Despite the fact that she spent eight years living in the White House, attending speeches and state dinners, and rubbing shoulders with some of the most important people in the world during her father President Barack Obama's tenure, the eldest Obama daughter, Malia, managed to keep a pretty low profile during her time in Washington, D.C. Now college-aged, and trading in the White House for a Harvard dorm room in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the former president's daughter is starting to branch out and make headlines of her own.
From what she did with that gap year between high school and enrolling at Harvard, to what really went on during Lollapalooza (in 2016 and 2017), Malia Ann Obama is more than just a former president's daughter. Here's some insight into everything you never knew about the first daughter and her life before, during, and after her eight years in the White House.
Here's proof that she was never spoiled
Just because she was the first daughter, doesn't mean Malia Obama was spoiled. While she and her sister did "sorta, kinda" get an allowance, it wasn't much, and it came with responsibilities. Malia's father told People, "Originally, we were giving her a dollar a week as long as she did all her chores."
And if you thought the girls got special treatment once they moved into the White House, you'd be mistaken. According to The New York Times, the Obama daughters still had to make their own beds and clean their own rooms. Malia's father told Barbara Walters on ABC News that, while his daughters are special to him and their mother, "they're not special, you know in terms of having to do their homework or having to do chores." Her mom Michelle added that the first thing she said to the White House staff was: "Don't make their beds. Make mine." While she may have said it with a laugh, we're pretty sure she wasn't joking.
She loves this sport, even though she's not a natural
Prior to moving into the White House, the Obama girls were already pretty busy. According to People, that included "soccer, dance and drama for Malia, gymnastics and tap for Sasha, and tennis and piano for both."
During another People interview with their father, he told the magazine how happy he was that his daughters were interested in things they weren't good at. "Malia loves soccer, but she's still so tall and gangly compared to some of these little kids who are zipping around her, although she's getting better. The fact that she's not good at everything right away … means learning lessons about having to work hard at something and improve." Always a supportive dad, he even made time during his presidency to watch her soccer games.
Malia and her sister are also apparently fans of professional soccer and wanted to meet Argentinean player Lionel Messi when they traveled to Argentina with their father. Unfortunately, not even the U.S. president can disrupt an international sports schedule, and the Obama daughters were unable to meet the soccer star.
She never has (and never will) have a birthday of her own
America's birthday is a time when American politicians are expected to take part in all the fanfare, picnics, and parades — events that are almost as important to the 4th of July as the fireworks. So when your father is one of those politicians and you happen to share a birthday with America, well, your birthday gets a little upstaged. Such has always been the case for Malia.
According to a 2009 Chicago Tribune piece, she spent many birthdays in hotel rooms, celebrating between her father's appearances. In 2007, for instance, she "spent her birthday following her father around southern and central Iowa," according to the Tribune. Things weren't much different in 2008 when, the Tribune reports, "She spent the evening in a Holiday Inn Express hotel room in Montana. During a break in campaigning, the family partied in the hotel room, ordering in dinner and a birthday cake and dancing to her favorite songs from artists such as the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana."
She still managed to have some epic birthdays
always made sure she knew her birthday was special, and she had some pretty amazing celebrations. Her actual birthday was often spent in hotel rooms, so her parents would throw a big sleepover party with all her friends once they were back home.
Another shocker: According to a 2008 interview with People, her mother Michelle said that they don't do birthday presents in their family. "We spend hundreds of dollars on a birthday party and movie tickets and pizza and popcorn," she said, her husband adding, "That sleepover is enough. We want to teach some limits to them. And their friends bring over presents."
In 2009, as the Chicago Tribune reports, she was the first in her family to have a birthday in the White House, with 20 of her girlfriends joining her at Camp David. Not too shabby, Malia. Not too shabby at all. Of course, does any of that compare to an 18th birthday with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monae? That's a tough call.
