Well, hello, everyone. Welcome to the White House. We are very thrilled to have you all here today on the International Day of the Girl for the debut screening of “We Will Rise.” Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe we are here. (Laughter.) It’s a good thing.
I want to thank a few people. Meryl, you can share this position. (Laughter.) If only I had known that eight years ago! (Laughter.) We could have shared this whole experience, you and me. (Laughter.) But Meryl, obviously, the great Meryl Streep has just devoted her not-a-lot-of time to this project. And she is a delightful -- she is delightful and is intelligent and is focused and engaged -- as you would imagine Meryl Streep to be. That’s what I tell everybody. Meryl Streep is exactly as awesome as you would imagine Meryl Streep to be. (Applause.)
Oh, and Andra. Oh, gosh. Let’s just -- (applause) -- Andra comes, hangs out all the time. We’re always asking her to sing -- “Can you sing again? Can you come back?” And she’s like, yes, of course. But almost every time -- every other time, I miss you singing. And I’m so glad -- you take my breath away, not just with your music and your voice, but with your spirit, which is as pure as your voice is. So, Andra, thank you for lending your talent to this project. (Applause.)
And in addition to Meryl, I had a couple of other partners in crime in this project -- Freida, Freida Pinto, who could not be here today. But she was amazing. You’ll see how hard she has worked on this project. Isha, of course. (Applause.) She is just terrific. (Applause.) She was trying to pass as the third Obama child -- (laughter) -- as she told me back there. And I was like, you are welcome any time. (Laughter.)
To Jeff, thank you. To the Doc Group, thank you all. Amy, thank you so much for this work. My dear friend, Virginia Moseley, who -- there she goes. We are all -- we’re bemoaning the fact that our daughters are gone and away from us. So this is a good distraction, right? Don’t you think, a good project? (Laughter.)
But to everyone else at CNN and elsewhere who helped make this remarkable documentary possible -- see Diane Warren there as well. I’m going to call you out because -- “This is For My Girls,” the writer of the song that we made popular in “Carpool Karaoke.” (Laughter.) And it was actually Diane’s idea that we do “Carpool Karaoke.” She’s like, you’ve got to do “Carpool Karaoke.” I’m like, really? (Laughter.) She’s like, it’s going to be a hit, I guarantee you. And I was like, I guess she was right. (Laughter.)
But this is really a dream come true for me, this documentary. And I’m so grateful to all of you for making this possible. I know it was a lot of hard work, a lot of passion, love and dedication. But I’m so grateful.
And of course, I want to especially honor the girls we have, the young ladies here today. (Applause.) We have the young women from Liberia and Morocco who had the courage to share their stories and who are truly the stars of this film and this day. Having you all here, bringing you physically here, was always a part of this vision. So I’m grateful to everyone -- all the embassies, all of the supporters who have made it possible for you guys to be here, not just here to screen the movie, but you’re going to get to see Washington. And you’ve done so many things, and I understand you’re already bonding. And this is part of that girl-power network, this is how we rise up together. So maintain those connections as you go through this. (Applause.)
But having these girls -- that’s what Let Girls Learn is about. It’s about telling the stories of these girls and girls like them across the globe -- not just their challenges and their struggles, but their dreams and their aspirations -- which are big. Their unrelenting bravery and determination -- yes, I’m talking about you all -- the miles they have to walk each day just to get to school. The hours they spend each night studying, making their families proud. Their refusal to give up, even in the face of some overwhelming odds that would stifle many of us.
Because since we launched Let Girls Learn, time and again we have seen that whether it’s a head of state, a corporate CEO, or a teenage girl here in the U.S., when people hear your stories -- the stories of girls who aren’t in school -- they’re moved, and they’re outraged. And, better yet, they want to help. And that was certainly true for me.
These girls, and girls like them, are my inspiration. I carry their stories with me every single day. And it was a privilege to bring my mother and my daughters with me to Liberia and Morocco and -- for them to get to meet you. And that was our very last trip together during our time in the White House, so it was special for so many different reasons. Because while we represent three different generations, each of us -- my mom, my daughters, myself -- we saw ourselves in these young women that we met -– in their passion, and their intellect, and their resolve. And I hope that this movie about their lives will serve as a call to action. I hope that people around the world will be as inspired as I am to step up and to speak out on behalf of girls around the world who struggle to go to school.
So many of you in this room have already answered that call, and for that I am grateful -- making powerful commitments from your companies and your organizations, serving in agencies across the federal government that are driving our girls’ education efforts. That’s why you all are here. And I am so, so incredibly grateful to all of you for everything that you’ve done to give so many girls the opportunities they need to fulfill what we know are their boundless potential.
So I am excited about this moment, this time. I haven’t seen the film at all. I’ve seen a clip here or there. I know Meryl has been checking it twice. (Laughter.) So I’m as excited as everyone to see this movie. So with that, I’m going to stop talking so that we can hear directly from some of these girls and learn about their amazing stories.
So it is now my pleasure and my honor to present to you: “We Will Rise.”