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Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions Ushers in New Era

The former President and First Lady’s media company made significant hires last week, bolstering an already-strong roster of talent.

Higher Ground Productions, the media company founded by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, is ready to begin a new chapter. Late last week, it poached podcast executives from Spotify and Pushkin Industries to elevate its audio brand, as reported by Variety.

Higher Ground hired Corrine Gilliard from Spotify’s studies and partnerships division. She served as EP for several podcasts and was a senior producer on Oprah Winfrey’s CBS primetime special interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

The company also nabbed Nick White from Pushkin, where he served as an executive producer, most notably on projects with Paul Simon, Malcolm Gladwell, and Bruce Headlam. Finally, Higher Ground has hired Andrew Eapen, a sound engineer who worked on podcasts with Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen when Higher Ground was partnered with Spotify.

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“We’re bolstering our incredible audio team by bringing in outside superstars and elevating our stellar internal talent,” Dan Fierman, Higher Ground’s head of audio, said in a statement. “The future of audio at Higher Ground is very bright.”

Formed in 2018, Higher Ground has a TV and film deal with Netflix, and has made several films, including American Factory, Becoming — a documentary on Michelle Obama’s book tour. It also created Crip Camp and Descendent in Oct. 2022. Each film was nominated for an Emmy and/or Academy Award.

Higher Ground has multiple projects in the works, too. These range from an adaption of Frederick Douglass’s biography, a drama series for fashion scenes from post-WWII New York City, and an anthology series of the New York Times obituary column, sighting deaths of significant people not reported.

In conjunction with Spotify, Higher Ground first created The Michelle Obama Podcast in July 2020. They then slashed the partnership in June and signed a multi-million deal with Audible.

It’s been a big few days for Higher Ground; the company also added two Emmy wins to its collection last week. “Ada Twist, Scientist” and “We The People” — both featured on Netflix — won awards for Outstanding Preschool Animated Series and Outstanding Short Form Program at the inaugural Children’s and Family Emmy Awards. This brings the production company’s total Emmy wins to three.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a former Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.