Higher Ground Productions

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Higher Ground
TypePrivate
IndustryEntertainment
Founded2018 (2018)
Founder
Headquarters
Services

Higher Ground Productions, also known simply as Higher Ground, is an American production company founded in 2018 by former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

History[edit]

In May 2018, the Obamas launched Higher Ground Productions by signing a multi-year deal with Netflix to produce scripted and unscripted film and television projects, with the goal of the company to lift up diverse voices in the entertainment industry.[1] Michelle Obama stated "I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others."[1] In February 2019, Priya Swaminathan, Tonia Davis, and Qadriyyah “Q” Shamsid-Deen joined the company, with Swaminathan and Davis serving as co-heads, and Shamsid-Deen serving as a creative executive.[2]

On June 6, 2019, Spotify announced a partnership with Higher Ground to produce Spotify-exclusive podcasts.[3] The first podcast under the partnership, The Michelle Obama Podcast, premiered on July 29, 2020.[4]

The company's first film was American Factory, released in 2019. Netflix released Becoming a documentary following Michelle Obama on her book tour promoting her memoir of the same name.[5]

Higher Ground has multiple projects in development, including a feature film adaption of Frederick Douglass's biography, a drama series set in the fashion scene of post-WWII New York City, and a scripted anthology series of the New York Times obituary column highlighting deaths of remarkable people not reported.[6]

In June 2022, it was announced that Higher Ground would be ending its partnership with Spotify, as it signed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal with Audible.[7]

Awards[edit]

In 2020, the company won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program for American Factory.[8][9][10]

Productions[edit]

Feature films[edit]

Release date Title Notes
June 18, 2021 Fatherhood
September 3, 2021 Worth
TBA Leave the World Behind
Rustin
Bodkin [11]

Documentaries[edit]

Release date Title Notes
August 21, 2019 American Factory Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature[12]
Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program
March 25, 2020 Crip Camp Nominated for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature[13]
May 6, 2020 Becoming Nominated for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special[14]
October 21, 2022 Descendant [15][16]

Television[edit]

Release date Title Notes
September 28, 2021 Ada Twist, Scientist An educational Netflix original series for kids; centered on science, technology, engineering, and math. Emmy Award for Outstanding Preschool Animated Series.
March 16, 2021 Waffles + Mochi An educational Netflix original series for kids; centered on healthy eating.
July 4, 2021 We the People Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Program
April 13, 2022 Our Great National Parks Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator - Barack Obama (for "A World of Wonder")
May 19, 2022 The G Word with Adam Conover A spiritual successor to Adam Ruins Everything with a focus on the US Federal Government starring Adam Conover

Podcasts[edit]

Release date Title Notes
July 29, 2020 (premiere) The Michelle Obama Podcast Produced in exclusive partnership with Spotify.
February 22, 2021 (premiere) Renegades: Born in the USA Produced in exclusive partnership with Spotify.
January 12, 2022 (season premiere) The Big Hit Show: Twilight Produced in exclusive partnership with Spotify.
February 9, 2022 (season premiere) The Big Hit Show: To Pimp a Butterfly Produced in exclusive partnership with Spotify.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Neuman, Scott (May 22, 2018). "Obamas Sign Deal With Netflix, Form 'Higher Ground Productions'". NPR.org. Archived from the original on September 18, 2018. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  2. ^ Thorne, Will (February 26, 2019). "Barack and Michelle Obama Appoint Co-Heads for Higher Ground Productions". Variety. Archived from the original on May 8, 2020. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  3. ^ Hayes, Dade (June 6, 2019). "Spotify, Barack And Michelle Obama's Higher Ground Strike Exclusive Podcast Deal". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  4. ^ Grady, Constance (July 30, 2020). "The Michelle Obama Podcast's first episode proves it's fun to just hand out with the Obamas". Vox. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  5. ^ Coleman, Nancy (April 27, 2020). "Michelle Obama's Memoir 'Becoming' Will Be a Netflix Documentary". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2020. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  6. ^ Obenson, Tambay (April 30, 2019). "Barack & Michelle Obama's Production Company Reveals Initial Netflix Programming Slate". IndieWire. Archived from the original on May 31, 2020. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  7. ^ Chan, J. Clara (June 21, 2022). "The Obamas' 'Higher Ground' Leaves Spotify for Audible Multiyear Deal". Billboard. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  8. ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (January 13, 2020). "Barack and Michelle Obama's production company scores first Oscar nomination". CNN. Archived from the original on January 20, 2020. Retrieved January 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Carey, Matthew (February 9, 2020). "'American Factory' Reaches Highest Ground With Oscar Documentary Feature Win". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 17, 2020. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  10. ^ "'American Factory' wins Emmy for outstanding directing". WDTN. September 15, 2020. Archived from the original on September 22, 2020. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  11. ^ Keith, Chantel (June 17, 2022). "Netflix Announces Cast and Storyline for Obamas' Drama Series 'Bodkin'". Spring Tribune.
  12. ^ Dove, Steve (February 10, 2020). "AMERICAN FACTORY is the 2020 Oscar Winner for Documentary (Feature)". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  13. ^ Cohn, Gabe (March 15, 2021). "2021 Oscars Nominees List". New York Times. Archived from the original on March 15, 2021. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  14. ^ "Nominees/Winners | Television Academy". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  15. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 29, 2022). "Netflix Acquires Rights To Participant Documentary 'Descendant'; Higher Ground To Present Feature – Sundance". Deadline. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  16. ^ "Is That Emmy-Nominated Star Barack Obama at the 'Descendant' Premiere?". Netflix Tudum. Retrieved August 7, 2022.