Typically, when someone in the public eye lists a television comedienne as one of their life’s inspirations, you expect them to be a famous comedic actress, not the first lady of the United States. But Michelle Obama continues to break the FLOTUS mold in her most recent interview with Variety. The first lady revealed that she gained a sense of self and independence from her childhood hero Mary Tyler Moore, the brilliant comedic actress who starred in the 1970’s eponymous comedy classic, about a 30-year-old woman who moves to Minneapolis to focus on succeeding in the male-dominated field of journalism after being dumped by her boyfriend.
“She wasn’t married, she wasn’t looking to get married,” Obama says of the The Mary Tyler Moore Show. “At no point did the series end in a happy ending with her finding a husband – which seemed to be the course you had to take as a woman. But she sort of bucked that.”
The first lady has been a champion of women’s issues and girl empowerment, with initiatives such as Let Girls Learn, an initiative to provide higher education to girls around the world, and The United State of Women, a conference on the state of affairs of women’s issues in the United States.
Obama also discussed her approach to the role of first lady, and why she’s decided to use pop culture platforms like late night comedy talk shows to promote her agenda. “What I have never been afraid of is to be a little silly, and you can engage people that way,” she says. “My view is, first you get them to laugh, then you get them to listen. So I’m always game for a good joke, and I’m not so formal in this role.”