Ava DuVernay on the Enduring Grace of Michelle Obama

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The director writes a testament to the first lady as Obama’s term comes to an end

This article originally appeared in Motto

Director Ava DuVernay penned an homage to the vibrance and boldness of First Lady Michelle Obama, highlighting the privilege it has been for the nation to have such an exceptional black female role model over the last eight years. The essay, on Elle.com, is excerpted from a new anthology titled The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own.

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Many of us saw a woman to be admired,” DuVernay wrote. “A woman to be trusted. Scratch that. Many of us saw a Black woman to be admired. A Black woman to be trusted. There it is.”

DuVernay praised the inspiring strength of the relationship between Barack and Michelle Obama, and the closeness of their family. She also nodded to a few more of the first lady’s most-beloved characteristics – grace, fashion sense, devotion to family and an absence of “silliness.”

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“Even after eight years of watching them daily in the press, the fact that the most powerful man in the world is a Black man is still breathtaking to me,” DuVernay wrote. “The fact that he goes home to a tight-knit, loving family headed by a Black woman is soul-stirring. That woman is Michelle. Michelle! That name now carries a whole world of meaning. And a whole world of memory. And a whole world of magic.”

DuVernay is the first black woman to be nominated for a best director Golden Globe. She’s also set to become the first black woman to direct a film with a budget of more than $100 million. She’s spoken out frequently about institutional racism and sexism, and in particular how Hollywood excludes people of color.

The Meaning of Michelle was released Tuesday.

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