Lisa Leslie Blogs From Washington D.C.
In January, Sparks center Lisa Leslie chronicled her trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Less than two months later, she returned to the nation's capital and now returns with another blog post to share her experience.
It's My White House Too!!
Posted March 26, 2009
Well, as promised, I returned to the White House to participate in the Women's History Month Celebration along side our fabulous first lady. Aside from my husband, I cannot remember another person that made me feel like I was the only person in the room when they were talking to me, until meeting Michelle Obama. She said, “Just call me Michelle” when I asked her, “What do I call you?” Then she gave me another one of her patented hugs. I’m a hugger too so I felt right at home. Have you ever met anyone where you’ve felt like you’ve known them all your life and your spirits just connect? Well, that’s exactly what it’s like when you get the chance to meet the first lady. She makes you feel inspired! She makes me want to be a better wife, a better mom, a healthier eater and more of a giver to society, especially other girls and women! I know that many young girls and women admire me, but I admire Michelle and I see myself in her. She's a true reflection of all of us in the coolest, most positive way possible. So if you want to know what it's like meeting Michelle, it's like meeting yourself at your best. When you’re being the best you and giving of yourself to help someone else, that's what it feels like to meet my new BFF, Michelle Obama. Just real and down to earth, and her warm and caring spirit is infectious. In fact it’s contagious!
Michelle invited me along with some pretty extraordinary women such as Alicia Keys, Debbie Allen, Bobbi Brown, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sheryl Crow, Debra Lee, Debbie Allen and Sarah Jones just to name a few. Here we were bright and early and ready to share our stories along with the first lady at several of the local high schools in the D.C. area.
Now here is the inside scoop, I left Lauren with Michael for the first time and took our middle daughter, Miki, with me to meet the first lady. While rushing to finish my to-do list, I failed to get my hair done at the beauty shop as I would normally do for such a special occasion. A day later at the White House, the vision of my hair swelling from the lack of a professional curling iron came to fruition, I became desperate for help. Well guess who came through? My new BFF, Michelle!! As we continued to talk about our day ahead and the dinner later, I became so comfortable that before I knew it, I told her, “I really need a stylist.“ Within seconds, she had it all arranged. She asked, “Do you want your hair done now or before the dinner?” She continued, “I will take care of it.” And she did. Once again, a woman of her word and she saw I was in need. I thanked her once again and told her after the school visit would be great. She never missed a beat and off to the schools we went. I was paired with the fabulous Ms. Bobbi Brown. Her make-up line says it all because almost ever celebrity there used her products and went on and on about the foundations and lipsticks. We both shared our stories and spoke to some pretty awesome teenagers at Coolidge High School in the D.C. area.
Once we all returned to the White House, most of us went on a tour of the East Wing. We saw the China Room (with all the china selected by each president), the Red Room (which is where the first ladies often held their tea parties), the Blue Room (which at one time was used as the cigar room, but now it’s a library). And last but not least, the largest room in the White House, the East Room, where we would later gather for dinner.
Speaking of dinner, it was time for me to rush back to my hotel to meet the first lady’s personal hair stylist, Mr. Jonathan Wright. When I opened my hotel door to greet him, I realized I knew him already. What a relief. I knew my hair was in good hands so I just told him to do what he does best. He was so cool and he whipped my hair into a cute updo in no time. He also gave be some great advice about products to use on my hair. You know I had to ask because he was using the same products on me that he uses on the first lady. (Some things have to be kept secret!!) As we laughed and talked, all we could talk about was how blessed we both were to be in the presence of the first lady. He packed up from L.A. to be her hair stylist and she left the same impression on him as she did on me…just awesome, down to earth and intelligent. After Mr. Wright hooked my hair up just right, Miki and I were ready for the dinner.
As we entered the White House, an earlier quote from the first lady rang in head, “The White House is not just my house, it’s your house too!” I was beginning to feel at home as the security guards starting saying, “Welcome back, Ms. Leslie.” It was true, the White House belongs to all of us and on this night the Obama’s were opening up the doors to about 100 young girls in the area to experience it for the first time. I was so glad to be a part of another historical moment. All the celebrities in the room took pictures with all the young girls, ate dinner and witnessed some of the most talented women in the world: Fran Drescher, Sheryl Crow, Sarah Jones and the phenomenal Alicia Keys.
As this positive and empowering evening came to an end, I went to my new BFF and asked, “On behalf of the WNBA, would you please let us honor you at our WNBA Luncheon in Chicago this summer in July?” She thought for a quick moment and said, “We will see if we can fit it in my schedule. Follow up with my assistant.” I hugged her once again and thanked her for getting me the hook up on my hair. She replied again, “Your welcome,” and flashed her beautiful smile once again as I said, “Bye.”
