still remember going to the hospital together and they had to give her a spinal tap." The father of two admitted the ordeal brought him to tears, as Sasha Obama's well-being naturally became his sole focus. "Your world narrows to this very small point," he mused. "There's one thing you care about and you don't care about anything else."

As Mayo Clinic explains, "Meningitis is an infection and inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord," which can cause serious harm, even death, if left untreated. As Michelle Obama shared in 2013, per NBC News, the illness came on suddenly and shook her to her core. "I will never forget," she told Reverend Al Sharpton. "... One hour she was fine, she was normal, she was happy, doing everything I was used to her doing and the next hour she was crying inconsolably, and that just wasn't like her." 

Luckily, the Obamas had a great pediatrician who recommended they rush Sasha to the hospital to begin treatment immediately, and Sasha made a full recovery in the end.

Malia Obama's gap year was controversial

Tens of thousands of American students take a gap year before starting college each year. In fact, Harvard University actually encourages folks to do so. And yet, when Malia Obama chose to do just that, her decision stirred up controversy. Barack Obama's eldest daughter graduated from Washington, D.C.'s prestigious Sidwell Friends School in 2016, but decided to defer her admission to Harvard University until the fall of 2017. 

During her time off, Malia vacationed with her family in Indonesia and took part in a three-month gap year program offered by Where There Be Dragons. For 83 days, she quietly traveled to Bolivia and Peru where, along with 11 other participants willing to pay $14,555 each, she learned about social movements and conservation efforts.

However, Malia also took part in some pastimes that proved to be a public relations nightmare. During the summer of 2016, a headline-making video surfaced allegedly showing the former first daughter smoking a joint at Lollapalooza. Just a week later, it was revealed that she had been at a wild house party on Martha's Vineyard that was shut down by police. To be fair, scuttlebutt about partying, smoking, and provocative dancing isn't really news unless you're the president's daughter. As a source cited by Radar claimed, Barack Obama supposedly had to show Malia some tough love. "This is the president's worst nightmare!" the insider mused. "The end of his term is in sight — and the carefully crafted image of a world-beating family is unraveling right before his eyes!"

Is Sasha Obama the reason her family never left D.C.?

When former President Barack Obama's two terms in office concluded, it seemed likely that the family would eventually return to Illinois, as it was their home state prior to the presidency. However, when he was asked about moving in March 2016, he admitted he wasn't sure what their future held. "We haven't figured that out yet," Barack told a group of ACA letter writers, per ABC News. "We're gonna have to stay a couple of years in D.C., probably, so that Sasha can graduate, 'cause transferring somebody in the middle of high school [is] tough."

Indeed, as The New York Times reported that May, Barack and Michelle Obama decided to rent an 8,200-square-foot, nine-bedroom mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood (home to many diplomats and politicians) for a cool $22,000 a month. Initially, the plan was to stay put in Washington, D.C. until Sasha Obama graduated from Sidwell Friends School in 2019, but it seems they liked their new lifestyle more than they planned. In May 2017, they bought the home for $8.1 million, with Barack's spokesman, Kevin Lewis, telling the Chicago Sun-Times, "Given that president and Mrs. Obama will be in Washington for at least another two-and-a-half years, it made sense for them to buy a home rather than continuing to rent property."

Interestingly, as of 2023, Barack and Michelle still haven't left and have continued to live in that very house.

As teens, the Obama sisters had no time for their dad

Just because they're the daughters of the former president of the United States, that didn't make Sasha or Malia Obama 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," dad Barack Obama 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 Barack admitted this stretch of time would be "painful," he was still 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.

Proud mom Michelle Obama echoed this sentiment when talking about her cool, independent daughters on "Good Morning America" (via ABC News) in 2022, as they led normal-as-possible lives, now in their 20s and out of the White House limelight. "Socially speaking," Michelle wrote in her "The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times" book, "Sasha and Malia are in that slightly wild, slightly ragtag flea-market stage of life, where new friends are exciting treasures that can be found almost anywhere."

