It's 'important for the world to see different images of each other,' FLOTUS says

By Oliver Gettell
August 23, 2016 at 09:43 PM EDT
Paul Morigi/WireImage

Michelle Obama may be the most pop-culture-savvy first lady in recent memory: She’s equally at ease unveiling the Oscar winner for best picture, dancing with Jimmy Fallon, and singing in-car karaoke with James Corden.

Now in a new interview with Variety, Obama has shared her thoughts on the power — and importance — of using pop culture and mainstream entertainment to make a positive impact.

Like many Americans, the first lady identifies as “a product of pop culture.” She keeps a playlist stocked with Beyoncé and Rihanna songs, and she binge-watches shows including Orange Is the New Black and The Americans. But beyond her personal fandom, she also sees value in how entertainment can expand people’s horizons.

“For so many people, TV and movies may be the only way they understand people who aren’t like them,” Obama said. “It becomes important for the world to see different images of each other, so that we can develop empathy and understanding.”

Stressing the need for diversity in entertainment, she continued, “There are folks who now know black families — like the Johnsons on Black-ish or the folks on Modern Family. They become part of who you are. You share their pains. You understand their fears. They make you laugh, and they change how you see the world.”

That’s especially crucial “in a country where there are still millions of people who live in communities where they can live their whole lives not having contact or exposure with people who aren’t like them, whether that is race or religion or simply lifestyle. The only way that millions of people get to know other folks and the way they live … is through the power of television and movies.”

For more from the first lady, read her full Variety interview.