Women are reshaping America’s leadership, as evidenced in the November midterm elections. Now a former first lady has been packaged as a seductive rock star. We had Madonna, Cher and Beyoncé. Now, there’s Michelle.
Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker were expected to be along when Michelle Obama launched her book tour in her hometown of Chicago on Nov. 13. Her inspirational memoir, entitled “Becoming,” is the first of a two-book deal with Crown, part of Penguin Random House.
In the deeply personal book, the former first lady talks about her roots on the South Side of Chicago, as well as her law career, her miscarriage, in vitro fertilization, balancing motherhood, the White House years and her distaste for President Donald Trump.
Although the six previous first ladies penned books, this one is different. Michelle, 54, is unique. By virtue of being the first African American first lady and mother, she has already made history. She is using her strong, authentic voice to inspire readers, her arena audiences and women throughout the world to gain the courage to become who they aspire to be.
The cover photo shot by Washington-based photographer Miller Mobley is casually glam, with Michelle’s long hair flowing. She wears an off-the-shoulder white tee and her warm smile is infectious and genuine.
Where will Michelle Obama’s hat land after her whirlwind tour of large arenas across the country? Is this well-promoted tour a trial balloon? She is trying to squash rumors and questions as to whether she, herself, is running for the White House. “I’ve never wanted to be a politician,” she has repeated over and over. But she does want to use her voice and make an impact. If not from the White House, at least at the top of the New York Times best-seller list. The Obamas also inked a deal with Netflix to produce a series and a film.
Don’t expect to catch her at a neighborhood Barnes & Noble or one of the few remaining indie book stores. This is prime time — with a big price tag to actually get a glimpse of the former first lady, albeit at a distance. It’s not your run-of-the-mill book tour; she’ll be playing large indoor arenas. Sales have been so swift that additional “shows” have been added in New York and D.C.
People connect with her, especially women. Roberta Pearson is traveling with a friend from Portland, Maine, to Brooklyn to catch a glimpse of the former first lady. “Just being in the same room with Michelle,” says Pearson, “gives me a glimmer of hope in the middle of this madness.”
Maya Litovsky, a New York City fashion editor, is a Michelle fan, too. “She has good ideas, is educated and articulate and would bring eight years’ experience to the White House,” says Litovsky.
Diana Crowley, a former Washingtonian, respects Michelle as well. “She believes in government as public service, a civic duty, as opposed to politics as a profession,” explains Crowley, now living in South Carolina.
Michelle has found where her voice works best. The price of talk has escalated to an all-time high. Her tour is being promoted by Live Nation Entertainment, the top concert promoters in the world. Prices are competitive with rock stars. In Dallas, a single ticket price in a flagship suite will set you back a mere $12,480.
The lucky ones scored tickets to Barclays Center. The demand for tickets was such that a second appearance has been added on Dec. 19. VIP tickets for “An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama” are listed at $3,000. If you want to attend in D.C. on Nov. 17, you can secure a ticket for $2,750 at Capital One Arena. And these venues are anything but intimate, with thousands of seats and large overhead screens.
Michelle doesn’t have to run for political office to assure that her voice is heard. The coffers are overflowing. Tickets were as high as $9,500 in other cities on Vividseats.com, a third-party website. And bids were high on the Biddingforgood site for two premium first-row floor seats at Boston Garden on Nov. 24. The seats then went to live auction, benefitting Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society.
The affluent want a front-row seat to hear firsthand what it was like to be America’s first African American first lady. And for others who didn’t get priced out, $29.50 secured a seat in the nosebleed section. After all, it’s history! She’s likely to continue making history from the platform of her choice.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to unspecified nonprofits, likely schools and community groups. Her 2016 campaign philosophy, “When they go low, we go high,” is a message of hope for younger generations. What can African American women become in America? There are no limits; even the presidency is no longer out of reach.
Michelle tweeted, “Truly humbled by the response to my upcoming book tour.” Each of the appearances is likely to gross millions of dollars, echoing her appeal, especially to women, white and black alike. And, as she’s said and believes: “Hope wins out.” Her message to others: “Own your story.”