​Baby Sasha Obama went 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 former first lady. Speaking at the White House Summit on Working Families in June 2014, Michelle Obama revealed she once had to take four-month-old Sasha Obama 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 Today). "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 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 Obama how to drive

When Malia Obama 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 former 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 Obama quipped (via E! News), 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," she continued. "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 have gotten in a little mother-daughter bonding behind the wheel after the family left the White House. "You know, I was joking the other day, I just want to ride around in a car with the window open," she said.

The Obama sisters weren't spoiled with riches

There's nothing average about growing up in the White House, but Barack and Michelle Obama actively strove to ensure their daughters had as average a childhood as possible. In 2008, prior to Barack's first presidential win, the couple told People that their children weren't spoiled simply because of their dad's high-profile career. For one, both ladies had chores, from setting the table to cleaning their playroom. In exchange, they would sometimes get a dollar, but even that wasn't guaranteed. "Originally, we were giving her a dollar a week as long as she did all her chores," Barack shared of Malia Obama. "It turns out that she's been doing her chores even without prompting from the allowance, which makes me feel guilty." Another surprising revelation was that the Obamas didn't give their kids birthday gifts. "We spend hundreds of dollars on a birthday party and movie tickets and pizza and popcorn," explained Michelle, while Barack noted, "We want to teach some limits to them, and their friends bring over presents."

Both Sasha Obama and her older sis also learned about good work ethic early on. In 2016, a 15-year-old Sasha got a summer job at Nancy's, a seafood restaurant on Martha's Vineyard. TMZ learned she was bussing tables and manning the register for 4 hours a day and earning $12 to $15 per hour, like everyone else. Meanwhile, when Malia was 15 back in 2014, she interned as a production assistant on Halle Berry's CBS sci-fi series "Extant."

They also had chores in the White House

If Malia and Sasha Obama thought moving to the White House meant getting waited on hand and foot, boy were they in for a rude awakening, as Michelle and Barack Obama made sure their daughters kept a strict schedule that included an 8 o'clock sharp bedtime and an ordinary routine of daily chores. Indeed, these former first kids were still expected to perform tasks like make their own beds, clean up their dog's bathroom piles, and get themselves ready in the mornings for school.

As Michelle explained to ABC News (via The New York Times), "That was the first thing I said to some of the staff when I did my visit [telling staff], 'Don't make their beds. Make mine. Skip the kids. They have to learn these things.'" It's unclear whether the Obama sisters' allowance for doing chores in the White House remained as admittedly slim as the $1-a-week they'd earned in those pre-presidential days, but in 2010, Barack opened up to "Good Morning America" (via the New York Daily News) about using their allowance as a means for Malia and Sasha to learn about managing their finances. "They're starting to get old enough where they may be able to earn some money baby-sitting," he said. "They've got their own savings accounts."

And if they don't stay on top of their household duties? "They don't get their allowance until they can prove that they've done their chores for the week," Michelle once told Yahoo! Shine.

First dog Bo was their reward for patience

Their allowances might've been scant, but the Obama sisters did get a very nice thank you gift from their parents after their dad won his bid for the White House: a Portuguese water dog named Bo Diddley. The adorable animal was a gift from Senator Ted Kennedy and fit the family's criteria for a desired breed — namely, he was a hypoallergenic dog, which was of chief importance because of Malia Obama's allergies. Bo was named by the young girls — drawing inspiration from a friend with a cat named Bo as well as Michelle Obama's father, who was nicknamed Diddley.

The former first family added a second dog, Sunny, in 2013 to help fill the void left by Malia and Sasha Obama growing up and not having as much time for Bo (or their parents, for that matter). As Barack Obama told CNN, "Bo was getting lonely because the two other puppies are grown up. And they still have some responsibilities for him, but they're not always around between school, sports practice, all that stuff. And so Bo was getting a little down in the dumps inside the house."

Sadly, Bo died of cancer in 2021, as Michelle Obama announced on Instagram. "Today our family lost a true friend and loyal companion," Barack tweeted. "For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives — happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and every day in between."

