2024 Sundance Film Festival - Short Film Program 1©GettyImages
New stage name

Whoopi Goldberg defends Malia Obama after she’s criticized online

Malia recently debuted her first short under her stage name.

Whoopi Goldberg is standing up for Malia Obama. The eldest daughter of Barack and Michelle Obama recently came under fire after she premiered her first short. The film, titled “The Heart,” premiered at Sundance Film Festival, with her name listed as Malia Ann. The fact that she dropped her last name quickly became a topic of conversation.

FGI Night Of Stars 39th Annual Gala©GettyImages
Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson

In an episode of “The View,” Goldberg addressed the situation. “She knows she’s an Obama, why do you care?” she asked critics. “Why do you care what she calls herself? If she wanted to call herself Jeanette McDonald, she has the right to! If I can be Whoopi Goldberg, she can be whoever the hell she wants to be!”

Co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin agreed and posed that Malia would have been criticized no matter what name she used. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” she said. “If she went as Malia Obama, they’d be like ‘She’s riding her parents’ coattails.’ And I can’t think of a bigger shadow to feel like you’re living in than the president and first lady of the United States.”

Online critics were upset that Malia was shying away from her parents’ legacy and last name by choosing to avoid it in her work. Many claimed her choice to steer clear of her parents is related to the “nepo baby” arguments, which have followed all manner of celebrities that are related to public figures.

"Swarm" Red Carpet Premiere And Screening In Los Angeles©GettyImages
Dominique Fishback and Malia at the premiere of ‘Swarm’

More about Malia’s career

At 25 years old, Malia’s career is in a great place. She’s been featured in various writing rooms, most recently for the TV series “Swarm,” where she co-wrote an episode. She also premiered “The Heart” in one of the country’s leading film festivals.

The Heart” is an 18 minute short written and directed by Malia, which stars Tunde Adebimpe and Latonya Borsay. “This is an odd little story,” said Malia at Sundance. “Somewhat of a fable, about a man grieving the death of his mother after she leaves him an unusual request in her will. The film is about lost objects and lonely people. And forgiveness and regret.”

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