As two of the youngest presidential kids in recent memory, 18-year-old Malia and 15-year-old Sasha Obama have been largely kept out of the spotlight. But you can expect to see far more of them now that they’re all grown up and about to leave the White House. No matter how well you think you know the First Family, however, here are 20 things about the Obama kids that might come as a surprise.
20. Malia had some work experience on Girls and Extant
It’s not known what specific behind-the-scenes role she had, but in 2015 Malia landed an internship on Lena Dunham’s acclaimed HBO dramedy Girls. And the year previously, she also interned on Halle Berry’s sci-fi drama Extant, where she was described by star Camryn Manheim as “charming and delightful.”
19. Malia has filmmaking aspirations
And Malia’s entertainment internships weren’t as arbitrary as you might first think. According to mom Michelle, she hopes one day to become a filmmaker. In fact, in 2015 she reportedly visited NYU, a university with one of America’s most prestigious filmmaking courses. However, it’s Harvard that she’s actually enrolled in to attend in 2017, after she takes a year out from studies.
18. Sasha had meningitis as a child
In 2012 the press asked Barack Obama to name the hardest time in his life, and he cited the moment when his youngest daughter contracted meningitis aged just three months old. Thankfully, though, Sasha recovered completely from what is a potentially deadly infection.
17. The Secret Service taught Malia how to drive
Having not sat behind the wheel of a car for nearly a decade, Michelle Obama joked in an interview with Rachael Ray that she wasn’t allowed to teach her eldest daughter to drive. And so instead, Malia hit the road with none other than a Secret Service agent serving as her instructor.
16. Sasha has inherited her father’s moves
Obama has regularly proved he can bust moves better than any other President before, and rhythm obviously runs in the family. That’s because Sasha showcases her dancing skills as part of a troupe, performing everything from ballet and jazz to hip-hop and Afro-Asian fusion.
15. They’ve both been immortalized in doll form
The likeness isn’t particularly uncanny, but the company behind Beanie Babies created both a Marvelous Malia and a Sweet Sasha doll in 2009 in celebration of the pair becoming the latest First Daughters. However, Ty Inc. was forced to rename the dolls after Michelle disapproved of the marketing ploy.
14. They attended the same school as Chelsea Clinton
Both Malia and Sasha studied at “the Harvard of Washington’s private schools,” a.k.a. Sidwell Friends School, but they weren’t the first presidential offspring to attend. Chelsea Clinton, Tricia Nixon and Archibald Roosevelt were also educated there, as were Joe Biden’s grandchildren and Al Gore’s son Albert.
13. A Kenyan lawyer once offered livestock in return for Malia’s hand
While Malia no doubt has her pick of potential suitors, it’s unlikely she’ll receive a more bizarre proposal than that made by Kenyan lawyer Felix Kiprono. The young hopeful revealed to a Nairobi newspaper in 2015 that he plans to win her affections with the help of 50 cows, 70 sheep and 30 goats.
12. Malia once had a major crush on Nick Jonas
It’s not known whether Malia still has posters of him on the wall, but back when she was ten years old, she had a thing for Nick Jonas. Her father revealed her celebrity crush, in fact, during his 2008 Presidential campaign. And so she must have been thrilled when her mother brought her along to meet him when they both appeared on the same episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
11. They were both bridesmaids at their mother’s assistant’s wedding
Both Malia and Sasha were asked to be bridesmaids at the 2016 wedding of two people who met while working for the Obamas. Bride Kristen Jarvis used to be employed as Michelle’s assistant, while groom Shaun West was previously part of the President’s security detail.
10. Malia’s allergic to dogs
Malia may be allergic to dogs, but that didn’t stop her and sister Sasha from asking for one in the event of their father getting sworn in as President. And so in 2008, after winning the election, Barack duly obliged with a hypoallergenic Portuguese water dog, which his daughters named Bo. Aww.
9. Malia is the same height as her father
Malia may have only been knee high to a grasshopper when she and her family first moved into the White House. But on leaving it in 2016, the 6’1” tall teen can now look down on her mother, who is 5’10¾” tall, and match eye level with her father.
8. Sasha’s the youngest White House child since JFK was president
Sasha Obama was aged just seven when she and her then ten-year-old sibling moved into the White House with their parents in 2009. That makes Sasha the youngest child to live in the official POTUS residence since an infant John F. Kennedy Jr. way back in 1961.
7. Sasha is actually Natasha
The only thing that may surprise you about Malia’s moniker is that her middle name is Ann. Sasha, on the other hand, was actually born Natasha. And the youngest Obama actually reverted to her real name during a 2016 stint working at Nancy’s seafood restaurant at Martha’s Vineyard.
6. They both have codenames
Sticking with names, the two siblings were also given code ones once their father was elected as President. Malia’s is Radiance and Sasha’s is Rosebud, while Michelle and Barack’s are Renaissance and Renegade, respectively – and all of them were picked by the family themselves.
5. Lionel Messi turned down a meeting with them
So it turns out that not even the leader of the free world can pull every string. During a 2016 trip to Argentina, Obama revealed that he’d tried to arrange for his daughters to meet the country’s star sportsman, Lionel Messi, but that ultimately he was turned down.
4. Malia’s a volleyball star
Malia has, however, some sporting prowess of her very own. The eldest Obama daughter was named volleyball player of the year in her home state of Washington in 2015 and also placed 38th in the rankings of America’s best young players.
3. Malia’s first State Dinner dress cost nearly $18,000
In 2016 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Malia’s strength and grace at her very first White House state dinner. And the teenager was certainly dressed for the occasion, too. Her Naeem Khan gown, complete with gold beading and strapless sweetheart neckline, cost a whopping $17,990.
2. Malia is a fashion trendsetter
Malia was at the center of a minor White House investigation in 2015 when one of her selfies was somehow leaked online. And the T-shirt she was wearing in the photo – a simple white number featuring the logo of New York rap outfit Pro Era – subsequently became a must-have item.
1. They’ve both done philanthropic work
Malia and Sasha certainly can’t be accused of being lazy teens. In 2016 the pair traveled to Spain, the U.K., Morocco and Liberia in order to promote Let Girls Learn, a government initiative designed to help young women across the world receive an education.