Malia and Sasha Obama were raised to play two sports

Former President Barack Obama is a big fan of basketball and football, but his daughters' recreational activity of choice (well, sort of choice) is tennis. Michelle Obama told crowds at the 2013 U.S. Open that she nudged her kids onto the court because of her own lack of access to the sport when she was growing up.

"It's a great way to stay healthy, to stay fit, it's a lifelong sport, it's something I've tried to tell my kids — I forced them into playing tennis, because I didn't want them to be like me, but it's a great way to stay active," she said of Malia and Sasha Obama. The former first lady also told The New York Times that one of her rules for her daughters was to play two sports — one they enjoyed, and one they didn't pick. "I want them to understand what it feels like to do something you don't like and to improve," Michelle explained. Malia, in particular, became very good at tennis and was even considered to be on track for a potential college career in the sport.

Malia is fluent in a second language and it's really come in handy

An estimated 15 million people in the U.S. speak Spanish as a second language and, as it turns out, Malia Obama is one of them. What's more, she's put it to good use on multiple occasions. For example, when the Obama family visited Cuba and Argentina in 2016, Barack Obama admitted to ABC News that his eldest did much of the talking and translating. "Her Spanish is much better than mine," he laughed. "And I'm hoping that she has a chance to get entirely fluent."

Indeed, a number of such opportunities presented themselves that same year. For one, ABC Spain reported that Malia would spend her summer as an intern in the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain. She then headed to Peru and Bolivia for the aforementioned three-month gap year program, and her command of the language came in handy as she lived with a family in Tiquipaya, Bolivia. As one of her guides, Gregorio Mamani, told The New York Times, "She was very humble, chatty, spoke Spanish very well."

Prior to that, Malia was immersed in Spanish during a 2012 Sidwell Friends School class trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. While there, students volunteered at an orphanage, visited archaeological sites, and practiced their language skills. As Barack shared during a 2013 speech in Mexico City, per HuffPost, "As a proud father I have to say that Malia's Spanish is getting very good."

Barack Obama isn't thrilled about his daughters dating

Malia and Sasha Obama have been exceptionally good at keeping their love lives under wraps — for the most part. In 2022, actor Clifton Powell confirmed that his son, Clifton Powell Jr., had been dating Sasha for over a year. At the same time, Malia was linked to music producer Dawit Eklund. Additional details are few and far between, but what we do know is that former President Barack Obama is your typical worried dad. 

In 2015, Barack spoke to GQ about watching his daughters grow up and start dating and admitted, "I've seen some folks glancing at [Malia] in ways that made me not happy." Meanwhile, in 2016, he joked with WDCJ (via ABC News) that at least he had the Secret Service on his side. Revealing that they'd accompanied his daughters on dates, the ex-POTUS quipped, "There's only so much these guys can do!" And he wasn't kidding. In 2021, Barack laughingly told James Corden of his daughters, "They still have PTSD from guys talking into their wrist microphones and glasses as they're trying to go to a music concert."

On a more serious note, Barack said he hoped his own actions toward Michelle Obama taught their daughters how they should be treated. What's more, he applauded his wife for being the ultimate role model for Malia and Sasha, telling WDCJ, "She's such a great example of how she carries herself, her self-esteem not depending on boys to validate how you look or, you know, not letting yourself be judged by anything other than your character and intelligence."

Malia and Sasha Obama 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 Obama, then 15, had been limited to Facebook only, while Sasha Obama, 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. "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."

By 2016, it seemed their tight leash may have loosened a bit, as the then-president let it slip that Sasha now had access to X, formerly Twitter. "Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you've sat behind the desk," Barack told a crowd in North Carolina while campaigning for the then-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." 

As of this writing, it seems as though Malia and Sasha either don't have social media accounts at all or they're simply secret and set to private — if it's the case of the latter, good luck trying to find these two online. Even mom Michelle told Oprah Winfrey in 2020 that she didn't follow her daughters' accounts.