Well, now it’s up to me. I am on another mission, to get my new BFF, Michelle Obama, to the WNBA luncheon in Chicago so we can honor her. I don’t know of any other woman….OK, aside from Oprah, who is as deserving as Michelle Obama is of our Inspiring Woman of the Year Award!
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Lisa Leslie, seeking to get my new BFF, Michelle Obama, to the luncheon!!
Finally Meeting President Obama
Posted March 12, 2009
As you all read and followed my journey to the inauguration in January, you know I was seeking to meet President Obama. My mom always told me that, "Whatever you put in the universe is what you get back!" She was right, and my husband and I live by that motto today. Out of the clear blue sky, Michael Alter, the owner of the Chicago Sky, calls to see if I would like to go meet President Obama and the first lady. "Of course," I exclaimed! Then I said, "Are you serious"? He was! Boy I tell you, God Is Good All The Time!!
I met up with our WNBA President and off we went to the White House. We arrived and took pictures in the Blue Room. We met so many wonderful people like the president and CEO of CARE. I also spoke to several new Cabinet members including Eric Holder, the first African American attorney general, who joked he was not only a fan, but was a little upset his two daughters took to soccer more than basketball. After twenty minutes of mingling with the bigwigs, Donna and I were summoned to take our seats… IN THE FRONT ROW!!
Oh my goodness, wait ‘til my grandma hears this. After taking several photos with other guests who are fans of the WNBA, including Dominique Dawes, they asked us to take our seats to begin the program.
As we sat down the energy of the room was high with anticipation of the next announcement. To our surprise, in walks the soon to be elected White House Council on Women and Girls. After a standing ovation, the first lady, Michelle Obama was introduced. Wearing her Sparks purple, I was so proud to see her. She walked tall and looked downright elegant with her smile lighting up the room. We all wanted to hug her. Well I did, but Donna got lucky and sat one seat away from her, so she shook Donna's hand and thanked her for coming. As the first lady's ovation came to an end (two minutes later), they announced Valerie Jarrett who is so awesome, you all need to google her because I don't have enough time to write how wonderful she is. But one thing’s for sure President Obama knows how great she is, that's why he elected her Chair of the Council to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls. I sat near her mother, who looked on as proud as any parent would be to see their daughter (who's African American) be as close as she is to the president. She spoke and before long, without further ado, she said “I give you the president....” or something like that :)
And there he was... OMG, I'm going to faint... He is really tall, handsome and cool; just like he looks on TV. And a little pigeon toed I might add. As he made his way to the podium, he looked at me and WAVED!!! (ok, well he couldn't miss me standing 6'5 plus heels... Don't hate, he waved at ME!)
I was truly feeling like a kid at a concert who got touched by Michael Jackson back in the day.
He smiled a great smile and began another one of his eloquent speeches. He made all women feel like he understood our struggles in this world of male domination. He spoke about us receiving lower pay while doing the same work, the struggles in sports and his support of Title IX. He learned so much from his grandmother and mother that he will not let their hard work be in vain. It was great to hear the leader of our country not only recognize the inequalities in our country, but sign his first Executive Order creating this council to ensure that our children have a higher seat to sit in than we do today. Simply the Best!! Today was a great day for all women and girls.
After the president signed the order, he said he wanted to meet a few people. I was honored to be one of those people. President Obama shook my hand and said he was happy I was there. As the first lady passed behind us, he said, leaning his head in her direction, "And you know I like tall women!" We smiled as I then presented him with two personalized autographed books for Sasha and Malia. I told the president it was an honor to meet him and that my husband and mom love him too and pray for his family. We were interrupted by photographers who snapped photos including Veteran Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki. I was smiling so hard! I then went on to challenge the president to a game when he comes to LA. He then said, "We will invite you back out when we put the basketball courts up outside on the tennis courts." I replied, "I'm going to hold you to that." He then looked down at the books and said, "That's a good looking photo on the cover." I said thanks as he walked away.
With no time to breathe, the first lady was coming close behind. I waited patiently as she greeted the lady next to me (Nina V. Fedoroff, Science and Technology Advisor). Her focus was so polite. She looked each person in their eyes and made you feel special. As her eyes turned to me I put my hand out and she pulled me in for a big hug. Again, sometimes we have to just stop and give our fans a hug (actually, I do all the time), but you never know how happy it will make them. I was so happy. I told the first lady that my family loved her too and I presented her with my husband’s book, "Women Have All The Power: Too Bad They Don't Know It." I then added, "I would love to help you in any way involving giving back to women and children," (once again, I put it in the universe). The first lady said, "I would love for you to join me next week. I will have my assistant come to you."
Well, I will keep y'all posted on my next White House visit. Until next time, as my baby Lauren says every time a man sneezes, "God Bless You Obama!"
Lisa Leslie - seeking to be Michelle Obama's new BFF