TIME College

12 Inspiring Graduation Speeches by Amazing Women

Inspirational moments from Sheryl Sandberg, J.K. Rowling, Oprah, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres and more.

Let’s face it, ten years out, many of us can’t remember who spoke at our graduation ceremonies, never mind repeat what they said. But every year there’s a small batch of gems–speeches by a celebrity or CEO that fuse together equal parts wit, wisdom, nostalgia and meaning. Many of these are by women. In fact, the commencement address has become a particularly powerful platform for accomplished women. In the coming weeks, big names like Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes and General Motors CEO Mary Barra will ascend podiums around the country. In the meantime, here are some of our favorite graduation moments from the last few years.

Julie Andrews at University of Colorado Boulder (2013): “Use your knowledge and your heart to stand up for those who can’t stand. Speak for those who can’t speak. Be a beacon of light, for those whose lives have become dark. Fight the good fight against global warming. Be a part of all that is good and decent. Be an ambassador for the kind of world you want to live in”

Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane University (2009): “Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path and by all means you should follow that. Don’t give advice, it will come back and bite you in the ass. Don’t take anyone’s advice. So my advice to you is to be true to yourself and everything will be fine.”

Toni Morrison at Rutgers University (2011): “But I tell you, no generation, least of all mine, has a complete grip on the imagination and goals of subsequent generations; not if you refuse to let it be so. You don’t have to accept media or even scholarly labels for yourself: Generation A, B, C, X, Y, [majority], minority, red state, blue state; this social past or that one. Every true heroine breaks free from his or her class—upper, middle, and lower—in order to serve a wider world.”

Barbara Kingsolver at Duke University (2008): “If somebody says ‘your money or your life,’ you could say, ‘life,’ and mean it. You’ll see things collapse in your time, the big houses, the empires of glass. The new green things that sprout up through the wreck — those will be yours.”

Michelle Obama at Eastern Kentucky University (2013): “If you’re a Democrat, spend some time talking to a Republican. And if you’re a Republican, have a chat with a Democrat. Maybe you’ll find some common ground, maybe you won’t. But if you honestly engage with an open mind and an open heart, I guarantee you’ll learn something. And goodness knows we need more of that, because we know what happens when we only talk to people who think like we do — we just get more stuck in our ways, more divided, and it gets harder to come together for a common purpose. “

Amy Poehler at Harvard Class Day (2011): “As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

J.K. Rowling at Harvard (2008): “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Sheryl Sandberg at Barnard College (2011): “We will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap. But if all young women start to lean in, we can close the ambition gap right here, right now, if every single one of you leans in. Leadership belongs to those who take it. Leadership starts with you.”

Maria Shriver at USC Annenberg School of Communication (2012): “I hope if you learn anything from me today, you learn and remember — the power of the pause. Pausing allows you to take a beat — to take a breath in your life. As everybody else is rushing around like a lunatic out there, I dare you to do the opposite.”

Meryl Streep at Barnard (2010): “This is your time and it feels normal to you but really there is no normal. There’s only change, and resistance to it and then more change.”

Kerry Washington at George Washington University (2013): ““When you leave here today and commence the next stage of your life, you can follow someone else’s script, try to make choices that will make other people happy, avoid discomfort, do what is expected, and copy the status quo. Or you can look at all that you have accomplished today and use it as fuel to venture forth and write your own story. If you do, amazing things will take shape.”

Oprah Winfrey at Spelman University (2012): “You must have some vision for your life. Even if you don’t know the plan, you have to have a direction in which you choose to go,”



Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama Deliver a Special Passive-Aggressive Mother’s Day Address On SNL

The bitterness is directed not toward their moms, but toward each other

To kick off Saturday night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, Michelle Obama (played by Sasheer Zamata) and Hillary Clinton (played by Vanessa Bayer) came together to deliver a Mother’s Day message.

“You know, both of us have been called so many things,” Clinton says. “It’s nice to have one day where the first thing that we’re called is mom.”

The women seem to be in good spirits, but soon their address devolves into a sort of tense proxy war of quietly calculated insults.

“What Barack and I are really proud of are giving the gift of health care to 8 million Americans,” Obama says. “You know, which is funny, because I tried to give them that gift 16 years ago, so it’s more like a regift,” Clinton responds, prompting Obama to shoot back, “But we actually delivered it.”

They continue their address by acknowledging the challenges of being a working mother. Clinton, however, thinks she knows just a bit more about this, since she spent years crisscrossing the globe dealing with humanitarian crises. “You know, but I suppose it’s also tough to make a chubby kid eat an apple.”

TIME Parenting

The Best (and Worst) Advice From Famous Moms

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve rounded up some of the of the most thoughtful — and sometimes not so thoughtful — advice from moms who don’t hesitate to make their feelings known.


Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets - Game Six
Elsa—Getty Images

The singer, who became a mother almost two and a half years ago, shared advice in Out Magazine on how to be powerful as a woman by embracing many identities at once.

“There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist—whatever you want to be—and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”

Kristin Cavallari

Kristin Cavallari Visits "FOX & Friends"
Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of Jenny McCarthy, former reality TV star Kristin Cavallari admitted to not vaccinating her son during an interview on Fox & Friends during which she urged mothers to think of vaccination as a personal choice

Listen, to each their own. I understand both sides of it. I’ve ready too many books about autism and there’s some scary statistics out there. It’s our personal choice, and, you know, if you’re really concerned about your kid get them vaccinated.”

Hillary Clinton

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in A No Ceilings Conversation at Lower Eastside Girls Club  in New York
Andrew Kelly—Reuters

The former secretary of state shared some of her wisdom at the opening of the Women of the World Conference in New York in April, talking about the double standard for women and advice for how they can get ahead.

Too many young women are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient to keep moving forward despite whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others, believe me this hard-won advice. But it is a process. You need other women, you need your friends to support you, and you need male friends as well as female ones. You need good role models all of that is true. But at the end of the day, you really have to be good if you have high aspirations. You need to be well-educated, prepared, and willing to take your chances when they come your way. Cut yourself a little bit of slack.”

Angelina Jolie

86th Annual Academy Awards - People Magazine Press Room
Jason LaVeris—WireImage/Getty Images

The Maleficent actress has become an outspoken advocate for all the rights and health of all women, especially in the wake of her preventative double mastectomy last year. She’s also a mom of six who spoke to Entertainment Weekly earlier this year about how motherhood has changed her life.

“It changes you forever. It changes your perspective and it gives you a nice purpose and focus. I am disheartened by many things but I wake up, like I woke up this morning, to kids and we talk and we laugh and we play and I’m light again, and I’m a kid again, and I’m loving and soft again because they’ve brought that back in my life.”

Michelle Obama

Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, shortly after Justin Bieber was arrested on drunk driving charges and authorities claimed his private jet reeked of marijuana, First Lady Michelle Obama talked about what she would do if she were the singer’s mother during an interview with Univision Radio host Enrique Santos. The mother of two (Sasha, 12, and Malia, 15) reminded listeners that Beiber’s just a kid despite his larger than life role as an entertainer.

“They just want you near, you know – they want that advice from a parent. They want to see you on a daily basis, because the thing is he’s still a kid. He’s still growing up. So, I would pull him close.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

Goldene Kamera 2014 - Red Carpet Arrivals
Luca Teuchmann—WireImage/Getty Images

The queen of healthy living can’t seem to avoid controversy this year, especially after she unwittingly stirred up another round in the mommy wars by commenting on how difficult it is for her as a working actress on a movie set versus a regular mom with a nine to five job. But with a recent statement on her lifestyle site, Goop, she attempted to smooth some ruffled mommy feathers.

“Is it not hard enough to attempt to raise children thoughtfully, while contributing something, or bringing home some (or more) of the bacon? Why do we feel so entitled to opine, often so negatively, on the choices of other women? Perhaps because there is so much pressure to do it all, and do it all well all at the same time (impossible).”

Susan Patton (Princeton Mom)

Today - Season 63
NBC/Getty Images

The viral sensation sparked conversation online after a Valentine’s Day-themed editorial in the Wall Street Journal encouraged women to start looking for a husband instead of focusing on their career.

“You should be spending far more time planning for your husband than for your career—and you should start doing so much sooner than you think. This is especially the case if you are a woman with exceptionally good academic credentials, aiming for corporate stardom.”

Jada Pinkett-Smith

2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals
David Livingston—Getty Images

This actress has never hesitated to talk about how much faith she has in her kids. After people criticized her for allowing her daugther Willow to cut her hair, she spoke out on her Facebook page about the decision-making process.

“The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women,girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain.”

Sheryl Sandberg

The Davos World Economic Forum 2014
Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Facebook COO might be best known for her “Lean In,” career manifesto for young women, but she’s also also shared advice about motherhood during an interview with NPR last March.

“I want everyone to be able to choose, but I want us to be able to choose unencumbered by gender choosing for us. I have a 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Success for me is that if my son chooses to be a stay-at-home parent, he is cheered on for that decision. And if my daughter chooses to work outside the home and is successful, she is cheered on and supported.”

