Just after hosting the 2013 National Governors' Dinner on Sunday night at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama filmed a live spot for the 2013 Academy Awards, announcing the Best Picture category from the White House. Clad in the glittering Naeem Khan gown she wore for the dinner, Mrs. Obama was introduced for her surprise appearance on the global broadcast by the legendary Jack Nicholson, who was onstage in Hollywood. Mrs. Obama stood in the Diplomatic Reception Room, where she held the envelope with the name of the winning film, Argo, directed by Ben Affleck. Nine films were in the running. (Above, a White House photo)
"I am so honored to help introduce this year's nominees for best picture and to help celebrate the movies that lift our spirits, broaden our minds and transport us to places we have never imagined," Mrs. Obama said onscreen.
"These nine movies took us back in time and all around the world they made us laugh, they made us weep and they made us grip our armrests just a little tighter. They taught us that love can endure against all odds and transform our lives in the most surprising ways, and they reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage to believe in ourselves," Mrs. Obama said.
"These lessons apply to all of us no matter who we are or what we look like or where we come from or who we love, but they are especially important for our young people, every day through engagement in the arts, our children learn to open their imaginations to dream just a little bigger and to strive every day to reach those dreams."
The First Lady's Communications Director, Kristina Schake, said in a statement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited Mrs. Obama to be a presenter.
"The Academy Awards approached the First Lady about being a part of the ceremony," Schake said.
"As a movie lover, she was honored to present the award and celebrate the artists who inspire us all--especially our young people--with their passion, skill and imagination," Schake said.
Above, Mrs. Obama as she appeared on the jumbo screen at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, with Nicholson at bottom left. After her star-turn, the First Lady tweeted about how "thrilled" she was to participate in Hollywood's biggest night, and congratulated Argo.
"It was a thrill to announce the #Oscars2013 best picture winner from the @WhiteHouse! Congratulations Argo! -mo," Mrs. Obama wrote on her @FLOTUS account.
UPDATE: Deadline Hollywood reports on the backstory of how Mrs. Obama made her cameo. It was the brainchild of Lily Weinstein, daughter of film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was a top-tier bundler for President Obama's re-election campaign, raising millions for the 2012 race. Deadline noted:
"The idea of getting the First Lady on the show first came from Lily Weinstein, who mentioned it to her big Obama contributor dad Harvey, who suggested it to the Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Academy president Hawk Koch. The group flew to DC a week and a half ago to put the logistics together with the White House. The Oscar producers told Deadline’s Pete Hammond earlier this week that they “were being like the CIA” about a couple of surprises on the show, keeping things top secret. In towns like Hollywood and DC where people love to talk, they pulled it off. There was no indication on the show’s rundown and most of the people on the Oscars had no idea who the secret guest would be. “I knew we could do it and we did it,” Koch told Deadline tonight about keeping Obama’s name under wraps.
The First Lady was actually handed the envelope with the winner’s name in it by the head of PricewaterhouseCoopers at the White House."
On Feb. 13, Mrs. Obama hosted an arts workshop at the White House for 80 middle and high school students that featured a screening of Oscar-nominated Beasts of The Southern Wild, which included the 9-year-old star, nominated actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who did not win this evening. Mrs. Obama described the film as "beautiful, joyful and devastatingly honest." Last November, the cast and crew of nominated Lincoln, including star Daniel Day-Lewis (Best Actor winner) and director Steven Spielberg, visited the White House to screen the film for President Obama and Mrs. Obama.
It was a thrill to announce the #Oscars2013 best picture winner from the @whitehouse! Congratulations Argo! -mo
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) February 25, 2013
Michelle Obama. Wow. #Oscars twitter.com/TheAcademy/sta…
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) February 25, 2013