Last night, Oprah Winfrey interviewed first lady Michelle Obama for her final one-on-one interview inside the White House for a CBS hour long special. This special marked Winfrey’s first interview on network television since her syndicated daytime talk series went off the air in 2011.
The first lady appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show several times, including alongside her husband, President Barack Obama, in the show’s final season. Winfrey famously endorsed the then-Senator during his run for the White House in 2007 and made several appearances on the Obama campaign trail.
The hour long interview drew 9.39 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in adults 18-49, and primarily focused on Obama’s eight years as first lady and life living in the White House, as well as her plans for the future and the legacy she leaves behind.
During the interview Obama stated that her greatest achievement was letting young women, particularly African-Americans, see “somebody educated, strong (and) outspoken, just seeing that on a regular basis.”
She also spoke about how hard it was for her to witness this particular election cycle—“As a citizen, to watch and experience, it was painful”—and why her powerful New Hampshire speech struck such a chord. “The context of that speech was unique…It was not a normal thing.” She added: “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual.” Still, Obama said that she and her husband are doing what they can to help smooth a path for the next administration.
President Barack Obama also made an appearance during the interview, discussing what surprised him about how his wife filled the role of first lady.
“We all knew she was brilliant and cute and strong and a great mom,” the president said. “But I think the way in which she blended purpose and policy with fun, so that she was able to reach beyond Washington on her healthcare initiatives, on her military family work, was masterful.”
Michelle Obama said she and her husband have grown closer in the last eight years, but added that her biggest sacrifice has been anonymity. She said she wasn’t sure if she’s ready to be a private citizen.
“There’s nowhere I can go in the world and just sit at a table and have a cup of coffee and watch the world,” she said.
Toward the end, Winfrey returned to a question she had put to Michelle Obama eight years earlier, when she asked about Obama’s prayers for her family.
Obama’s response at the time, Winfrey said, was that “we remain whole.”
“So now, I ask you, what is your prayer for our country?” Winfrey continued.
“It’s hope,” Obama replied. “My desire for this country is that we remain hopeful and that we find a place in our hearts to love each other. It’s really simple — just opening up our hearts to others, making room.”
If you missed the interview, Winfrey’s OWN network will then air a second showing of the special on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 9 p.m.