The Stunning Transformation Of Sasha Obama

When Barack and Michelle Obama welcomed their second daughter to the world on June 10, 2001, they probably never dreamed that almost everyone would know her name one day. Thanks to her father getting elected as the 44th President of the United States, Natasha (Sasha) Obama's name carries plenty of weight. Even though her dad was one of the most important people in the world, she grew up like most kids, squabbling with her older sister Malia Obama, going to school, playing sports, and taking music lessons. Sasha's grandmother on her mother's side, Marian Robinson, once told People that Sasha is just like her mom. "She's more determined. She's got her own mind made up," she told the outlet.

Aside from being headstrong, Sasha is also the jokester in the Obama family. Speaking to People back in 2008, Barack Obama revealed that his youngest daughter often has the family in stitches. "My younger one, Sasha, is just full of energy and the comedian in the family," he said. Growing up in the spotlight couldn't have been easy for Sasha — from learning how to navigate life in the public eye to dealing with criticism and learning how to become someone other than just the former president's daughter, Sasha has undergone quite a transformation. Join us as we take a walk down memory lane and discover how she's grown up into the woman she is today.

Sasha Obama had to move into the White House when she was a little kid

When Sasha Obama learned that her family might move to the White House, she wasn't exactly thrilled. Her parents tried to ease her and her sister Malia Obama into the idea of leaving their lives in Chicago behind to move to Washington, D.C. Michelle Obama told People that she and Barack Obama were trying to prepare them for the possible change. "Their anxiety has nothing to do with the White House; it has everything to do with what kids think about: 'If I have to go to a new school, will I make friends and what about my old friendships?'" she said. Barack flat-out admitted that Sasha and her sister were "not looking forward to moving." 

"I'm sure that there's a part of them that says we won't be heartbroken if things don't work out," he said. Of course, things did work out, and Sasha found herself moving into the White House when she was just 7 years old.

Knowing their kids were still young and impressionable, Barack and Michelle tried to limit their appearances on the campaign trail. "[O]ur job, more than anything, is to make sure that in addition to monitoring whether or not they're feeling sad or neglected at all, that they're also not feeling special because their dad is running for president," Barack told People. Michelle agreed, saying that she wanted them to know that all the applause wasn't real life.

She has never been easily intimidated

Anyone who's ever made the mistake of thinking that they could walk all over Sasha Obama has likely lived to regret it. Sasha is a force to be reckoned with, and Barack Obama said as much when he spoke to InStyle (via People) in 2020. When asked about the women in his life, Barack said that "they all have multiple badass qualities."

The former president recalled a visit to Russia when Sasha was somewhere between the ages of 4 and 6, and she refused to try caviar because she didn't find it appealing at all. "[O]nce she made a decision, she would dig in and couldn't be steered off it," Barack revealed. "We were trying to get her to taste caviar ... She was like, 'Mnn-nnh. No. Sorry. That looks slimy. It's nasty. I'm not going to do it — even if I've got to give up dessert.' And that part of her character has always been there." Barack also said that Sasha's sister, Malia Obama, basically describes her sister as the queen of confidence. "[She is] completely confident about her own take on the world and is not cowed or intimidated — and never has been — by anybody's titles, anybody's credentials. If she thinks something's wrong or right, she will say so," Barack said.

Sasha Obama got to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2011 and spoke with him in Chinese

When Sasha Obama's grandmother said that she was a determined young girl, she wasn't exaggerating. In 2011, Sasha was taking Chinese language classes, and former President Hu Jintao of China visited the United States, 9-year-old Sasha saw it as the perfect opportunity to practice her Chinese. "She's under 10 years old, and they're studying Chinese, and she wanted to have the chance to practice her Chinese with President Hu," White House deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, revealed while speaking to Chinese bloggers (via Reuters).

Sasha even invited some of her friends to meet the president with her. As her dad, Barack Obama, welcomed Hu to the White House, Sasha and her crew were waiting to greet their visitor, waving Chinese flags in welcome. Finally, Barack and Hu made their way over to Sasha, who got to exchange a few words in Chinese with the president. "Not every [child] has the opportunity to try out their first phrases of Chinese with the president of China, but she had that chance," Rhodes said.