School has always been a top priority for the Obama sisters

Education has always been important in the Obama household, and both Malia and Sasha Obama have excelled at their studies. After finishing high school in D.C., Malia decided to attend Harvard University (just like her parents!) and major in visual and environmental studies. Barack Obama once described her as a "capable, conscientious student," as The New York Times paraphrased, and indeed, upon graduating in 2021, she received an award from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for the 2020-2021 school year, when she was recognized with the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize for excellent undergraduate work and excellence in the art of teaching.

As for Sasha, she began her college studies at the University of Michigan but decided to transfer to the University of Southern California in 2022. She graduated the following year with a degree in sociology, and it seems she's just as serious about academia as her big sister. While we don't know of any prizes she may have received, Sasha actually made headlines in 2017 when she missed her dad's farewell speech in Chicago, Illinois, because school came first. "Where is Sasha Obama?" asked USA Today as fans speculated if she was forbidden from going out on a school night. Turns out, they were right. A senior official later told CNN that Sasha missed the speech because she had a science exam the following morning, and that was much more important.

Dropping the Obama girls off at college was brutal

Most parents can attest to the tremendous amount of emotion that springs up when it's time to drop their children off at college, and the former president and first lady had just as tough a time as anyone else. 

Following her gap year, Malia Obama enrolled at Harvard University in August 2017, as previously mentioned. When her parents dutifully dropped her off at the prestigious university, dad Barack Obama reportedly had a tough time keeping his composure, telling the crowd at a sports event, "For those of us who have daughters, it just happens fast. I dropped off Malia at college, and I was saying to Joe and Jill [Biden] that it was a little bit like open-heart surgery. I was proud that I did not cry in front of her. But on the way back, the Secret Service was off, looking straight ahead, pretending they weren't hearing me as I sniffled and blew my nose. It was rough." 

For a man who managed to lead the free world through many tough trials, it sounds like it's the home front that always mattered most to him. D'aw. Two years later, Michelle Obama opened up to People about getting Sasha Obama settled in her then-unannounced college dorm room. Noting that it was understandably "a little emotional" and that "the tough part [is] missing our girls," the proud mom noted, "We wanted to make it feel as normal as possible, given our family's circumstances."

Malia Obama reunited two other first daughters

It may surprise some to know that, despite the fact that their parents were/are political rivals, Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump once enjoyed a long friendship with one another. The trials of the 2016 presidential election may have changed things for a spell, but an incident involving Malia Obama seemed to reunite these fellow first daughters on the issue of privacy for the POTUS' children.

After Malia was photographed in a private moment of affection with her then-boyfriend, Rory Farquharson, and was also snapped in another smoke circle situation, both Clinton and Trump called out the unwanted attention in quick succession on X in November 2017. Trump tweeted, "Malia Obama should be allowed the same privacy as her school aged peers. She is a young adult and private citizen, and should be OFF limits." Then Clinton followed with a similar message, writing, "Malia Obama's private life, as a young woman, a college student, a private citizen, should not be your clickbait. Be better." Honestly? We couldn't agree more.

Malia and Sasha Obama were spoiled for their Sweet 16s

Turning 16 is often seen as a big deal, and when it came time to celebrate Malia and Sasha Obama's milestone birthdays, their parents went all out. Malia (who was 10 when her dad became president, as previously mentioned) was the first to turn 16 back in 2014. To celebrate, she took a birthday trip to Disneyland, where she was treated to VIP access to several rides. After that, Michelle and Barack Obama threw her a big bash and, to top it all off, she also got a car. "Ladies and gentlemen in D.C., watch out!" Michelle reportedly joked, according to the Daily Mail. "Malia Obama on the road — kinda frightening."

Sasha (who was 7 when the family moved into the White House) was the next to celebrate in 2017. She rang in her Sweet 16 with a bang at a lavish party attended by friends, as well as her proud parents. Photos of the fancy affair leaked online, showing the teen looking beautiful in a red silk dress from Jill Jill Stuart, and fans couldn't get enough. One fan praised her look, tweeting that it was "too much greatness," while another gushed on X, "I just want to say that Sasha Obama is IT."

