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Whoopi Goldberg furiously defends Malia Ann after Barack Obama's daughter faces backlash for changing her name

Whoopi Goldberg recently stood up for Malia Obama amid controversy over Malia’s choice to use a stage name for her debut short film at the Sundance Film Festival. 

At 25, Malia opted for “Malia Ann” as her moniker for “The Heart,” seeking perhaps to carve out her own identity separate from her father, Barack Obama’s, legacy. 

This decision stirred a mix of admiration and skepticism among film enthusiasts, with some applauding her independence and others accusing her of evading the “nepo baby” label.

During a segment of her show, Whoopi, born Caryn Elaine Johnson, passionately defended Malia’s right to self-identify in any manner she chooses. 

malia obama sundance film festival 2024© Getty Images
Malia Ann attends the “The Heart” Premiere

She rhetorically asked, “She knows she is an Obama, why do you care? Why do you care what she calls herself?” Whoopi’s stance was clear: individuals should be free to define their own identities without public scrutiny or interference.

The audience echoed Whoopi’s sentiment with applause as she further emphasized her point, drawing from her own experience of adopting a stage name.

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
Barack Obama delivers remarks with his daughters Sasha and Malia

 Whoopi’s co-hosts, Sara Haines and Alyssa Farah Griffin, also voiced their support, highlighting the undue pressure Malia faces in trying to establish a career in the shadow of her family’s fame. 

Sara noted that using a different name allows Malia to assert her individual achievements, while Alyssa pointed out the catch-22 situation Malia finds herself in, being criticized regardless of her choices.

Whoopi Goldberg smiling and raising her arms on The View© Lou Rocco
Whoopi Goldberg defends Malia’s decision to change her name

Whoopi urged the audience to focus on more significant issues rather than obsessing over Malia’s personal decisions, advocating for empathy and understanding towards the young filmmaker’s journey. 

Malia, along with her sister Sasha, has maintained a relatively low profile since their father’s presidency, focusing on their education and budding careers. 

Malia’s venture into the entertainment industry began with internships on notable projects, including Halle Berry’s Extant and Lena Dunham’s Girls, culminating in her role as a staff writer on Donald Glover’s Swarm, where Glover himself praised her talent and work ethic.

Malia Ann Obama attends the "The Heart" Premiere at the Short Film Program 1 during the 2024 Sundance Film Festival© Dia Dipasupil
Malia Ann faced backlash for changing her name

Malia’s film The Heart, which explores themes of loneliness, forgiveness, and connection, reflects her artistic vision and narrative prowess. 

Her decision to use “Malia Ann” has been met with both pride and criticism from the public, igniting discussions on nepotism and merit in the entertainment industry. 

Supporters commend her desire to stand on her own merits, while detractors argue that her familial connections are inescapable.

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