Following on from their Best Documentary Oscar win last year for the eye-opening American Factory, Barack and Michelle Obama show no signs of slowing down their content output for 2021.
The former United States president and first lady have announced their full slate of shows for the coming year, including biopics, film adaptations, young adult dramas and a natural history docuseries.
Set up in 2018, the Obamas established Higher Ground a year after they left the White House following two terms in office, with the goal of producing scripted and unscripted content for TV and film. They also signed multi-year deals with Netflix and Spotify, in a precursor to the deals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would later sign in an effort to find their financial freedom from the British royal family.
"I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others," Michelle told NPR about the kind of stories the couple wanted to tell.
So, if you're on your third Friends re-watch, have no fear, there are plenty of original and diverse shows coming from the Obamas this year …
This adaptation of British-Pakistani Mohsin Hamid's 2017 book will feature Rogue One actor Riz Ahmed. It is about a couple who, along with other refugees, can transport to other parts of the world through supernatural doorways.
Tenzing is a biopic of the legendary Sherpa Tenzing who, alongside New Zealand explorer Edmund Hillary, became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. The docu-film is based on the 2003 book by Ed Douglas, Tenzing: Hero of Everest.
‘The Young Wife’
From Selah and the Spades director Tayarisha Poe, this drama looks set to skew into Twilight Zone territory, as it's described as a film that: "Follows Celestina, 29, on the day of her first wedding. Or not a wedding, exactly, but a party. A party where there's movement, and Celestina is out of sync. The guests flood in; a storm approaches."
The Obamas stick their toes into the popular young adult fiction genre with Firekeeper's Daughter, a thriller based on Angeline Boulley's coming debut novel. It focuses on a teenage Native American girl as she goes undercover to join in a police investigation on her Ojibwe reservation.
‘Great National Parks’
Hot on the heels of David Attenborough's huge success with A Life on Our Planet, the Obamas are producing Great National Parks. It is described as "a natural history docuseries that will explore some of the most wondrous national parks and wild spaces on Earth".
‘Ada Twist, Scientist’
Although it is aimed at preschool-age children, there’ll be plenty to learn for children and adults alike in this animated show, which focuses on Stem subjects. It's based on the book series by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts.
‘The G Word With Adam Conover’
If anyone knows what goes on in the corridors of power, it's the Obamas, so it makes sense they would want to share some of those insights – with a humorous slant, of course. Based on Michael Lewis's 2019 book, Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, The G Word With Adam Conover, it is billed as a hybrid comedy about everyday dysfunction in the government and politics.