Malia Obama's love-hate relationship with selfies

Given Malia Obama's celebrity status, it should come as no surprise that she's often approached by strangers wanting to snap a selfie. In 2017, Michelle Obama spoke about the public obligations her daughters have had to face — including selfies — while attending the marketing conference Inbound. Sources at the closed Q&A event told People that Michelle revealed how Malia was struggling with as many as 20 to 30 people asking her for photos every single day. The proud mama noted that while her daughters often decline photo requests, they're always gracious. That being said, Malia does agree to the occasional snap. In 2014, for example, she was spotted at Chicago's Lollapalooza music festival and agreed to pose for a photo with one attendee, although she politely turned down another, according to BuzzFeed News.

However, Malia, like most young people, isn't immune to taking her own selfies, which has also proved problematic. In 2015, the Independent reported that the White House was actually investigating how the rap collective Pro Era got an alleged selfie of Malia wearing one of their shirts, which they posted to Instagram to help sell the tee.

The elder Obama daughter took David Letterman down a peg

During a 2017 interview with former President Barack Obama on Netflix's "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman," the venerable late-night host recounted a never-before-told story about a run-in he'd had with Malia Obama when the two briefly crossed paths at a function at the White House. To introduce himself to the former first daughter, he said, "My name is Dave Letterman and I'm very happy to be here at the party, and thank you for inviting me to the party." In return, Letterman claimed that Malia responded with, "Yeah, you look like a guy who really knows how to party."

For his part, the funnyman told Barack that he absolutely loved the witty dig. The anecdote also got a huge laugh from the ex-POTUS, who then said, "She's a riot. ... She is funny." We wonder who she gets that from?

Those Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia Beanie Babies

Former President Barack Obama hadn't even been in office for a month before his family faced their first giant scandal: Beanie Babies seemingly ripping them off! Okay, maybe it was less of a priority than, say, the crashing U.S. economy at the time, but Michelle Obama still took the time to call out the collectible plush toymaker over its "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia" dolls.

According to The New York Times, the company that made the dolls, Ty Inc., "insisted that the dolls were not intended to depict the Obama girls," but the East Wing wasn't buying it. A statement from the office of the then-first lady expressed displeasure with the use of "young, private citizens for marketing purposes." Ty Inc. apparently didn't want to get on the wrong side of the White House, so the company "retired" the dolls one month after it started making them, a move that a spokesperson for Michelle said was "appreciated."

Anyone want to guess how much a "Sweet Sasha" goes for on eBay these days?

Both former first kids were bridesmaids in a staff wedding

In 2016, both Malia and Sasha Obama were invited to be bridesmaids in the wedding of two longtime Obama administration staffers: The former first daughters stood alongside Kristen Jarvis, Michelle Obama's former chief-of-staff, and Shuan West, a former secret service agent, as they said their vows.

Though the couple made its wedding announcement behind a PIN-protected account on The Knot, the Daily Mail reported that Jarvis went out of her way to compliment the younger Obama daughter, allegedly referring to her as "one of the sweetest and downright coolest people." Jarvis also allegedly wrote, "Sasha and I have had a big sister/little sister relationship since the very beginning and there is nothing I wouldn't do for this girl — and I know she would do the same for me."

Per TMZ, the Jarvis/West nuptials reportedly cost $300,000 and featured entertainment from R&B artists like Eric Benet, Kenny Lattimore, and Ledisi, so even if the Obama sisters had to wear hideous bridesmaids dresses, at least they got to do it at a pretty swanky party.

Sasha's post-White House living quarters sounded amazing

In her first interview since leaving the White House, Michelle Obama shed some light on the family's new digs, and it turns out Sasha Obama was the big winner in the situation. Speaking with Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle said, "Sasha actually killed in this house — she's got this two-room suite, it's all decked out. She's got like a living room area and a bedroom, and she designed it." The former first lady said that Sasha deserved the luxe treatment because, "She's the baby." 