The Secret Service taught her how to drive
Coming of age in the White House means things the average kid takes for granted aren't necessarily a guarantee. Take, for instance, that sitting presidents aren't allowed to drive. That means Malia had to get behind the wheel for the first time without her dad's guidance. Sure, she might have Secret Service available to drive her around wherever she wants and whenever she wants, but like any teen, Malia was excited to learn how to drive herself when the time came.
"Driving for Malia, I think, gives her a sense of normalcy, like the rest of her friends are doing," Michelle Obama said in an interview with Rachael Ray (via CNN). "And my kids have got to learn how to live in the world like normal kids." But don't assume that means Michelle took the reigns in teaching her oldest daughter. Michelle revealed that the Secret Service wouldn't even let her get in the car with Malia and took on the task themselves.
Those Lollapalooza videos, though
Malia's first scandal started at Lollapalooza in 2016: A video surfaced of her smoking what appeared to be a joint. "You could smell the marijuana smoke," eyewitness Jerrdin Selwyn told Radar Online. Just a few months later, someone took another controversial photo of Malia at a frat house, according to Radar Online. The image shows Malia in a "smoking kills" t-shirt, ironically standing beside a bong. According to David Maranis' book Barack Obama: The Story, the former President Obama also had an interest in marijuana when he was younger, so he might not have been majorly concerned.
None of these controversies stopped Malia from attending the music festival again in 2017. While no nosy onlookers caught her smoking anything this time, she drew attention to herself with her wild dance moves. TMZ got video of Malia rocking on with friends, and even rolling around on the ground at one point. TMZ also has video of Malia getting whisked out of the festival on a golf cart, implying that she might've gone a little too hard.
Getting political during her gap year (with a splash of fake news)
Instead of heading to college right after graduating from high school in 2016, Malia took a year off before attending Harvard. To say that Malia was busy during her gap year is an understatement. First, she interned at the U.S. Embassy in Spain. It's unclear whether Malia has any interest in a political career as there wasn't much news about the internship. Real news, that is.
In the summer of 2017, fake news started circulating that she was fired from her internship for smoking marijuana. The now-defunct website that first "reported" the incident supposedly had an "About Us" page that claimed it "uses facts that don't exist and relies more on imagination than the truth." Unfortunately that didn't stop people from latching on to the rumor.
Regardless of her career ambitions, it's clear Malia has a penchant for political activism considering she protested the Dakota Access Pipeline. In an interview with Seth Meyers, Shailene Woodley (who famously got arrested for her involvement in the DAPL protests) revealed that Malia attended the Sundance Festival "to hear what the chairman from Standing Rock… and some of the water protectors had to say."
She's a total movie buff
Malia has no shortage of interests. In fact, one of her biggest passions seems to be film. While you may think her passion lies in television after those internships as a production assistant on Extant and on the set of HBO's Girls, Malia spent part of her gap year between high school and college learning more about the film industry at The Weinstein Company. Just before beginning her Weinstein internship, she was also spotted at the Sundance Film Festival at a screening of the film Beach Rats.
It probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise though, because Malia's mother Michelle told People all the way back in 2012 that her movie buff daughter had an interest in film. "Malia has expressed some interest in filmmaking," Michelle said. "Just like her father, she is an avid reader, and she enjoys movies. But she's a [high school] freshman, so she also knows she has years in college to explore her interest." This is probably one reason that Malia toured colleges known for filmmaking, such as New York University, before ultimately deciding on Harvard.
That stealthy secret trip to South America
While the public knew that Malia was going to be spending part of her gap year vacationing with her parents, and part of it working in film, no one knew that she was also going on a three-month gap year program to Bolivia and Peru through a Colorado-based group called Where There Be Dragons. When we say that no one knew she was going, we really mean pretty much no one other than her family and the Secret Service, and that includes the guides. While they knew someone in their midst was important (due to the need for American bodyguards), they didn't know who the important person was.
One guide told The New York Times, "There was a blonde girl, and we assumed she was the important one," only later learning, long after the trip was over, that it was Malia Obama who had joined them on their trek. In retrospect the guide called Malia "very humble" and "chatty," noting that she "spoke Spanish very well" and was "mesmerized by the Bolivian landscape."
