“Becoming” an emotional, inspiring portrayal of Obama’s story

Source Netflix
“Becoming” was initially published as a book in 2018. Netflix bought the rights for a movie based on the book in 2019.

An endless line of people wraps the bookstore. As the author calls out to the next girl who waits patiently, the girl slowly steps forward with her book in hand waiting to be signed. As she makes eye contact with the woman who inspired her for years, she cries in joy and struggles to find the right words to say. She’s about to meet Michelle Obama. 

“Becoming,” the Netflix documentary that debuted on May 6, portrays an inspiring and heartfelt journey based on the former First Lady’s 2018 memoir of the same title. The film focuses on race and takes the viewer on a journey of personal difficulties Michelle Obama experienced throughout her life, while adding humorous aspects that all tie-in together to create an enlightening piece.

While most of the documentary moves at a slow pace, one of the more compelling scenes that grabbed my attention was when Mrs. Obama speaks to smaller groups of teenagers. They ask her questions about how she overcame her sense of isolation growing up in Chicago while attending Whitney Young Magnet High School. They also ask her for advice on how to avoid becoming just a “stat” in the world. The questions and issues that the teenagers raise are revealing and relevant to all viewers, especially teenagers like myself who are trying to forge their path in the world.

Netflix

The documentary is 90 minutes long, and these scenes only take up a mere 10 minutes. The rest of the documentary surfaces personal stories of Mrs. Obama’s life before and after her experience at the White House. She takes the viewer along with her to revisit her childhood home in Chicago and also introduces us to her brother, Craig Robinson. These scenes are compelling as they feel unfiltered and showcase a side to her that typically goes unnoticed in the media. 

Occasionally the attention turns toward people who work for her, like her stylist and the head of security. Her daughters, Sasha and Malia, as well as her husband, Barack Obama, also make a brief appearance in the film, but these bits were limited and it would have been interesting to hear a bit more from their perspective. 

Mrs. Obama’s humble beginnings and the path that she took in life can serve as a source of inspiration to young girls and women who may feel that their options to progress are limited.”

Overall, the documentary’s exploration of race issues and social pressures as they relate to Mrs. Obama’s personal experiences take the viewer through an emotional and moving journey that will touch everyone in some way. The emphasis on self-belief is a point that particularly stood out in the documentary. When Mrs. Obama’s high school teacher told her that she was not good enough to go to Princeton, she used that as fuel and motivation that propelled her to attend the very same school.

“Becoming” is a compelling piece that uses Michelle Obama’s stories to inspire people of a variety of races and ages. Mrs. Obama’s humble beginnings and the path that she took in life can serve as a source of inspiration to young girls and women who may feel that their options to progress are limited. Watching the documentary made me believe in the saying “when there is a will there’s a way” and provided me with an insider view of the remarkable story of America’s First Lady.