The Transformation Of Malia Obama From 6 To 22 Years Old

As the oldest daughter of former President Barack Obama, Malia Ann Obama probably barely remembers a time when she did not have to pose next to her father for photographs during events filled with important people.

Even before her father became the first African American to win a presidential election in 2008, Malia was already in the public eye as the daughter of a U.S. senator. Barack represented Illinois in the Senate from 2005 to 2008 after serving as a state senator since in 1997. Coming into the world on July 4, 1998, Malia was born into public life, often accompanying her father to speeches and dinners alongside her mother, Michelle Obama, and younger sister, Natasha, commonly known as Sasha.

As if the normally tricky preteen and teenage years needed any added pressure, Malia spent that entire phase of her life at the White House during Barack's two terms as president, from 2009 to 2017. She went from being a cute child to a beautiful, successful young adult right before the eyes of America — and the world! While she was always there in the photographs, Malia tried to remain under the radar as she came of age. However, her transformation has been a beautiful one. Keep scrolling to see how much Malia has changed and evolved right in front of our eyes.

Malia was only 6 when Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate

Malia Obama was an adorable 6-year-old when her father, Barack Obama, was elected to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate in 2004, marking the beginning of her life in the limelight. On November 2nd, after she helped her dad cast his vote, per Vanity Fair, Malia sat in Barack's lap and Sasha sat in Michelle Obama's in a hotel room as the family waited for election results to roll in. As the favorite to win the race against the Republican candidate, Alan Keyes, Barack and his family smiled widely throughout the night, while Malia showed off her missing front baby teeth. 

The Obamas were still mainly just a regular family back then, though they were starting to become more prominent. In July 2004, Barack gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, which put him firmly on the map as a charismatic politician, as History pointed out. With calls for unity among "red" and "blue" states, Barack set the stage for what would later become his successful presidential campaign. "The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States," Barack said in the speech (via YouTube).

Malia Obama sometimes hoped her father wouldn't win in 2008

Between 2004 and 2007, Barack Obama continued to strengthen his position in America's political arena, drawing increased attention to his charming family along the way. Curiosity about the Obamas skyrocketed in February 2007 when then-U.S. Senator Obama announced his candidacy for the 2008 presidential nomination at the Old State Capitol, where none other than Abraham Lincoln kicked off his own political career, as The New York Times reported. He, of course, brought his family along. Obama stood in front of the opulent Sugar Creek limestone structure alongside his gals. Malia, 8 years old at the time, protected herself from the frigid Illinois temperatures in a black coat and white scarf, with matching gloves and beanie, as seen in YouTube videos of the occasion.

That was a busy year for the whole family. But even on the campaign trail, Barack and Michelle Obama tried to establish a routine for the girls, they told People in 2008. The proud parents gave Malia and Sasha chores, like setting the table and doing the dishes, in exchange for a $1 a week allowance and made sure they had movie nights together as a family, per the report. According to People, Malia said in 2007 that she sometimes hoped her father would lose the election, though Barack said it came down mainly to her feeling nervous about leaving Chicago. 

Malia Obama finally got a dog when she moved to the White House

Less than a year later, Malia Obama would pack her toys and other belongings and move into the White House, putting a life of relative normalcy entirely behind her. But it was not all bad. In his victory speech, Barack Obama told the nation that his daughters would finally get a dog. While picking a puppy is not necessarily a hard task for most, it was in the case of the Obamas. That's because Malia is allergic to animal fur, so the family had to find one that was hypoallergenic, according to The Mercury NewsThey also wanted to adopt instead of purchasing and reconciling both criteria proved to be tough. "Obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things, I think, is a pressing issue on the Obama household," Barack said (via The Mercury News).

The search for the perfect First Dog riled America. The Obamas did not find a shelter pup, but the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy gifted them a Portuguese water dog, as The Washington Post reported. The Kennedys had Portuguese water dogs themselves, and the senator learned that one of his dog's litter mates had given birth to puppies that were in need of forever homes, according to The GuardianThe girls named him Bo after a cousins' cat. In 2013, the Obamas welcomed a second Portuguese water dog named Sunny.

Barack Obama tried to keep his daughter away from the spotlight

On the campaign trail in July 2008, Michelle and Barack Obama agreed to do an interview with Access Hollywood — and they brought Malia and Sasha along, who were 10 and 7 at the time. The girls were a big part of the interview, answering questions and being cute in front of the camera. The Obamas probably expected the interview to generate some interest in their young daughters, but they just did not anticipate how strong the reaction would be. He later called their decision to include them a "mistake" and the four Obamas never sat down for an interview together again, as Today reported in 2008. "I think that we got carried away in the moment... I was surprised by the attention it received," Barack saidAfter learning the lesson, Barack and Michelle Obama worked diligently to keep their daughters' lives as private as humanly possible.

Early on, Malia proved to be a hard-worker. While attending high school at Sidwell Friends School, Malia interned in television studios in New York and Los Angeles, indicating that she might be interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. According to i-DMalia interned on the set of the Halle Berry-led miniseries Extant, acting as a production assistant, which often includes menial tasks. "She was down to do whatever a PA is asked to do, and I had wild respect for her for that," Berry told Andy Cohen in 2017. Such high praise!

Malia Obama kicked off her career as a TV writer

In 2015, Malia Obama spent the summer interning at HBO, which included spending some time on the set of Girls working with the show writers, as Teen Vogue reported. Her performance earned her praise. "She is so smart," Lena Dunham, the show's creator and lead actor, said on SiriusXm Satellite Radio. "I once asked [Malia], 'What's your favorite movie?' and she was like, 'Well, do you want me to list by my favorite director, actor, or cinematographer?' And I was like, 'You are smarter than me, let's just be done with that.'" Girls' showrunner said they were teaching Malia the tasks performed by their writer's assistant, according to Vanity Fair

A year after, Malia switched gears and accepted an internship at the U.S. embassy in Madrid, Fox News reported, a move that caused many to wonder if the young Obama was interested in following in her father's footsteps. But in 2017, during her gap year between high school and Harvard, Malia landed an internship at The Weinstein Company film studio in New York City, as Page Six noted, showing where her true interests were. The soon-to-be Harvard grad is said to have landed a position as a writer on one of Donald Glover's projects as part of his Amazon deal, The Hollywood Reporter noted in February 2021. Hive is reportedly already in the works and will center around a woman inspired by Beyoncé, the report detailed. What a powerful résumé for a 22-year-old!