She became good friends with Maisy Biden

Thanks to Joe Biden being Barack Obama's vice president from 2009 to 2017, Sasha Obama got to know Biden's grandchildren pretty well, and she really hit it off with Maisy Biden. The two had the same interests and played on the same basketball team at one point. Speaking with Dax Shepard for his podcast "Armchair Expert" in 2021, Barack said that Maisy and Sasha are still the best of friends. The former president shared fond memories of his time coaching Sasha and Maisy's fourth-grade recreational league basketball team, which was known as The Vipers.

Aside from playing basketball together, Sasha and Maisy also had some sleepovers. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee meeting in 2009, Biden recounted how his grandchildren, Maisy included, asked him whether they could have a sleepover with the Obama kids during the previous year's committee meeting. Biden's wife, Jill Biden, coordinated with Michelle Obama to arrange the sleepover in the hotel where the families were staying over, and Biden fondly recalled how he found his grandchildren asleep with the Obama kids, with Maisy and Sasha cuddled up close together.

When Maisy and her siblings spoke to "Today" after their grandfather won the presidential election, they spoke highly of Sasha and Malia, with Finnegan Biden saying that they all admired the Obama sisters. "[T]hey came out so grounded and humble, and they're so smart and driven, so I think we can only take advice from them," she said.

Sasha Obama sometimes had to deal with public criticism

When your dad's the president of the United States, you're bound to receive some public criticism at some point, and this became a reality for Sasha Obama and her sister, Malia Obama, when they attended a White House Thanksgiving ceremony.

It was the White House's 2014 annual turkey pardoning ceremony, and Barack Obama invited his daughters to make an appearance. While they were perfectly well-behaved during the proceedings, Elizabeth Lauten, who was then the communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher, didn't think Sasha and Malia's fashion choices or facial expressions were fit for the occasion, and she made her opinions known in a derogatory Facebook post, in which she criticized the sisters' short skirts, saying that they should "respect the part [they] play" (via PBS). She then went on to sling some mud at Sasha's parents as well. "Then again, your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model department,'" Lauten wrote. Oof! She also accused Sasha and her sister of not looking engaged enough during the ceremony. We can't even begin to imagine how terrible this must've been for the Obama sisters.

Luckily, many disagreed with Lauten's post and came to Sasha and Malia's defense. In fact, the backlash was so profound that Lauten ended up resigning and issued an official apology to the sisters.

She had Secret Service tailing her on her dates when she was a teenager

Going on your first date is already daunting enough, but having the Secret Service following your every move during said date must be nothing short of mortifying. Such was the life of Sasha Obama when she was a teenager. Barack Obama let the public in on what his daughters' lives were like in the White House while making an appearance on the "The Late Late Show" with James Corden. When Corden asked the former president if either of his daughters would ever consider working in public service, Barack was skeptical. "First of all, them as teenagers and having Secret Service guys follow them when they were going out on dates, I think probably has shut down their interest in public service," Barack quipped. "They still have PTSD from our guys talking into their wrist microphones and glasses as they're trying to go to a music concert."

Needless to say, Sasha likely won't be scrambling to land a job in politics anytime soon, and her father says that he's secretly glad about this because it's a volatile environment from which he'd rather protect her. He also took a moment to tell Corden how proud he is of Sasha and her sister. "They have turned into just exceptional young women. I could not be prouder of them. Not just because they're smart and accomplished, but they're just kind people. They don't have an attitude," he said.

Sasha Obama graduated from high school in 2019

On June 9, 2019, Sasha Obama graduated high school, and naturally, this milestone made headlines. Sasha attended the renowned D.C. private school Sidwell Friends alongside her best friend, Maisy Biden. The latter's grandfather, Joe Biden, shared a heartfelt Instagram post to congratulate his daughter on the special milestone, but Sasha's parents' social media feeds were quiet on the day. It's no secret that Barack and Michelle Obama have done their utmost best to try and protect their daughters from the spotlight, and even after the girls both graduated high school, they continued the trend of keeping their family life private. The only thing the media knew was that Barack and Michelle had both attended the ceremony, as did Malia Obama. Joe Biden had also been present to support his granddaughter.

Luckily, for those who were dying to see a shot of Sasha's special day, the school released an image of its graduating class on Instagram, wishing them well. "Congratulations to the Class of 2019! We can't wait to see the great things you will do!" the caption read. Sasha could be spotted in the picture, dressed in white and smiling with her classmates.