President Obama wasn't ready to say bye to Malia, his best friend
Like most other teenaged high school graduates, Malia couldn't wait to fly the coop (even though that coop was the White House). "Malia is more than ready to leave," her father said during an interview with Ellen Degeneres prior to Malia beginning her freshman year at Harvard. However, both of her parents were anxious about Malia's departure, and likely grateful that she delayed it for a year with her gap year between high school and college.
In an interview with People, Michelle full on side-eyed her husband for calling Malia a grown woman, asserting, "she's still a baby!" Yep, sounds like the Obamas are just like any other family. The former president, on the other hand, says the hardest part about Malia leaving for college is that he's losing his best friend. "It's going to be hard for me not to have her around all the time," he told Ellen. "But she's ready to go. You can tell."
Rapper Swae Lee is interested... and has already planned their dream date
As a beautiful and charismatic woman in the public eye, Malia has undoubtedly garnered some attention from people looking to win her heart — and rapper Swae Lee is one of them. Lee described his dream date with Malia to TMZ, saying he wants to take her to the Bahamas. "We gonna go on a dinner date, 200 feet in the air at a 5-star restaurant," he said. Don't worry, Mr. President: Lee said he plans to go full gentleman and ask your permission first.
It seems, however, Lee is going to have to stand in line if he wants to date Malia. While attending her first Harvard-Yale football game in November 2017 as a freshman at Harvard, Malia was spotted locking lips with fellow student Rory Farquharson. While it's unclear if Farquharson has spent time with the rest of the Obama family, there doesn't appear to have been any permission granted by the former president. So maybe Lee still has a chance after all.
Who is Malia Obama's boyfriend?
Malia Obama began attending Harvard University in the fall of 2017. According to W Magazine, Obama had the gap year many college students could only dream of. She partied in Amsterdam, attended Lollapalooza in Chicago, and began her internship in New York City at Weinstein Company — thankfully now no longer run by Harvey Weinstein himself. Obama has also been spotted at clubs and hitting the streets of New York City with her bodyguards in tow. Though with her confidence and height of over six feet tall, Obama could probably handle her own!
As a student at Harvard University, where she enrolled in the fall of 2017 after that epic gap year, Obama has been getting to know her classmates — and the city of Cambridge — a bit better. After a couple months of getting used to Harvard life, pictures of Obama with a mystery man began to surface, which begs the question — just who is this guy?
Meet Rory Farquharson
The Harvard-Yale football rivalry has been ongoing since the first game (then a rugby match) in 1875, when Harvard beat Yale 4-0. It is still widely celebrated each year on the date of the annual football game, by students and alumni from both schools the world over. So of course Obama got in on the Harvard-Yale action, and she wasn't alone.
Shortly before Thanksgiving in 2017, TMZ released a video of Obama briefly locking lips with someone while tailgating her very first Harvard-Yale football game. That's one way to kick off a game.
At that point in time, the press didn't know who this young man was. However, it didn't take long to figure it out. He's now known to be Obama's rumored boyfriend, Rory Farquharson. Dating the former president's daughter doesn't exactly create the best opportunity for anonymity but the couple seems to still be going strong regardless. Here's everything you should know about Farquharson.
He's a smoker
Now that her reported beau has been revealed, Obama no longer has to hit the streets of New York City with just her bodyguards in tow. Just a few months after the Harvard-Yale game, Obama and Farquharson were photographed smiling at one another while walking and talking in SoHo, New York City in January 2018.
The two looked happy in the photos — yay! — but there was something disconcerting about what was revealed in them nonetheless. In virtually every picture from their outing, Farquharson can be seen with a cigarette in hand.
Perhaps this isn't necessarily too surprising as an estimated one-third of college students smoke, according to ABC News. Either way, it's not exactly a healthy habit. It may also go without saying that the effects secondhand smoke are quite awful too! But hey, at least the lovebirds are also carrying around bottled water to stay hydrated, right?
Is Farquharson a bad influence on Obama?
