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‘Southside With You’ Star Tika Sumpter on Malia Obama: ‘Give Her Some Slack’

“I’m so hyper,” said Parker Sawyers, on the red carpet of the “Southside With You” premiere, presented by The Cinema Society and Miramax & Roadside Attractions, at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema in New York Wednesday evening. “Even this is taking a lot of energy to stand still.”

It was obvious that Sawyers, who plays Barack Obama, and his leading lady Tika Sumpter, who plays Michelle Robinson, were excited about the release of the film that brings to life a romantic first date that you could only dream of.

Although the pair never got to meet the Obamas before playing them, it seems it may have been a blessing in disguise.

“I think that would’ve been a lot of pressure and I didn’t want to do an imitation of her,” said Sumpter. “I wanted to embody the essence of her.”

The soon-to-be-mom also learned about loving herself and being open after portraying the First Lady.

“Throughout the journey, she opens up and you start seeing different things she realizes about herself,” she said. “Hopefully my daughter will take away some of that.”

Sumpter also gave her maternal two cents on the recent controversial response to news reports that accuse President Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia, of smoking marijuana.

“Listen, she’s a teenager. She’s young. She’s been great for eight years. Give her some slack,” Sumpter expressed. “There’s been other daughters in the White House who have done way more. You know [what] I mean? Let kids be kids. And hopefully I’ll give my daughter grace if I see a video like that as well.”

For Sawyers, it was easy to get into character as the future President.

“There wasn’t that much pressure,” he said. “It was just about me, playing a 28-year-old trying to get the girl.”

As for the most difficult part of his role? “Walking slow,” said the 6’4” actor, chuckling. “To walk slow in that romantic lens, I felt like I was going to fall over.”

It was a packed theater for the screening and most of the audience stayed for the full credits at the end to hear the song, “Start”, that executive producer John Legend composed specifically for the film.

The cast and creators then moved to the new and not yet open Harold’s Meat-and-Three at Arlo Hudson Square to continue the celebration, complete with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Sawyers’ energy carried on into the after party, even breaking out a few dance moves.

“Southside with You” bows Aug. 26.

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