She went to the University of Michigan

It's no secret that Sasha Obama's sister, Malia, followed in her mother and father's footsteps and went to Harvard. Sasha, however, took the road less traveled and didn't opt for an Ivy League school. Ahead of her high school graduation, rumors were swirling that the youngest Obama sister had her sights set on the University of Michigan, and it turned out to be true.

Ahead of the first semester in 2019, The Detroit News chatted to some Michigan students who confirmed that, yes, Sasha was indeed on campus, unsuccessfully avoiding attention. "I was walking by pushing a vacuum and she walked out right in front of me," one student, Zach Lassen, told the outlet. "I said, 'Excuse me.' It was a crowded hallway with her and some Secret Service dudes," he added. Lassen admitted that the added security that came with Sasha's presence wasn't exactly ideal but conceded that having her on campus was "pretty cool." Other students were less starstruck and saw Sasha as just another student walking the hallways.

Of course, with Sasha not opting for an Ivy League school, speculation was rife that perhaps her grades didn't make the cut. Whether or not that is the case remains a mystery. Sasha eventually transferred from Michigan to the University of Southern California (USC) sometime in 2022. Rumor had it that she wanted to be closer to her sister, Malia, who was working in Los Angeles at the time.

Sasha Obama took part in Black Lives Matter protests in 2020

Sasha Obama might not be interested in public service (for now), but when she sees injustice and there's an opportunity to address it, she shows up to let her voice be heard. After George Floyd was killed in 2020, Black Lives Matter protests started to erupt across the country, and Sasha was one of those taking part in marches. When Sasha's father, Barack Obama, spoke to Anderson Cooper for CNN, he revealed that Sasha and her sister, Malia, believe in standing up for what is right. "What you and I might have tolerated as, 'Yeah, that's sort of how things are,' their attitude is 'Why? Let's change it,'" he told Cooper.

With that said, Sasha isn't just interested in taking to the streets, she wants to get her hands dirty and do the work to bring about the change she fights for. "They're not just interested in making noise, they're interested in what works," Barack said. He also added that Sasha cares about her country's future and believes that it can be bright. "And they're willing to work for it," Barack said. The former president also revealed that Sasha and her sister don't necessarily believe in cancel culture, but that they do feel a responsibility to hold those who treat others unfairly accountable.

She went viral on TikTok in 2020

If you want to become TikTok famous in an instant, just get Sasha Obama to make an appearance in one of your videos. While Sasha has managed to stay under the radar when it comes to social media, her mom, Michelle Obama, once suggested to Oprah Winfrey (via Hello!) that her daughters do have social media accounts but aren't using their real names. She added that she doesn't follow either of them, probably to keep eagle-eyed fans from figuring out which accounts belong to her daughters.

Despite not posting on social media, Sasha still managed to go viral on TikTok in 2020 when she made an appearance in one of her friends' videos. The first one was a video posted in October 2020, which showed Sasha lip-syncing to a song. TikTok had a mini-meltdown, and the video went viral almost instantly. It appears the clip has been deleted since. 

Two months later, Sasha was spotted in a friend's TikTok video once again, this time doing a dance to "Adderall (Corvette Corvette)" by Pop Hunna. TikTok users soon recognized Sasha and the video went viral once again, garnering millions of views. Fans expressed their desire to see more of Sasha online, with some pointing out how much they enjoyed seeing her having some good old teenage fun. "So happy that Sasha Obama is living her best life & doing teenage s***. Straight excellence," one person tweeted after the video went viral.

Sasha Obama moved into an apartment with her sister

After transferring from the University of Michigan to the University of Southern California, Sasha Obama moved in with her sister, Malia Obama, who was already working in Los Angeles at the time. In her book "The Light We Carry," their mom, Michelle Obama, said that Sasha and her sister managed to make their new apartment home, even though they were on a tight budget. Instead of opting for expensive furniture, Sasha and her big sister looked for deals at IKEA and shopped for bargains at yard sales and flea markets.

When Michelle visited her daughters, she was proud to see how much they'd managed to make do with the little they had. "They were sleeping on box springs and mattresses with no bed frame, but they'd found some pretty bedspreads to cover it all. ... They had a dining room table, though hadn't yet found affordable chairs," she wrote. Michelle told People that Sasha and Malia living together was working out really well. "It makes me feel really, really good. Not just that they're living together, but they're thriving together — and they're thriving on their own as individual young women," she told the outlet.

