More details have been revealed about what Barack and Michelle Obama are working on for Netflix.
The former US President and First Lady signed a deal with the streaming platform last year. In a statement announcing the agreement, the couple said they hoped 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.”
Now, it has been confirmed that their production company Higher Ground will initially focus on seven projects – three feature films and four TV series, one of which will be for preschool-aged children.
In a statement, Barack Obama said: “We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects. Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more, we believe each of these productions won’t just entertain, but will educate, connect and inspire us all.”
The three feature-length projects the pair are currently working on include two documentaries, American Factory – which follows what happens when a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in post-industrial Ohio – and Crip Camp, a look at a 1970s summer camp that was held near Woodstock and its effects on the disability rights movement.
The third project on that branch of the company will be a film called Frederick Douglass: Prophet Of Freedom. It will adapt the book of the same name by author David W. Blight, which was recently named as the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History and documents the life and work of one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement.
The four series will include the previously announced Fifth Risk, which is based on the book The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy by The Big Short author Michael Lewis. Listen To Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents will teach young children about food, while Bloom will show the issues women and people of colour faced in the fashion world in post-war New York.
Overlooked, meanwhile, takes its name from a New York Times obituary column and will tell the life stories of people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper.
Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said of the Obamas’ plans: “President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and the Higher Ground team are building a company focused on storytelling that exemplifies their core values. The breadth of their initial slate across series, film, documentary and family programming shows their commitment to diverse creators and unique voices that will resonate with our members around the world.”
Last year, comedian Chris Rock spoke out against the Obamas’ deal with the streaming service. “I don’t want to live in a world where President Obama is worried about his Rotten Tomatoes score,” he said. “I want him above that at all times. Make your money, but I don’t want [him] to be involved with that.”