Actress Jenna Elfman: Michelle Obama Inspired Portrayal of First Lady

By Elizabeth Harrington | January 9, 2013 | 5:08 PM EST

Actress Jenna Elfman (AP Photo)

( Actress Jenna Elfman said Wednesday she drew inspiration from first lady Michelle Obama for her own role as first lady in the NBC comedy, “1600 Penn,” during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“It’s kind of between my own imagination, and certainly I think I love what Michelle Obama has done for the position of first lady,” she said of her role as Emily Gilchrist on the show, which depicts a first family’s experience living at the White House.

“They're loving, fun and a little crazy. In other words, just like everyone else,” a show summary on the NBC website said.

Members of the cast and creators Jon Lovett, Jason Winer, and Josh Gad also appeared at the National Press Club, before heading to the White House for a screening of the show with the president.

Mrs. Obama “brings energy and participation and presence and health and pride of your own self as a woman and fitness … and also being a mother and a wife who’s supportive and cognizant of what’s going on with her husband,” Elfman said. 

“So I certainly was inspired of that, and also I’m on a TV show in our contemporary world today, and she is our first lady, so I definitely didn’t want to ignore that, and I also felt liberated by that, because I do feel youthful,” she said.

“And I wanted to bring youthfulness to the position of first lady, because I feel your first instinct when you think first lady is not that, but Michelle Obama has changed that in our consciousness,” Elfman said.

The “Dharma and Greg” star, who has been married for 18 years, said she hoped to get the opportunity to speak with Mrs. Obama “woman to woman” about the “dynamics” of being first lady and being married “under high stress circumstances.”

“I just really hope Michelle is there, because I really, as playing the first lady, I just want to have the opportunity to ask a real first lady—I mean I’ll sign a confidentiality agreement, I’m very trustworthy,” Elfman said. 

“I am so curious as a woman, being a mother, a working mother, I mean I’ve read plenty that she’s said about being a working mother throughout the years, but just once you’re the first lady, and marriage, and the dynamics of that, which I’ve been married for 18 years. You know it’s not like a calm, boring thing, being married, let alone being married under high stress circumstances,” she added.

“Just as a woman I have so many questions and which will probably not happen today,” Elfman said. “But I do have a dream to just ask her woman to woman, what is that like? 

“I’m very curious, out of respect and admiration,” she said.

Asked what specifically she would ask if she gets the chance, Elfman said, “I would probably ask her what is the most challenging territory in terms of holding it together. What do you find the most challenging that requires your utmost focus and control?

“And I really want to know like in the residence are there Secret Service posted outside your bedroom, because when you’re having a fight with your husband and you’re raging from one room to the next, are people hearing you? Or do you truly have privacy to go toe-to-toe with your husband?” she added.