Jessica Simpson

11th Annual John Varvatos Stuart House Benefit - Arrivals
Tommaso Boddi—WireImage/Getty Images

The actress, fashion mogul and mother of two, has been very public about her pregnancies and post-baby weight loss campaign with Weight Watchers. And she continues to showcase her early years of motherhood through social media, regularly posting to Instagram with captions like: “Falling asleep looking at pictures of my kids…now I know what my life is about. I am so grateful.” But her gratefulness doesn’t come without the nerves of a new mom, as she told People during her second pregnancy, “There are little things that you kind of obsess over. I never knew how protective I was until I had my own child. I’m already thinking about intruders coming into the house and what our escape route would be.”

Tina Fey

Celebrities Visit "Late Show With David Letterman" - August 21, 2013
Jeffrey Ufberg—WireImage/Getty Images

To no one’s surprise, comedienne Tina Fey mixed humor into her honesty about motherhood. She told David Letterman that though it was great to be home with her kids more, “you’re just like a human napkin for your kids, like, they just wipe their face on you and stuff.” And she’s learned to take even the difficult moments of motherhood with a grain of salt, considering when her youngest daughter was two, she tried to choke Fey after being upset about bath time being over. “It’s so funny because they’re not strong enough to kill you and they want to kill you so bad!”

Kim Kardashian

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals
Larry Busacca—Getty Images

Keeping up with motherhood is no small feat for the queen of the Kardashian Klan. Her daughter, aptly named North, with rapper Kanye West, gave the reality star a new take on racism, she explained on her blog. “To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle. But recently, I’ve read and personally experienced some incidents that have sickened me and made me take notice. I realize that racism and discrimination are still alive, and just as hateful and deadly as they ever have been,” she wrote. “I feel a responsibility as a mother, a public figure, a human being, to do what I can to make sure that not only my child, but all children, don’t have to grow up in a world where they are judged by the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. I want my daughter growing up in a world where love for one another is the most important thing. So the first step I’m taking is to stop pretending like this isn’t my issue or my problem, because it is, it’s everyone’s… because the California teenager who was harassed and killed by his classmates for being gay, the teenage blogger in Pakistan who was shot on her school bus for speaking out in favor of women’s rights, the boy in Florida who was wrongly accused of committing a crime and ultimately killed because of the color of his skin, they are all someone’s son and someone’s daughter and it is our responsibility to give them a voice and speak out for those who can’t and hopefully in the process, ensure that hate is something our children never have to see.”

TIME White House

Michelle Obama on Nigerian Schoolgirls: ‘Barack and I See Our Own Daughters’

First Lady says U.S. is doing "everything possible" to free kidnapped girls.

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke out against the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls last month in the White House’s weekly address marking Mother’s Day.

Delivering the address for the first time without President Barack Obama, the first lady said she and her husband are “outraged and heartbroken” by the kidnappings. “In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters,” she said. “We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”

“I want you to know that Barack has directed our government to do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to find these girls and bring them home,” she said, as a team of military and intelligence advisors deployed by the administration to assist the Nigerian government began arriving in Abuja.

“This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education—grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls,” she said.

Obama tied the kidnappings to a broader struggle to give girls access to the education they deserve, highlighting the plight of 65 million girls who are not attending school across the globe.

“We know that girls who are educated make higher wages, lead healthier lives and have healthier families,” the first lady said. “And when more girls attend secondary school, that boosts their country’s entire economy. So education is truly a girl’s best chance for a bright future, not just for herself, but for her family and her nation.”

“I hope that any young people in America who take school for granted—any young people who are slacking off or thinking of dropping out—I hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education,” she added.

TIME Nigeria

Celebrities Call for Action With #BringBackOurGirls

Almost a month after more than 250 schoolgirls were abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, a trending hashtag shows the world's outrage

(MORE: #BringBackOurGirls: Hashtag Activism Is Cheap–And That’s a Good Thing)

TIME Healthcare

Obama Hosts Obamacare Enrollment Party

Champagne, but no selfies, for those who helped 8 million Americans enroll in the Affordable Care Act

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama feted about 300 people at the White House on Thursday to celebrate the close of the Affordable Care Act’s maiden enrollment period.

Despite a rocky rollout, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that 8,019,763 people selected health-insurance plans through the marketplaces created under the law through the middle of April, exceeding projections.

The Obamas cracked open the champagne for allies and advocates who helped defend the law against Republican attacks and led a nationwide campaign to get Americans enrolled in the marketplace plans.

Among the attendees were labor leaders, Democratic operatives and health care activists, as well as celebrities who helped the Administration promote the law, including University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, former NFL player Eddie George, Friday Night Lights and Nashville star Connie Britton, University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, and actor and former White House official Kal Penn.

According to attendees, the President highlighted the success of the initial enrollment period, but said more work needed to be done — both when enrollment reopens later this year and in states that have not accepted federal dollars to expand Medicaid. Obama gave a special shout-out to the “tech team,” which fixed the troubled HealthCare.gov website that threatened to derail the enrollment process. He was followed by the First Lady, who expressed how proud she was of her husband for pushing the health care law through even when it was politically inexpedient.

