Obama: My Netflix Projects Will Help ‘Train the Next Generation of Leaders’ and Heal Our Political Divide

US President Barack Obama smiles at the annual White House Correspondent's Association Gala at the Washington Hilton hotel April 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. The dinner is an annual event attended by journalists, politicians and celebrities. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Barack Obama is speaking out about how he wants to use the film projects he develops with Netflix to heal the political divide and tell America’s stories.

Earlier this week, Netflix announced it is partnering with Barack and Michelle Obama to develop original content for the video streaming giant. Initially, no real details were released — including the actual price tag of the contract. But three days later Obama has filled in some of the blanks about his plans, Business Insider reported.

Speaking at a Las Vegas tech conference hosted by cybersecurity company Okta, Obama waxed poetic about the “stories” Americans have to tell and said he wants to use his multi-year contract with Netflix to help “train the next generation of leaders.”

Barack Obama said he relied on “stories” to fuel his political career. “Everyone has a story that is pretty sacred” about their life, Obama said. Listening to people’s stories is what helped him better serve, he explained.

“We want to tell stories. This [Netflix deal] becomes a platform. We are interested in lifting people up and identifying people doing amazing work,” Obama said, adding, “We did this in the White House.”

Obama related meetings to hear the stories of Hamilton creator and Broadway producer Lin-Manuel Miranda and rocker Bruce Springsteen, and he noted that identifying talent in a similar fashion is his intent with Netflix.

Obama said he wants to produce stories “we think are important, and lift up and identify talent, that can amplify the connections between all of us. I continue to believe that if we are hearing each other’s stories and recognizing ourselves in each other, then our democracy works.”

“We are all human. I know this sounds trite, and yet, right now globally, we have competing narratives,” Obama said.

The ex-president also warned against “tribalism,” saying that when people feel threatened, “We go tribal. We go ethnic. We pull in, we push away.”

He concluded saying he wants to use Netflix to help “set up institutions based on rule of law and a sense of principals and the dignity and worth of every individual.”

Finally, after noting there is still a “clash” in the country, Obama told the crowd what he hopes his new work will do.

“I’m putting my money on the latter way,” Obama said. “That’s what we hope to be a voice to, through Netflix and through my foundation, where we’re identifying and training the next generation of leaders here in the United States and around the world. So they can start sharing their stories and cooperating.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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