‘The View’ Defends Malia Obama Dropping Surname for Film: ‘If I Can Be Whoopi Goldberg, She Can Be Whoever’

“Why do you care what she calls herself?” Whoopi says

Whoopi Goldberg on The View
"The View" host Whoopi Goldberg isn't impressed by Nikki Haley's latest comments on Joe Biden (Credit: ABC)

Malia Obama made her directorial debut at the Sundance Film Festival this year, but she notably did not use her last name in her film credit. And though other people might be bothered by that, the hosts of “The View” are definitely not among them.

The eldest Obama child directed a short called “The Heart,” but instead of crediting herself as Malia Obama, she opted to use just her middle name, going by Malia Ann. Setting up the discussion during Wednesday’s Hot Topics, moderator Whoopi Goldberg was baffled by those who are outraged over that choice.

“She knows she’s an Obama, why do you care?” Whoopi said. “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!”

For those unfamiliar, Goldberg’s real name is in fact Caryn Elaine Johnson. She crafted her stage name early on, wanting something better suited for Hollywood (but she also went with her signature humor, choosing Whoopi based on a whoopee cushion).

The comedian continued, “I mean, why are people triggered by this kind of stuff? Why are people wasting their time?”

Though Joy Behar agreed that Obama can go by whatever name she wants, the cohost did note that there wouldn’t really be anything wrong with using her last name, either.

“It’s not like her last name is Nixon,” Behar joked. “Her last name has great vibes around it. So she might as well use it.”

The table quickly reached a consensus, with cohost Alyssa Farah Griffin adding that the situation is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario for Obama.

“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,” Farah Griffin said.

She also noted that the name change is a bit more palatable because Obama is doing something very outside of politics.

“If she was running for congress in Illinois and was like, ‘I’m running as Malia Ann,’ I’d be like, ‘That’s too cute by a half, you’re obviously an Obama following in Obama’s footsteps,’” Farah Griffin said. “But she’s doing her own thing!”

Cohost Sunny Hostin noted that, for as often as “nepo babies” are the center of pop culture debates lately, she’s surprised that people aren’t more supportive of Obama choosing to try and make a name for herself without using her last name to get her there.

“The View” airs weekdays at 11 a.m. ET on ABC.


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