Attendees said Obama got “pretty emotional” as his wife retold stories of those who have been helped by the law.

After the Obamas spoke, they worked the room greeting attendees, but as the President warned the crowd: “We don’t have time for selfies with everyone.”

Here’s a readout of the event from a White House official:

The White House Office of Public Engagement hosted an event this afternoon with stakeholders and Administration officials who helped with the outreach and enrollment around the Affordable Care Act to thank them for their efforts.

The President and First Lady attended, along with Senior White House Officials, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Secretary Tom Perez. Guests included the broad and diverse group of stakeholders who helped to enroll Americans in quality affordable health plans, and get information out about their health care options, including consumer groups, techies, pharmacies, hospitals, athletes, celebrities, local elected officials and community leaders.

The President thanked attendees for the tremendous work they did to help 8 million people sign up for private health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act Market Places. He emphasized that this represents a major step forward for this country and that the real impact is playing out in the lives of men, women, and children all across this country who now have access to health care – many for the first time.

The President also reminded the attendees that, thanks to their tireless efforts, in last six weeks leading up to the March 31st deadline, 300 radio interviews blanketed the airwaves in key markets. Over five-thousand events were held in key communities across the country. About 350 million followers were reached through social media channels, and there were over 33 million views of videos encouraging enrollment between content produced the White House videos, YouTube personalities, Funny or Die, and College Humor.

In addition to the 8 million who enrolled in private plans, over 4.8 million more people have been covered by states through Medicaid and CHIP programs and around 3 million more Americans under 26 are covered under their parents’ plans. And because of the ACA, 100 million Americans have gained free preventive care, like mammograms and contraceptive care, under their existing plans. Nearly 8 million seniors have saved almost $10 billion on their medicine. And a whole lot of families will have the security of health care, because the Affordable Care Act prevents insurers from placing dollar limits on the coverage they provide.

TIME Economy

Girl Hands Michelle Obama Her Dad’s Resume During Q&A

The first lady was spending time with the children of executive branch employees at the White House's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Michelle Obama was reportedly “taken aback” when a 10-year-old girl handed the first lady her father’s resume Thursday during a question and answer session with children.

“My dad’s been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his resume,” the girl seated in the front row said as she handed Obama a folded piece of paper. Obama hugged the girl and told the others gathered, some of whom may not have heard the exchange, that the matter was “a little private” but the girl was “doing something for her dad.”

Michelle Obama was spending time with the children of executive branch employees on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at the White House, the Associated Press reports.


TIME Television

Parks and Recreation Watch: Go Big and Stay Home

Parks and Recreation
Steve Jennings/NBC

A stellar season finale puts Leslie and company on a new frontier, while reminding us that the best things don't last forever.

Spoilers from last night’s Parks and Recreation follow:

“Moving Up,” the season finale of Parks and Recreation, was not the first episode the show has made that’s felt like a goodbye. Some of the reasons for that lie offscreen: Parks has never had blockbuster ratings, so it’s had to make season finales, and even midseason finales, that could have worked as series finales if it came to that, and it had to build its story arcs toward those endings. And this season, the show wrote off Ann and Chris in an episode that took stock of how the characters came together and where they’d gone.

But there’s also a thematic reason for it: at heart, for all its good cheer, absurd Midwestern humor, friendship, and bureaucratic satire, Parks and Rec is a show about saying goodbye. Since the show got past its early growing pains and established Leslie Knope as a capable, ambitious civil servant, it’s had baked into it the knowledge that, as fiercely as she loves Pawnee and its waffles, she is going places–eventually, other places. She’s lived by the motto “Go big or go home,” but she knows at some level that going big will someday mean leaving home.

That’s part of the emotional power of this show, a bittersweetness built into even its funniest story arcs. It’s about the universal feeling of knowing that the most special times of your life will end, even as you’re in the middle of them–and knowing that, even if it’s sad, it’s also necessary. You’ll graduate school and leave your friends. Your kids will grow up and move away from home. Everything sweet has an expiration date (with the possible exception of products manufactured by Sweetums).

I am making “Moving Up” sound like a bummer. It was not! (The Cones of Dunshire sequence alone made me laugh harder than anything this season to date.) Because it wasn’t, after all, the series finale, “Moving Up” pushed off the big goodbye, for now. “I can have everything I want!” shouted Leslie, as she hit on the inspiration to move a sizable federal government office from Chicago to Pawnee (hey, it’s TV), and in a way, this episode was Parks‘ way of having everything it wanted. It recognized that it couldn’t keep Leslie and the Parks Dept. gang together any longer in the same scenario, playing on the same field and hitting the same beats, but it kept them together in a way that, excitingly, means that the seventh (and probably final) season will be a very different thing.

