Gayle King to interview Michelle Obama at Essence Festival in New Orleans


US First Lady Michelle Obama speaks about the Administration’s efforts to end veteran homelessness and the importance of mayoral leadership in the process at the 84th annual Winter Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2016. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Michelle Obama will be making her Essence Festival debut in an interview with Gayle King, co-host of “CBS This Morning.” The former first lady will appear Saturday night to mark the festival’s 25th anniversary. The interview will be streamed live on CBSN starting at 10:40 p.m. ET. 

Essence Communications CEO Michelle Ebanks described Obama as the “Forever First Lady” in a May article on

“As inspiring and aspirational as it is relatable, Mrs. Obama’s story — told on her own terms — is a remarkable example and celebration of everyday black women who accomplish extraordinary things, who confront challenges with courage and truth, and who remind us that all things are possible when we support one another,” Ebanks said.

Obama’s experiences were chronicled in her best-selling memoir, “Becoming.” She spoke with King on “CBS This Morning” in November 2018 about the events that shaped her — including how sharing her story has helped her overcome self-doubt. Obama described her experience on the campaign trail with her husband as being “probably one of the hardest [chapters] for me to write.”

“Because it goes over a painful time in the campaign when I thought I was doing great telling my story, sharing it honestly. But my whole persona was distorted,” she told King. Regardless of criticisms, Obama said being honest about her life has provided her with a sense of worth and belonging. “I am good enough to be the first lady. I do love my country,” Obama said.

For Essence Festival Main Stage host Loni Love, the moment is especially poignant. “This is a full circle moment for me,” the comedian told CBS News. “Both Michelle Obama and Gayle King have been an inspiration to me and many others.” Love has been an outspoken champion of black female voices and has even lent her own voice to the pages of Essence.

“I am excited, honored and humbled to host this keynote event at this year’s Essence Festival,” Love said, joking that she “may try to get them both to take a tequila shot after the conversation!” Love joins a list of lauded comedians to host main stage festivities, including Kevin Hart and Nephew Tommy.

Organized by the magazine of the same name, Essence Festival spans three days and includes musical performances by Sheila E, Missy Elliott, and Big Freedia, along with panels featuring prominent CEOs and politicians. Those events include a 2020 Democratic panel spotlighting Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren.

Gayle King is co-host of “CBS This Morning,” which airs Monday to Friday at 7 a.m. ET.  

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