Her relationship with her sister improved a lot as she got older

It might be hard to believe when you look at Sasha and Malia Obama these days, but there was a time when they didn't get along. Speaking to "Today," their mom, Michelle Obama, said that the sisters went through a phase of squabbling a lot. "There was a period of time when they couldn't stand each other," Michelle said. At the time, she told them that one day they'll realize that they have a special bond because of the unique childhood they shared.

Michelle opened up some more about Sasha's relationship with her sister during her 2022 People interview, "I think that they realize that they have a unique bond because they're the only two who know what they just went through — growing up in the White House with the brightest spotlight in the world on you as you were going through adolescence and puberty. They uniquely know what that means for them," she said. 

Despite going through a phase of not getting along, things eventually took a turn for the better, with the former first lady saying that the sisters grew closer after leaving the White House. The fact that the two chose to stay together in Los Angeles is further proof to their mother that Sasha and Malia share a special bond. "[I]t feels good to know that the two girls you raised find solace at a kitchen table with one another," Michelle said.

Sasha Obama started dating Clifton Powell Jr.

After having to deal with Secret Service agents accompanying her on dates, it must've been a relief for Sasha Obama when she could finally go out with a boyfriend sans her security detail. The lucky guy was Clifton Powell Jr. — director, writer, and former college basketball player, and also the son of Hollywood royalty Clifton Powell.

The Daily Mail was one of the first outlets to break the news that Sasha had a new man in her life, a discovery that was, in part, thanks to Sasha's mom's appearance on Ellen, where she let slip that both her daughters have boyfriends. "Now they're bringing grown men home," Michelle told Ellen DeGeneres. "Before it was just like a pop band, now they have boyfriends and real lives," she said.

Sasha likely started dating Powell shortly after transferring to the University of Southern California. The Daily Mail published pictures confirming that Sasha and Powell were a couple, and the latter's father confirmed it when he made an appearance on the "Dear Fathers" podcast a few months later. "Mr. Obama has a daughter that's dating my son, and I have an opportunity and a responsibility to make my son responsible, gentle, kind, loving, and supportive," Powell said. "I text him all the time, and I said, 'Treat Sasha like you would want somebody to treat your daughter.'" Powell also noted that, at the time, Sasha and his son had been dating for over a year.

She graduated from college in 2023

Sasha Obama officially became a college graduate in May 2023. Barack, Michelle, and Malia Obama all attended Sasha's special day as she received her degree in sociology from the University of Southern California. As per usual, the Obama family didn't share any of Sasha's graduation pictures on social media, but PO' UP! shared photos of Sasha dressed in her academic regalia on its Instagram page.

While her parents were present for the ceremony, Sasha spent the evening with Malia and her friends. She was spotted filling up her car before making her way to Echo Park, where she had dinner with her homies. While the former president and first lady didn't post to social media on Sasha's graduation day, Michelle did hint at how proud she is of her daughters in a Mother's Day post on Instagram that same weekend. "Being a mom to Malia and Sasha has been the greatest gift of my life, and I am forever grateful to my mom for teaching me the importance of courage, empathy, and hard work — lessons that I've passed down to my own girls," Michelle wrote in the post.

Sasha Obama has been partying with the likes of Drake

Anyone who's ever graduated knows that feeling of sweet elation when you can put away your books and just have fun for a while, and it appears that Sasha Obama has fully embraced her post-student life. In June 2023, barely a month after her graduation, Sasha was spotted leaving a house party in Los Angeles in broad daylight, barefoot, and carrying her high heels in her arms along with some of her other belongings. It might just have been the timing of the shot, but the picture Hola! published showed her looking a tad irritated with the cameras (we don't blame her).

In August, she was spotted attending yet another party in Los Angeles, this time with the likes of Drake. Her sister, Malia Obama, was also at the gathering. It's no secret that the Obamas are big fans of Drake — he was featured on former President Barack Obama's annual summer playlists more than once, and when the rapper told VH1 News (via Rolling Stone) that he would like to play Barack Obama in a future biopic film, Barack later told Complex that he would be perfectly fine with it. Not only did the former president refer to the rapper as "talented," but he also revealed that Sasha and Malia are big fans. "Drake has — more importantly, I think — my household's stamp of approval," the former president said, adding, "I suspect Malia and Sasha would be just fine with it."