Between Leslie and Ben’s visit to San Francisco and the audacious time-jump, “Moving Up” echoed the third-season “Harvest Festival” (possibly the high point of the entire series), capturing the Simpsons-like worldbuilding that the show has done in a grand, warm, spectacle. But three seasons later, it was bigger. Did I mention Michelle Obama was in the episode? Michelle Obama was in the episode! (Though, true to the spirit of Leslie’s character, she was even more starstruck by meeting her childhood idol, West region National Park Service honcho Rebecca Veruvian.)

The episode played literally on a grander stage–I would not have pegged Pawnee folks for Decemberists fans, but who knows, maybe they’re more of an Eagleton thing–and was this time jammed with celebrity cameos, but there was the same sense of the broad sweep of the Pawnee community. The celebration had more of a sense, though, of being one last fling: the star-studded Li’l Sebastian anthem also showed how Andy had grown since his flailing Mouse Rat days, the unmasking of Duke Silver[!] was the sort of move reserved for a series’ final days. It felt like goodbye.

And then suddenly–for now–it wasn’t. Moving the story ahead three years may or may not work in the long run, but it was an ingenious decision to avoid the pitfalls of keeping the status quo for another season. It will let Mike Schur and company-to the extent they want to–make Parks and Rec into something of a sequel to itself. By moving Leslie into the National Park Service, the show can play on a more national stage rather than revisit the foibles of Pawnee and its demanding citizenry. (Now the entire Midwest can complain to Leslie!)

It will hopefully give characters like Tom the room to show growth instead of repeating themselves. It lets us skip over pregnancy storylines and the babies’ infancy (take it from a parent: nothing more boring). It allows the chance to expand the show’s world even further, a prospect hinted at by the brief appearance of Jon Hamm as the most incompetent underling–“And that includes Terry!”–whose three-year tenure we just missed. And it offers the intriguing chance to move problem-solver Leslie from being a counterpoint to our contentious political present to being a player in an alternative near-future. (It will also, presumably, have to gloss over the question of whether Leslie’s icon Hillary Clinton is now President come 2017. And barring flashbacks, I guess we’ve seen our last present-day Washington cameo. Sorry, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell!)

The decision could be invigorating; it could be the equivalent of late-season sitcom fiascoes like having Roseanne win the lottery. But either way, the series finale that wasn’t, in a way, actually was. The Parks and Recreation that we watched for six seasons has finished its run. “Moving Up” was a delightful capper to the sixth season. It also started to prepare us for the episode when Leslie and Ben and Pawnee and all of us will be moving on.

TIME Family

Michelle Obama: I Love ‘Splurging’

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama speaks alongside President Barack Obama and the Easter Bunny during the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 2014 SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

The First Lady said that pigging out on favorite foods was fine from time to time, just so long as kids maintain a balanced diet and do plenty of regular exercise

Michelle Obama said Monday that “splurging is the key to life,” as long as it’s a small part of a healthy lifestyle.

“How would you appreciate vegetables if you never had chocolate?” the First Lady said during the White House Easter Egg Roll. “You couldn’t live without a little chocolate, a little French fries.”

The First Lady took questions from kid reporters during a question-and-answer session at the annual White House Easter event, and emphasized that occasionally splurging was O.K. as part of a balanced diet, alongside regular exercise, the Associated Press reports. “I still splurge when I can, but that’s why I try to exercise almost every day,” she told the young journalists, ages 6 to 13 years old.

Obama also said that her favorite sport is tennis, and she plays with her daughter Malia about once a week. She added that Malia also likes track and Sasha likes basketball and dance.


TIME White House

All The President’s Celebrities: How The White House Used Stars To Sell Obamacare

The Obama administration turned to a powerful source to help persuade 7 million uninsured Americans to enroll in health care plans under the Affordable Care Act — a veritable army of celebrities

In the summer of 2013, when the White House was gearing up to sell the Affordable Care Act, senior aide Valerie Jarrett convened a meeting of some of the nation’s biggest celebrities to secure their advice and help sell the law to the American public.

The meeting brought together singer and actress Jennifer Hudson, actor and on-off White House staffer Kal Penn and comedienne Amy Poehler, as well as Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and YouTube Comedy’s Daniel Kellison, and representatives for Oprah Winfrey, Alicia Keys, and Bon Jovi. Nine months and hundreds of videos, tweets and media appearances later, the White House believes the meeting paid dividends, with the celebrities helping the administration enroll more than 7.04 million people in Obamacare through Monday night, the end of the open enrollment period in the healthcare exchanges.

