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malia obama sundance film festival 2024© Getty Images

Malia Obama's stunning transformation – her evolution in photos

Barack and Michelle Obama's daughter has changed so much over the years

Jenni McKnight
US Lifestyle Editor
June 13, 2024
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Malia Obama has come a long way since growing up in the White House and has managed to step out of her parents' shadows and carve a career for herself as a screenwriter. 

The 25-year-old daughter of Barack and Michelle Obama was only 10 when her dad was elected as the 44th President of the United States and she was plunged into the spotlight as one of the most famous daughters in the world, alongside her sister Sasha, 23. 

WATCH: Malia and Sasha Obama's style evolution

But in the years since leaving Washington, D.C. Malia has matured into a beautiful young woman who lives independently from her parents. 

She has undergone a style evolution too. She's gone from a shy, little girl wearing dresses and bows and clinging onto her father's hand to an adult, who now rocks waist-length hair, washboard abs, and is comfortable in her own eclectic and casual style. 

Barack Obama takes the stage, with his daughters Sasha and Malia and wife Michelle at his side to celebrate his presidential win, at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. © Getty
Malia was only 10 when Barack became President

But that's not all as over the years, Malia has taken strides to develop her own identity – including dropping her famous surname.

Name change 

Barack Obama flanked by daughters Malia and Sasha in a throwback© Instagram
Malia and Sasha spent their childhood's living at the White House

Despite having one of the most recognizable surnames, Malia appears to want to distance herself from it as she forges her career. 

When she debuted her short film, The Heart – about the relationship between a mother and her son – at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on January 18, the Harvard graduate dropped 'Obama' from her last name in favor of a different stage moniker. 

U.S. President Barack Obama, daughter Malia Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha Obama sit for portrait in the Green Room of the White House© Getty Images
Malia's style has changed over the years too

During the Sundance Institute's Meet the Artist spotlight video, and in the credits of the film, it was revealed that Malia is using her middle name as she was referred to as 'Malia Ann'. 

Sundance Film Festival 

The Obamas stood together with their dogs© Handout
Malia looks just like her parents

The Heart was Malia's first film to appear at Sundance after it was chosen to premiere in the acclaimed festival, which sees over 14,000 filmmakers submit their work but only around 100 are selected. 

Speaking about the project, Malia described it as "an odd little story, somewhat a fable, about a man grieving the death of his mother after she leaves him an unusual request". 

Barack Obama delivers remarks with his daughters Sasha and Malia during the annual turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House  November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC© Getty
Malia is a big supporter of her dad

She continued: "The film is about lost objects and lonely people and forgiveness and regret, but I also think it works hard to uncover where tenderness and closeness can exist in those things." 

Malia added: "We hope it makes you feel a bit less lonely or at least reminds you not to forget about the people who are. The folks who came together to make this film have my heart, pun intended!" 


Michelle Obama with her late mom Marion and daughters Malia and Sasha© Instagram
Malia and Sasha have grown into beautiful women

Malia is proving herself in the entertainment industry after interning on HBO's Girls and at Harvey Weinstein's production company. 

She also worked as a staff writer on Donald Glover's Amazon Prime series Swarm, and he had nothing but good things to say about her work ethic. 

barack obama malia obama sasha obama in the oval office© Instagram
Malia has a laid-back style

"Her writing style is great," he told Vanity Fair in 2022: "She's just like, an amazingly talented person. She's really focused, and she's working really hard." 

He added: "I feel like she’s just somebody who's gonna have really good things coming soon." 

The President Barack Obama and (L-R) daughters Malia and Sasha, mother-in-law Marian Robinson and first lady Michelle Obama look on during the national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse south of the White House December 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. The lighting of the tree is an annual tradition attended by the president and the first family.© Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo
Malia is forging her own career

Donald wasn't the only one who saw her talent either. His brother, Steven Glover, who often collaborates with his sibling, had plenty of praise for Malia too. 

"Donald always says perspective is important," he revealed during the same interview. "And people with different perspectives are important for a writer's room. 

malia obama walking in la 2022© London Entertainment/Shutterstock
Malia is now living in Los Angeles

"And for sure, she definitely has a unique perspective on everything. So, we wanted to hear her stories and have her work with us. Listening to her stories and having her involved really gave us a lot of good ideas." 

Steven also joked that "we can't be easy on her just because she's the [former] president's daughter." 

Sibling bond 

malia and sasha obama in bali 2017© Getty Images
Malia and Sasha live in LA together

Malia and Sasha have an incredibly close and live together in LA after Sasha moved from Michigan to California. The young women both relocated and now live in Brentwood near the USC campus where Sasha was a student until recently. 

In order to pursue a profession as a screenwriter, Malia moved to CA in 2021 after receiving her degree from Harvard and her younger sibling couldn't wait to join her. 


Malia Obama sitting in an outside area© Getty Images
Malia has never confirmed a romantic relationship

Malia has never commented on her romantic relationships, but her mother previously admitted that she brought men home to meet her and her husband. 

Joking about her daughters' love lives to Ellen DeGeneres in 2014, Michelle said: "Now, they're bringing grown men home. Before it was just a pop band, now they have boyfriends and real lives and all that stuff. They have grown up right before our very eyes, and they're doing well." 

malia obama and rory farquharson in 2017© Alo Ceballos
Malia was linked to Rory Farquharson in 2017

In 2017, Malia was linked to British law student, Rory Farquharson after they were seen kissing at one of Harvard's football games. 

In 2022, she was reported to be dating Ethiopian producer Dawit Eklund, and in late 2023, she was pictured enjoying a sushi date in Los Angeles with rapper Aminé, although she has never confirmed any relationships. 

Parents' approval 

Malia Obama at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah© Dia Dipasupil
Malia at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah

Barack and Michelle are full of praise when it comes to their daughters, with the former First Lady branding them "amazing young women". 

Michelle is proud of what her daughters are becoming and previously said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show: "I listened to what my mother said when she was raising us. 

"She said, 'I'm not raising babies, I'm raising real people to be out in the world.' And I kept that in mind with the girls." 

malia obama hiking© CPR/D.Sanchez / BACKGRID
Malia has found her own style and career

She concluded: "I mean, they wouldn't always be in that bubble of the White House, so they had to learn to make their beds. They had to learn how to drive. 

"They had to learn how to be compassionate, independent, responsible people so that they entered the world as responsible, compassionate, capable people. And I think they are amazing young women because of that."

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