As for how Malia Obama made out? "[She] got a room up in the attic somewhere. She's away at college. You don't waste rooms on college kids," Michelle said. Barack Obama didn't do much better than his eldest daughter, allegedly getting stuck with "the smallest room for his office" and being "short-changed" by not getting enough closet space. Feeling bad for Barry right about now? Hold that thought, because in 2017, the Chicago Sun-Times quoted the Washington Fine Properties listing of the Obamas' new abode: "gracious public rooms, 8-9BR/8.5 spa baths w/exquisite finishes, fully finished lower level w/au-pair suite, and approx. 8,200 finished sq.ft. Stunning oversized terrace/formal gardens, 2 car gar parking & gated courtyard for 8-10 vehicles."

Sounds like everyone made out just fine in this deal.

Donald Trump's election put the Obama sisters in a slump

According to Barack Obama, the election of Donald Trump to succeed their dad in the Oval Office was a bummer to his daughters because they believed in the messages of support he and Michelle Obama had offered on behalf of Hillary Clinton during the campaign. 

The ex-POTUS told USA Today, "They were disappointed. They paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign and believed it, because it's consistent with what we've tried to teach them in our household, what I've tried to model as a father with their mom, and what we've asked them to expect from future boyfriends or spouses." He added that he and Michelle have tried to foster resilience in their daughters. "They have not assumed that because their side didn't win or because some of the values that they care about don't seem as if they were vindicated that automatically America has somehow rejected them or rejected their values."

All that said, don't be too surprised if Malia and Sasha Obama don't follow in their father's footsteps into politics. In 2021, the man himself revealed on "The Late Late Show" that his daughters preferred to express their views and perform their acts of public service not through holding office, but rather via activism and attending protests. 

Malia and Sasha Obama's farewell slumber party

By the time an 18-year-old Malia Obama and 15-year-old Sasha Obama left the White House in January 2017, they'd experienced elite international travel, interactions with some of Hollywood's heaviest hitters, and a rare inside look at the inner workings of the U.S. government at its highest level. But when it came time to say goodbye to Pennsylvania Avenue, they did it in the most low-key and relatable way possible: by having a sleepover with friends.

Speaking with Today, Michelle Obama revealed that these former first kids simply wanted pizza and nuggets for the eight girlfriends they invited over on the family's last night in the White House. Asked whether leaving was difficult for the Obama sisters, Michelle said, "So that moment of transition, right before the doors opened and we welcomed in the new family, our kids were leaving out the back door in tears, saying goodbye to people."

The Obama girls inspired their dad to run for office

In January 2009, just after he was sworn in as America's 44th president, Barack Obama was asked by Parade to pen a letter to his kids. In it, he touched on the sacrifices he had to make as a father in order to pursue his political ambitions. "I know how much I've missed these past two years," he conceded, before delving into why he chose to run for office anyway. "I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours, and I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours," Barack explained. "In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation."

Even so, it wasn't an easy decision. In 2017, Barack told ABC News that he and Michelle Obama worried about being able to keep their daughters grounded under such unusual circumstances. Luckily, their fears proved to be unfounded, as Malia and Sasha Obama rose to the challenge. "They complained about Secret Service as they became teenagers," Barack admitted, but that was pretty much it. "They've handled it with grace, and I give Michelle most of the credit for how well they've done," he praised.

The Obamas love them some Drake

Malia and Sasha Obama are veritable music lovers, and that should come as no surprise given their dad's penchant for crafting headline-making playlists. As it turns out, though, it's Barack Obama's daughters who inspire his taste. As the former president told Snapchat in 2020, they play a big role in his song selection. "I will confess that I do consult with Malia and Sasha throughout the year," he shared. "I'm constantly listening to their music; sometimes by request and sometimes just because that's what's blaring in our house." He also revealed that, of the two sisters, Sasha is more into indie finds and even has a private playlist on SoundCloud that he's not allowed to listen to. "Sasha's more protective of her music," he mused.

