The Obamas Enter Multiyear Creative Partnership With Netflix

Former president and first lady will produce a mix of content

Barack and Michelle Obama will produce scripted and unscripted series, docuseries and features. Source: Getty Images
Headshot of A.J. Katz

For years, Barack and Michelle Obama took their message directly to the people. They’re doing it again, this time in a slightly different way.

The former president and first lady have officially entered into a multiyear agreement to produce films and series with Netflix.

According to a statement released today by the streaming service, “The Obamas will produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docuseries, documentaries and features.”

The Obamas will produce the Netflix content under Higher Ground Productions.

“One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience,” President Obama said in a statement. “That’s why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix—we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world.”

Michelle Obama said: “Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us and to help us open our minds and hearts to others. Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.”

Rumors have circulated in the entertainment industry over the past two months that the former commander in chief and first lady could form a creative partnership with Netflix. The New York Times reported in March that the Obamas were in “advanced negotiations” to produce a number of shows “that will provide him [Barack Obama] a global platform after his departure from the White House.”

This isn’t the first time a former president has moved into TV post-presidency. Former Vice President Al Gore founded the cable news channel Current TV in 2004 and later won an Emmy for his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Gore sold Current TV to Al Jazeera in 2013, which turned it into Al Jazeera America. It was shut down in 2016.

Al Jazeera America’s final program was a four-part documentary about President Obama.

“Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “We are incredibly proud they have chosen to make Netflix the home for their formidable storytelling abilities.”

@ajkatztv A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.