The celebrity effort was just one component of a broader campaign modeled after Obama’s efforts to win the White House, including rally-style speeches from the president, field efforts on the ground, and targeted messaging to specific communities with high rates of the uninsured. All told, more than 5,000 events were held in support of the enrollment push in the past six weeks, according to the White House, include 45 featuring administration officials. The strategy was coordinated by Senior Communications Advisor Tara McGuinness, with the field campaign bolstered by the addition in October of veteran Obama campaign staffer Marlon Marshall.

Funny Or Die produced more than a half-dozen videos raising awareness about the law, including Obama’s appearance on “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis, while LeBron James appeared in a YouTube PSA.

Administration officials point to both appearances as sparking major jumps in traffic to the Healthcare.gov websites. James’ appearance in particular, made it easier to line up other celebrities for the healthcare campaign, further helping line up surrogates.

First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Joe Biden plugged the law on on the inaugural episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers. Former NBA stars Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning appeared in ads produced by the Department of Health and Human Services that aired during March Madness, while

Celebrities, from Ellen DeGeneres to Scrubs star Zach Braff flooded Twitter over the past several days with pleas to #GetCovered, which the White House claims reached about 350 million Twitter followers, and retweeted more than 40,400 times. (Those numbers do not count unique people, since many on Twitter follow multiple celebrities.)

The celebrities appearing in videos in support of the law include YouTube stars Hannah Hart, Tyler Oakley, the Fine Brothers, Nice Peter, ERB, Barely Political, VSauce. The mothers of Jonah Hill, Adam Levine, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Lopez, appeared jointly in a video, while others included Nina Dobrev, Nikki Reed, Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Eva Longoria, Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Scott, Elizabeth Banks and Eddie George.

The administration’s final push in support of the law also heavily invested in radio, with the White House saying more than 300 interviews have been given by the President, top administration officials, and surrogates. Since February, the list engaging on radio has included Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill, Kerry Washington, Jonelle Monae, Nia Long, Jurnee Smollett, Star Jones, Tatyana Ali, Nikki Reed, Aisha Tyler, and Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was a massive effort. To get a sense of the scale, consider this list of celebrity tweets that went out Monday, March 31, the last day of open enrollment, when about 70 celebrities reached out with Twitter accounts connected to more than 90 million other accounts:

Ellen DeGeneres, 28.2 million followers

Ellen DeGeneres@TheEllenShow 29s

Today’s the last day to #GetCovered. Everyone in my house is covered. We even have a covered garage. https://www.healthcare.gov/

Nina Dobrev, 4.54 million Twitter followers / 3.6 million Facebook Likes

Nina Dobrev@ninadobrev 4m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered Don’t be an April Fool tomorrow and go to http://healthcare.gov NOW! http://youtu.be/pARcZeRoH8w

Zooey Deschanel, 5.43 million followers

zooey deschanel@ZooeyDeschanel 1m

TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

John Legend, 5.24 million followers

John Legend@johnlegend 28s

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Sarah Silverman, 5.16 million followers

Sarah Silverman@SarahKSilverman 1m

TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered y’all. Go to http://Healthcare.gov now

Rainn Wilson, 3.82 million followers

RainnWilson@rainnwilson 1m

HEY UNINSURED PEOPLE: Today’s your last chance to get health insurance in 2014. http://ofa.bo/cQe #GetCoveredNow http://healthcare.gov

Pharrell Williams, 3.17 million followers

Pharrell Williams@Pharrell 14m

Stay healthy, guys. Today is the last day to #getcovered at http://www.healthcare.gov

Russell Simmons, 3.1 million followers

Russell Simmons@UncleRUSH 42m

Today is the last day to #GetCovered at http://Healthcare.gov!! If you do not healthcare, go to the site NOWWWWWW!!!!!!!

Questlove, 2.95 million followers

Questlove Jenkins@questlove 19m

procrastinators: you’ve put it off forever. can you really afford to NOT #GetCoveredNow? today is last day for 2014 http://bit.ly/1ggsJVP

Alyssa Milano, 2.67 million followers

Alyssa Milano@Alyssa_Milano 1m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered . Go to http://Healthcare.gov NOW!

Wil Wheaton, 2.55 million followers

Wil Wheaton@wilw 17m

#GeeksGetCovered! RT @Alyssa_Milano: TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered . Go to http://Healthcare.gov NOW!

Conan O’Brien, 2.4 million Facebook Likes

Tyler Oakley, 2.14 million followers

Tyler Oakley@tyleroakley 57s

My BFF @BarackObama keeps nagging me to tell y’all that today is the last day to #GetCoveredhttp://Healthcare.gov – go now, sign up.

