Michelle Obama heads to IGTV for her new series ‘A Year of Firsts’

By KC Ifeanyi

Michelle Obama and her Reach Higher initiative have partnered with digital production company Attn: for a new IGTV series chronicling the college experiences of four freshman across the country.

A Year of Firsts will follow students in Washington D.C., Alabama, North Dakota, and California as they film themselves showing what it’s like during their first year of college.

“As a first-generation college student myself, I know how intimidating it can be to take that leap and pursue your educational dreams,” Obama in a statement. “That’s why I’m so proud of these students. By sharing their stories, they’re helping others see that the ups and downs of the first year of college are something everyone goes through—and they’re creating a supportive community for others facing similar challenges.”

A Year of Firsts is an extension of the work Obama started with Reach Higher, the organization she founded during her time as the First Lady that’s focused on inspiring students and giving them the resources to pursue higher education.

It also marks another notable get for IGTV through Attn:.

In 2018, Attn: launched a 10-episode IGTV series called Here’s the Deal featuring Joe Biden breaking down topical political issues facing the country. The show marked the first IGTV series to be hosted by a major politician and actually pulled in solid numbers despite IGTV’s fledgling status at the time with total series views reaching 3.5 million and generating 15 million impressions overall.

Attn: followed Here’s the Deal with its second IGTV exclusive, Be Your Biggest Fan, a series promoting self-esteem featuring Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin that pulled in two million total series views.

Now comes A Year of Firsts, fresh on the heels of the Obamas post-White House content blitz including their production company Higher Ground that premiered its first documentary American Factory last year.

Attn: seems to have hit some kind of stride with IGTV, despite Attn: cofounder Matthew Segal having reservations with the nascent video platform around the launch of Here’s the Deal. In a 2018 interview with Fast Company, Segal said, “We’re putting on a show that we’re paying for ourselves because we believe in it, but ultimately we want [Instagram] to fund shows. If you want good quality content, it costs money.”

Although Attn: declined to comment on the financial deals of all their programming, a spokesperson did say that “A Year of Firsts is part of the company’s self-funded, original programming slate.”

“As Mrs. Obama highlights in each episode, there are many hidden challenges to making it through college,” Segal said in a statement. “This series will meet many students where they live—on Instagram—and share candid perspectives about how to overcome barriers.”

And it also could give more people a reason to tune into IGTV.

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