Malia Obama embraces new stage name during Hollywood directing career debut

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Originally appeared on E! Online

Malia Obama is voting for a fresh start.

As her Hollywood career takes off, Barack and Michelle Obama‘s oldest daughter has dropped her last name in favor of her middle name, officially going by Malia Ann for her newest film project “The Heart.”

Fans did a double take after Malia Obama’s pen name was revealed in the Sundance Institute’s “Meet the Artist” spotlight video, which introduced her as filmmaker Malia Ann, seemingly in an effort to distance herself from her powerful parents, who have also launched careers in entertainment with Higher Ground Productions.

Although the former president and first lady are now movie moguls, the two did not attend the 2024 Sundance Film Festival earlier this month, when Malia Obama, 25, made her red carpet debut at the premiere of The Heart.

Malia Obama described her project as “an odd little story, somewhat of fable, abut a man grieving the death of his mother after she leaves him an unusual request in her will,” as she put it in her Sundance spotlight.

Photos: Malia Obama and Sasha Obama Over the Years

While the film—which was produced by Donald Glover‘s company Gilga—was Malia Obama’s first time directing, she already has writing credits under her belt as a staff writer on his Amazon Prime show “Swarm.”

“She’s a very professional person,” Swarm’s co-creator Janine Nabers said of the Harvard grad in a January 2023 Vanity Fair interview. “She’s an incredible writer and artist.”

Glover also echoed the sentiments, singing Malia Obama’s praises and noting her famous parents didn’t play a role in how she was treated on set.

“I feel like she’s just somebody who’s gonna have really good things coming soon,” he told Vanity Fair in March 2022. “Her writing style is great. We can’t be easy on her just because she’s the [former] President’s daughter.”

Of course, Malia Obama is not the first child of a celebrity to take a stage name in Hollywood in order to distance themselves from their families. Nicolas Cage changed his last name from Coppola, while Angelina Jolie dropped her surname, Voight.

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