Jared Leto, 1.7 million followers

JARED LETO@JaredLeto 4m

TODAY is the LAST DAY to #GetCovered. Visit http://healthcare.gov + apply now.

kerry washington@kerrywashington 43s

Today is the last day to #GETCOVERED! RT + Sign up now. http://1.usa.gov/HaCX0w

Elizabeth Banks, 1.45 million followers

Elizabeth Banks@ElizabethBanks 55s

TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Shaun White (Facebook Post), 2.6 million Facebook Followers

Chatting w our President and heard it was the last day to #GetCoveredhttp://bitly.com/SWGetCovered

Zach Braff, 1.39 million followers

Zach Braff@zachbraff 15m

There is nothing sexier than someone with health insurance. #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Zach Braff@zachbraff 2h

If you randomly get hurt or sick, you shouldn’t lose every dollar you and your family has.

#GetCovered! Go to



Zach Braff@zachbraff 5h

TODAY is the Last Day to

#GetCovered! Go to



Olivia Wilde, 1.33 million followers

olivia wilde@oliviawilde 1m

Don’t stall. This is the LAST day to #GetCovered. Go to http://healthcare.gov and protect your future-self. (Or pay fines later = not fun.)

Sophia Bush, 924K followers

Sophia Bush@SophiaBush 1m

Last day to

#GetCovered! Don’t be a Fool tomorrow. Go to



Nikki Reed, 719K followers

Nikki Reed@NikkiReed_I_Am 21s

TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://www.whosay.com/l/rDU867d now!!!!!!

Rashida Jones, 669K followers

Rashida Jones@iamrashidajones 59s

Come on everybody! Today is the Last Day to #GetCovered. Go http://toHealthcare.gov now and make this happen.

Olivia Munn, 592K followers

oliviamunn@oliviamunn 3m

Today is the Last Day to #GetCovered. Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Shonda Rhimes, 589K followers

shonda rhimes@shondarhimes 30m

People! Get some health care. It’s the last day! https://www.healthcare.gov #Obamacare #freebirthcontrol

David Boreanaz, 565K followers

David Boreanaz@David_Boreanaz 4m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered Go to http://Heathcare.gov NOW. #DoIt

Janelle Monae, 517K followers

Janelle Monae@JanelleMonae 15m

TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Kate Walsh, 500K followers

Kate Walsh@katewalsh 1h

Remember that today is the LAST day to #GetCovered! Visit http://Healthcare.gov now. http://1.usa.gov/1i8ttPy

Team Coco, 465K Twitter Followers

Team Coco@TeamCoco

Last day to #GetCoveredNow. Don’t wait for a zombie apocalypse to take your health seriously: http://healthcare.gov pic.twitter.com/emjvX2A9gq

Nia Long, 423K followers

Nia Long@NiaLong 2h

http://Healthcare.gov is the place to go!!!! #GetCovered @BarackObama makes it easy for everyone to have healthcare.

Mia Farrow, 421K followers

mia farrow@MiaFarrow 58s

Bo-1st-Dog says #GetCovered MT @WhiteHouse: I signed the #ACA so millions could know the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. -bo

Melissa Joan Hart, 405K followers

Retweeted by Melissa Joan Hart

HealthCare.gov@HealthCareGov 3h

http://HealthCare.gov serving consumers. 1.7M+ visits and 364k calls Sunday. Deadline is today for coverage this year. #GetCoveredNow

Melissa Joan Hart@MelissaJoanHart 51m

Yes but don’t want people penalized. RT @swin24: . just RT’d @HealthCareGov. Isn’t she a Republican?

Emily VanCamp, 378K followers

Emily VanCamp@EmilyVanCamp 2m

Today is the last day to #GetCovered ! http://healthcare.gov

Lance Bass, 370K followers

Lance Bass@LanceBass 8m

The deadline is finally here! TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now

Hannah Hart, 353K followers

Hannah Hart@harto 31s

Hey! Independent cool kid who thinks they will live forever! Today is the last day to #GetCovered just in case. http://healthcare.gov

Torrey DeVitto, 328K followers

Torrey DeVitto@TorreyJDeVitto 6m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered. Go to http://healthcare.gov NOW! 🙌💗

Mayim Bialik, 327K followers

Mayim Bialik@missmayim 1m

TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now. you deserve it! don’t be left out!

CAA Foundation, 325K followers

CAA Foundation@caafoundation 1m

Time is almost up – #GetCovered today! Visit http://healthcare.gov + apply now! (via @JaredLeto @zachbraff @Alyssa_Milano)

Aisha Tyler, 313K followers

Aisha Tyler@aishatyler 2m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered! If you don’t have health coverage visit http://Healthcare.gov now. You don’t need it, until you do.

