Life

Meet the awe-inspiring women making television shows with the Obamas

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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These three ladies just landed the best job in show business.

When the news that Barack and Michelle Obama had signed a deal to produce television series for Netflix, the world rejoiced.

Coming soon to the streaming platform, the Obamas promised, would be a whole host of original content ranging from scripted television, unscripted series, documentaries and feature films, all told by a range of diverse and exciting new filmmakers.

“We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world,” Barack said in a statement at the time. 

Michelle added: “Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership.” 

Michelle Obama in New Orleans

We can’t wait for Obama TV! 

What with the Obamas, Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy all signing on to produce content for Netflix, it felt like the golden age of television had reached its apex and might never get better.

Now, we finally know who will be heading up the Obamas’ production company. It should come as no surprise, but the Obamas have hand-picked three awe-inspiring women to produce original content for them, and we couldn’t be more excited.

First up is Qadriyyah ‘Q’ Shamsid-Deen, who will serve as creative executive for the company. Shamsid-Deen comes from Ryan Murphy’s television division, where she worked on the award-winning American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Pose. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s also a Fulbright Scholar.

Alongside Shamsid-Deen will be Tonia Davis and Priya Swaminathan, who will be the co-heads and leaders of the Obama’s company.

Tonia Davis

Davis is the executive producer behind Hugh Jackman’s beloved The Greatest Showman musical and the Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn comedy Snatched. Before that, she worked at Disney on kickstarting the great live action reboot movement currently dominating modern cinema on movies including Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book.

Swaminathan previously worked at Annapurna, the highly respected independent film production company behind movies including Zero Dark Thirty, Phantom Thread and the forthcoming adaptation of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? starring Cate Blanchett.

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, Swaminathan worked on everything from film development to video games, television and interactivity at Annapurna, collaborating closely with directors including Spike Jonze, George Clooney and Bennett Miller, the director of Foxcatcher and Moneyball.

Priya Swaminathan (right)

This is an absolute crack team of female filmmakers who are about to start working on your next favourite Obama-approved binge watch.

“Our goal isn’t just to make people think,” Michelle said in a statement. “We want to make people feel and reach outside of their comfort zone. With their thoughtfulness, creativity and empathy, we know that Priya, Tonia and Q will find the common threat within every story to inspire us to be something more. I’m thrilled about this team as professionals, and as people. They’re wonderful.” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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