Unfortunately, Obama also seems to have developed the addictive smoking habit. Is Farquharson a bad influence on Obama? Maybe, maybe not. There's really no telling who started smoking first, but pictures have confirmed that Obama was the first one seen with a cigarette.
In an interview with Michelle Obama from 2012 reported by USA Today, she discussed Barack Obama's former smoking habit, "I know that his ability to ultimately kick the habit was because of the girls, because they're at the age now where you can't hide. I think that he didn't want to look his girls in the eye and tell them that they shouldn't do something that he was still doing."
Whether she picked up the habit from her dad or developed a "social smoking" habit, it's hard to say. Either way, let's hope both the former first daughter and her alleged boyfriend quit soon!
He goes to Harvard
Whether or not you think of Farquharson as a bad influence on the former president's daughter, there's no denying that he attends a good school. Like Obama, Farquharson is a student at Harvard University, one of only eight Ivy League schools.
According to The Telegraph, this is likely where the lovebirds first met. Though Obama is a freshman in the 2017-2018 school year after taking her gap year, Farquharson — who is the same age as Obama — is a registered sophomore in the 2017-2018 academic year.
While it is not known what Obama is studying, it seems her interests center around the arts. Farquharson, on the other hand, may be following in his father Charles' footsteps. Charles Farquharson obtained a law degree from Cambridge University and is now a chief executive at an investment firm in London. The Telegraph further reported that Farquharson followed quite a few banking-related accounts on Twitter so, if nothing else, the interest is there.
If you swoon over Brits, you aren't alone; it's no secret that most Americans love English accents. Obama may be part of that majority as her rumored love interest just so happens to be British.
The Telegraph reported that Farquharson grew up across the pond and attended a private boarding school where he was a member of the chemistry club. He was also deemed "Head of School" during the 2015-2016 school year. Not only was Farquharson a bit of a brain, he was also a jock as he played both rugby and golf. So that's what the Harvard application takes.
Much like Obama, Farquharson also interned before attending Harvard University. As opposed to New York, he spent time in Northern Ireland at the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building.
Obama's rumored man definitely seems ambitious! Would you expect anything less from the daughter of the former President of the United States? Those are big shoes to fill.
According to Harvard University's site, tuition begins at $43,280 per school year. Add room and board, and you're up to around $63,000. While the Ivy League school accepts financial aid and has made headlines for the far-reach of its financial aid initiative in recent years, Harvard definitely seems to favor the rich. Farquharson is no exception.
Rugby School, the prestigious boarding school that he attended in England, costs £11,584 ($14,339) per term, according to The Telegraph. Not exactly chump change, to be sure. The Telegraph also reported that the home where Farquharson spent much of his childhood is a £1.6 million ($2.27 million) house in Martlesham, Suffolk. That isn't the family's only abode, however, as the publication also notes a Farquharson home in London.
With a son in Harvard, an executive father, and a mom who is both an accountant and a lay person for London's Upper Tribunal, the Farquharson family seems to be doing quite well financially.
The royals and the Farquharsons go way back
Just because Farquharson is British, that doesn't mean he knows the Queen, right? Well, he just might. You may already view Farquharson as quite the privileged young man, but, believe it or not, he also has links to the British royal family.
As it turns out, Obama's main squeeze is the second cousin of Andrew Farquharson, Express reported. Andrew had a lengthy career of working alongside the Queen, first as her courtier and then as her Assistant Master of the Household at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II even made him a member of her own order of chivalry — pretty cool, wouldn't you say? In 2006, Andrew took on a similar role for Prince Charles before being let go in 2009 due to, as Clarence House claimed, a "review of costs." Hmm.
While his relative was working for the royal family, you have to wonder if Rory Farquharson ever got to meet the Queen.
Once upon a time he was a "lanky, over-confident public school boy"
Farquharson didn't mince words when it came time to write a letter to his 16-year-old self for his school's publication, Meteor. In it, he wrote, "You're a lanky, over-confident public school boy, desperately trying to prove to your friends how much of a 'lad' you are and have failed miserably." Ouch. He went on to tell himself to get a haircut because his "floppy mop" wasn't appealing to the ladies. Well, it seems he hasn't yet taken that advice, but, luckily for him, Obama must not mind much.
