To celebrate 20 years of O, the Oprah Magazine, each issue, we're spotlighting Visionaries—remarkable people who could change the way we look at the world.

*Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of O, and the interview was conducted before the coronavirus pandemic. Since, Mrs. Obama shared some updated answers, which appear below on
You want to be Michelle Obama's friend. That's understandable. She's a person of wholly admirable intelligence, grace, kindness and dedication to making the world a better place. Of course, Michelle Obama would be the first one to downplay that kind of hype about Michelle Obama, but (a) she won't read this till it's in print, so she can't stop me, and (b) some people live up to the hype.

One of the most remarkable things about the former first lady is that if you're lucky enough to spend time with her, you feel like maybe you could be her friend. She seems to accept her place in history without letting it define her or dictate her behavior. Despite her extraordinary achievements and experiences, she's ordinary folk. She's fun. She's funny. She shares her fires. She'll get in a blanket for a comedy hit, then punch you on the shoulder like a sister for sassing her. She'll ask you call her Michelle, and someday you might have the guts to do it.

In her memoir, Becoming, she candidly discusses the challenges she'd faced in her life and her feelings about what that life has become for her and her family. Millions read it and were moved by her honest and open humanity. On her Becoming tour, I saw what her story means to tens of thousands of people here and abroad. Now, does that last sentence imply that I traveled with Michelle Obama? Yes, it does. Because while I admire her motto "When they go low, we go high," I've yet to attain it.

The point is, I'm not saying Michelle Obama and I are friends... but even if I did, I think she's nice enough to not publicly contradict me.

Michelle Obama and I are friends.

20 Questions for Michelle Obama:

1. What's your no-fail, go-for-it motivational song? Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) by Stevie Wonder—even after hearing the song hundreds of times at Barack's campaign events!

2. What's most important for your mental health? Not looking at too much social media.

3. Who's your hero? My mom, Marian Robinson. She's always been my rock, my guiding light through whatever fog was clouding my path. And she's quick with a joke when I just need to laugh.

4. If you could send a note to yourself in 2030, what would it say? "I hope you're still waking up every morning excited by the possibilities of who you might become. I hope you never think you're done growing."

5. What's the one thing in life you're so happy you did? Getting married and having kids. Life with Barack, Malia and Sasha has been one grand adventure, and I'm so proud of the two brilliant, bold young women that Barack and I raised.

6. Who's the one person who changed your life? See above! Before I met Barack, I was all about checking off the next box—law school, law firm, nice car. But he taught me the art of the swerve, how to take life as it comes and follow your passions wherever they lead.

7. What gives you hope? All the essential workers who are risking their lives on our behalf during this crisis give me hope. As do the people across America who are stepping up to help, from checking in on their neighbors to bringing groceries to folks in need.

8. What the world needs now is... For all of us to look out for each other. This pandemic is teaching us how interconnected we really are, and long after this is over, I hope we can remember that we are so much stronger when we are working together.

9. What's your favorite place on earth? Right now it's my home! It's been an adjustment, but I'm so grateful to be able to do work I'm passionate about—and catch up with my girlfriends—just fine from my living room.

10. What should be required reading for every human? At least one novel by Toni Morrison. Every one of her stories demands that the world take the lives of black girls seriously. We were so lucky to have her.

Read the full story here: Michelle Obama Answers 20 Questions for O Magazine


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