Tatyana Ali, 281K followers

Tatyana Ali@TatyanaAli 2m

It’s March 31st!!! Happy Monday! TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Dule Hill, 239K followers

Dulé Hill@DuleHill 2m

Twittersphere! The deadline to #GetCovered is today! Go to http://Healthcare.gov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pARcZeRoH8w&feature=youtu.be … @NikkiReed_I_Am @ninadobrev @glove

Goku, 215K followers


Today is the Last Day to #GetCovered. Go to http://Healthcare.gov . Then have yourself a Dragon Ball Z marathon.

Brian Baumgartner, 210K followers

Brian Baumgartner@BBBaumgartner 2h

A guy I know once said: if u don’t have Health Insurance… You know… You probably kinda should. Today is the last day to #GetCovered.

Kal Penn, 208K followers

Kal Penn@kalpenn 33s

If you like your gonorrhea, you can keep your gonorrhea! Or get health insurance. Or live with gonorrhea. #GetCovered http://healthcare.gov

Star Jones, 184K followers

Star Jones@StarJonesEsq 5m

Don’t want to be an #AprilFool tomorrow? Remember, TODAY is Last Day to #GetCovered. Go to http://Healthcare.gov now. #heartHealth matters

Arielle Kebbel, 166K followers

Arielle Kebbel@ArielleKebbel 1h

Did you know: TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered. Go to http://healthcare.gov NOW! Ps- PLS!!!!!! ;)

Billy Eichner, 159K followers

billy eichner@billyeichner 1m

As a respected diplomat, I want to remind u that today is the last day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov. pic.twitter.com/qw0tsMRn9L

Scott Foley, 134K followers

scott foley@scottkfoley 11m

Tweeps! TODAY is the LAST DAY to #GetCovered. Go to http://healthcare.gov NOW!

Darby Stanchfield, 123K followers

Darby Stanchfield@darbysofficial 1m

Tweeps! Today is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov to sign up. #FreeBirthControl

John Cho, 113K followers

John Cho@JohnTheCho 1m

TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered. Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Jerome Bettis, 102K followers

Jerome Bettis@JeromeBettis36 10m

Today is the last day to help yourself with health care!! Go to http://Healthcare.gov to sign -up

Jurnee Smollett, 98K followers

jurnee smollett@jurneesmollett 1m

Listen tweeps, over 6mil people have signed up for healthcare. TODAY is the Last Day to #GetCovered! Go to http://Healthcare.gov now.

Amaury Nolasco, 96K followers

Amaury Nolasco@amaury_nolasco 20m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered Don’t be an April Fool tomorrow and go to http://healthcare.gov NOW!

Michael Rosenbaum, 91K followers

Michael Rosenbaum@mrosenbaum711 15m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered. Go to http://healthcare.gov NOW!

Angela Bassett, 73K followers

Angela Bassett@ImAngelaBassett 1m

I did it. @CourtneyBVance did it. Did you? Click here. NOW. https://www.healthcare.gov/ #GetCovered

Craig Newmark (Founder of Craigslist), 70K followers

craignewmark@craignewmark 55s

Spread the word! Today’s the last day to sign up for health coverage. #GetCoveredNow http://hc.gov/RUXFYn , pic.twitter.com/CoecJAeRVf

Eric Balfour, 58K followers


TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered. Go to http://healthcare.gov NOW!

Brandon Routh, 50.4K followers

Brandon Routh@BrandonJRouth 2m

Last day to #GetCovered! Don’t be a Fool tomorrow. Go to http://Healthcare.gov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pARcZeRoH8w&feature=youtu.be @NikkiReed_I_Am @ninadobrev @glove

Josh Hopkins, 40K followers

Josh Hopkins@MrJoshHopkins Jan 11

Nothing is more important than our health. Make it your family’s top priority and #GetCovered today.

John Lyman, 32K followers

Joshua Lyman@joshualyman 2h

Are you all signed up or in line for Santoscare? #ACA

Adrianne Palicki@AdriannePalicki 5m

#GetCovered Don’t be a fool tomorrow! Go to http://healthcare.gov now!!!

Leo McGarry, 21K followers

Leo Thomas McGarry@LeoMcGarry 2m

Life is random. Your health care doesn’t have to be. #GetCovered. #YesYou

Donna Moss, 18.2K followers

Donna Moss@donnatella_moss 4h

Last day of open enrolment for Santoscare today. Young invincibles, don’t make me call your mothers. #GetCovered #ACA

Sam Seaborn, 16.8K followers

Sam Seaborn@SamSeaborn 5h

Still not covered? Go to http://healthcare.gov now. Today is the deadline to #GetCovered for this year.

Jayson Blair, 13K followers

Jayson Blair@Jayson_Blair 29m

TODAY is the last day to #GetCovered Don’t be an April Fool tomorrow y’all. Go to http://healthcare.gov NOW!

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