Farquharson's letter wasn't all mean. He advised himself to be open to change, stay true to himself, take responsibility for his own future, and care for his family and friends. "You'll have various relationships and constantly meet new people," he wrote, "You'll even spend time living abroad." Apparently Farquharson is stellar at predicting the future. Still, we bet he didn't think he'd end up dating one of President Obama's daughters!
Sure, Farquharson has the British accent that makes Americans weak in the knees, but does he have the look to pull off street chic? Of course! Vanity Fair claims that he and Obama both have "mastered New York City street style."
During his outing with Obama in SoHo, Farquharson was photographed in a puffy blue jacket, a basic gray tee, and dark pants, but all eyes were on his sunglasses — his tiny sunglasses. A popular trend in the '90s is being revitalized by the likes of Selena Gomez, the Kardashian and Jenner clan, Rihanna, and now, of course, Farquharson. Love 'em or hate 'em, if the college kids are jumping on a trend, you're probably going to be seeing more if it.
Will Obama follow suit with a pair of tiny sunglasses all her own? Time will tell but, even if she doesn't, she's fashionable enough without them.
He's not a Trump supporter
Although Farquharson was raised in the United Kingdom, he certainly still has his opinions on American politics. As Obama's supposed suitor, you'd have to assume his political leanings are Liberal rather than Conservative, right? Well, no matter his actual political affiliations, he's definitely not a fan of Donald Trump if his one-time social media activity is any indication.
According to The Telegraph, Farquharson has shared his criticism of President Trump via social media in the past. At one time, Farquharson even retweeted a post that speculated Trump's popular appeal would decrease throughout the year after being elected — a statement echoed by many.
While we can only speculate whether or not Obama has introduced her reported beau to her family, if Farquharson was a Trump supporter, dinners with the Obamas would probably get a little awkward. That is, if the smoking — and Michelle Obama's probable feelings about it —weren't already awkward enough, ahem.
He deleted all of his social media accounts
It seems there is always a cost associated with dating a public figure. Page Six reported that since he began dating Obama, Farquharson deleted his social media. While you may be disappointed to learn that all of his social media accounts — aside from very few pictures on Facebook — have been wiped out, it is understandable given the scrutiny that comes with high-profile relationships. Just ask Meghan Markle.
According to ABC News, when her relationship with Prince Harry became serious, Markle deleted her blog, stopped sharing photos of her life on Instagram, and stepped away from Twitter. A royal source told ABC News, "Ms. Markle is grateful to everyone who has followed her social media accounts over the years."
Although Farquharson is not set to become a duke nor prince, dating the former president's daughter is probably the closest you can get to the United States' version of royalty.
What would President Obama think?
While President Obama hasn't commented specifically on their relationship, he has discussed his thoughts about his daughters growing up and dating. When asked in a telephone interview by ABC News, "What are you going to do when the girls start dating?" President Obama responded, "Oh… that happened. You know, the truth is I'm pretty relaxed about it."
Obama continued, "For two reasons, one is Michelle… She's such a great example of how she carries herself, her self esteem, not depending on boys to validate how you look or, you know, not letting yourself be judged by anything other than your character and intelligence. And hopefully I've been a good example in terms of how I've shown respect to my wife so, I think, I don't worry about it because they're really solid smart girls — young ladies now." Obama then joked, "The other reason is because they've had secret service. There's only so much they can do!"
Now that Obama is no longer president, is Malia still protected? The Washington Post explained that, by law, the U.S. Secret Service can offer protection to presidents' children up to ten years after leaving the White House. Though it's unclear what the former president has decided. The Washington Post further explained that Malia's decision to take a gap year could very well mean that she won't take advantage of the Secret Service protection.
Nevertheless, there's no doubt that most everyone — including her alleged beau Farquharson — will be looking out for her well-being.