×

How the Oscars Landed the First Lady as a Presenter

One of the biggest surprises of this year’s Oscarcast was the first-ever appearance of a First Lady to present an award, as Michelle Obama announced “Argo” the winner from the White House.

Obama, wearing a Naeem Khan dress, had appeared at a dinner for the National Governors Assn. meeting taking place this week. She presented the award from the Diplomatic Room, fitting given the subject matter of “Argo.”

Kristina Schake, the first lady’s communications director to the First Lady, said in a statement, “The Academy Awards approached the First Lady about being a part of the ceremony. As a movie lover, she was honored to present the award and celebrate the artists who inspire us all – especially our young people – with their passion, skill and imagination.”

The White House also tweeted out a photo via official photographer Pete Souza.

The First Lady’s appearance was unusual, although Ronald Reagan gave a taped statement to the Oscars in 1981 and Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the gathering in 1941.

What would have been awkward is if “Zero Dark Thirty” won best picture, as the cooperation that the White House gave to the filmmakers came under fire from congressional Republicans, a prelude to further controversy over its depiction of torture.

Instead, the first lady delivered a statement about the power of movies to “lift our spirits and broaden our minds and transport us to people we have never imagined.”

She called the work of filmmakers “vitally important work” and added, “Every day, through engagement in the arts, our children learn to open their imagination, to dream just a little bigger. And to strive every day to reach those dreams.”

The first lady hosted a screening and Q and A with the makers of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” two weeks ago, and President Obama hosted a screening of “Lincoln” in November. But they also have a strong connection to “Argo” via executive producer George Clooney, a longtime supporter who hosted a fundraiser for Obama last May that helped raise almost $15 million.

More Voices

  • America Ferrera'Superstore' TV show photocall, Comic

    America Ferrera Blasts 'Send Her Back' Chant: 'Embarrassing and Shameful'

    America Ferrera has been a longtime political activist who has focused a large part of her work on immigrant rights. She’s now speaking out about the chant of “send her back” targeting Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar that was shouted at a President Donald Trump rally earlier this week. “It’s devastating and shocking and embarrassing and [...]

  • Game of Thrones

    HBO's Return to Emmy Nomination Dominance May Be Short-Lived (Column)

    As Hollywood braces for the coming streaming wars, HBO’s huge Emmy nomination haul this week sent a new salvo Netflix’s way: The streamer may have the volume, but HBO still has the goods. At least this year. HBO’s record-breaking 137 nominations came on the strength of just 23 programs — led, of course, by “Game [...]

  • Deadwood HBO

    Netflix, HBO Get Ready to Rumble as Emmy Nominations and Phase 2 of Voting Loom

    Last year, Netflix ended HBO’s 17-year Emmy-nomination domination, posting 112 nods overall (to HBO’s 108), continuing the service’s miraculous rise. Now comes the next goal, which may be in reach this year: Surpassing HBO’s all-time record. HBO earned 126 nominations in 2015, its all-time best and a number that Netflix could hit this year. It’s [...]

  • Ellen Sitcom Original TV Show

    GLAAD Chief: Hollywood Needs to Continue Playing a Role in LGBTQ Progress

    This Pride Month is not only about celebrating — it’s also about reflecting how far LGBTQ acceptance has come since the Stonewall riots catalyzed the LGBTQ movement 50 years ago, and about honoring the trailblazers and leaders who propelled LGBTQ visibility and issues forward in what many social justice experts describe as relatively lightning speed.   [...]

  • Matthew Shepard MOth Judy LGBT Activist

    Matthew Shepard's Mother: Why Hate Crime Is Only Conquered When We Speak Up

    In January, “Empire” star Jussie Smollett reported a violent attack at the hands of two men outside his Chicago apartment building. Local police and prosecutors said Smollett fabricated the event, which the actor still vehemently denies. More than a dozen criminal charges, including falsifying a police report, were filed and later dropped by state attorneys. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content