One artist they'll always agree on, though, is Drake. In a 2020 Complex interview, Barack praised his talent and was all for the rapper playing him in a biopic. "Drake has ... my household's stamp of approval," he said. "I suspect Malia and Sasha would be just fine with it." Indeed, in August 2023, the sisters were spotted arriving at Drake's concert after-party at The Bird Streets Club in Los Angeles and reportedly didn't leave until 4 am, per Page Six. Previously, Drake also praised Sasha's style publicly, sharing a since-deleted snap of her to Instagram in 2017 which showed her sporting a hat from his clothing line, October's Very Own. "Style popper," he captioned it.

Both Obama sisters are smokers

Barack Obama has spoken openly about his struggle to quit smoking. During a 2009 press conference, he admitted, per Reuters, "Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes." That being said, he explained he never smoked in the house or in front of his kids, and it wasn't a daily occurrence. However, stress has understandably been a major trigger for the former POTUS and, as he revealed in his 2020 memoir "A Promised Land," he could smoke as many as seven cigarettes per day when things got hectic. That number went up to 10 with the pressures of being president, per CNN. In the end, Barack decided to quit entirely (with a lot of help from nicotine gum) because he couldn't stand the fact that daughter Malia Obama "frowned [when] smelling a cigarette on [his] breath."

Perhaps ironically, then, Malia herself has since taken up the habit, despite dissuading her dad and once wearing a DIY shirt that read "Smoking Kills." Page Six spotted Malia smoking a cigarette outside a convenience store in Los Angeles in October 2023, and she received plenty of flack online with folks claiming she was a hypocrite. Just weeks prior, Page Six also photographed Sasha Obama smoking a cigarette while leaving a Labor Day party in Los Angeles. Again, some folks turned to criticism, but others rushed to the Obama sisters' defense on Instagram, with several calls for people to mind their business and leave them be.

Malia Obama is writing for TV and film

Malia Obama is serious about writing in Hollywood, and she was OK starting at the bottom. In 2014, she landed her first gig, working as a production assistant on Halle Berry's "Extant," as previously mentioned. According to TMZ, she ran coffee errands and helped crew stop people from walking into shots. As Berry told Andy Cohen, "She was fantastic!" After landing a summer internship under Lena Dunham on the set of "Girls" in 2015, she worked in the New York office of The Weinstein Co. two years later, where she was tasked with reading scripts and choosing which ones were worth showing to execs.

The former first daughter's first major opportunity came from Donald Glover, who put her in the writers room for his Amazon thriller series "Swarm." As he told Vanity Fair in 2022, "I feel like she's just somebody who's gonna have really good things coming soon." He was impressed by Malia's work ethic and her writing, as was series co-creator Janine Nabers. So much so they let her pen an entire episode titled "Girl, Bye." "[It] is probably one of the wildest episodes," Nabers told ET. "... Some of her pitches were wild as hell, and they were just so good and so funny — she's an incredible writer." 

Glover also decided to mentor Malia and produce her debut short film. Not that he'd let her off easy. As he told GQ, he made it clear: "You're Obama's daughter. So if you make a bad film, it will follow you around."

Malia and Sasha Obama decided to live together

It seems Malia and Sasha Obama do not like being apart for too long. When Malia moved to Los Angeles in 2021 to pursue a career in Hollywood, Sasha actually chose to transfer schools in order to be closer to her big sis. Originally enrolled at the University of Michigan, she switched to the University of Southern California in 2022, as previously mentioned, and the pair soon got a shared apartment in Brentwood, California, close to the USC campus.

As Michelle Obama told "Today" in 2022, the fact that they decided to live together was a pleasant surprise. "The thing I love the most is that those two girls are each other's best friends," she gushed, revealing, "There was a period of time when they couldn't stand each other, and I said, 'You wait ... you are gonna wake up one day and you're gonna look over at that other person and you're gonna know that you two share something very unique,' especially given what they've been through." 

The former first lady also offered some insight into what life is like in Casa Obama. She recalled visiting Malia and Sasha with Barack Obama and being invited over for drinks before dinner. "We were like, 'OK, let's see what this is going to be like,'" she recalled, joking, "The martinis were a little weak." What really amused them, though, was the Obama sisters asking them to use coasters. "I'm like, 'You never used a coaster in my house!'" Michelle laughed.