THE VOICE: BARACK OBAMA
In his unmistakably smooth baritone and measured cadence, Barack Obama opens the five-part series Our Great National Parks with a story about his mother. During her pregnancy, she would go to Hanauma Bay to listen to the ocean and soak up Hawaii’s natural beauty. “She used to joke that this was the reason I was so calm,” says the former president. “I had spent a lot of time here even before I arrived in the world.”
Obama steps effortlessly into his role as narrator of Our Great National Parks, a series that sweeps across five continents and countless national parks, including those in Chilean Patagonia; Tsavo, Kenya; and Gunung Leuser, Indonesia. “Obviously Barack Obama is no stranger to being on camera but this would be more personal,” says series producer Sophie Todd. “He wanted to share his passion for national parks in the place where he was born and spent the first years of his life, Hawaii.”
Obama grew up between Hawaii and Indonesia, and his storied political career — culminating in his two-term presidency — has made his even-keeled demeanor and powerful oration skills well known. Throughout the series, he weaves in stories from his travels and his childhood.
Along with the easy listening that is Obama’s voice, his wry humor and passion for protecting wild spaces resonate throughout the series. During his administration, he protected more lands and waters than any other president in history. In Our Great National Parks, he builds on that legacy, narrating over scenes of leaping lemurs, surfing hippos, and recordings of what is believed to be a newly discovered species, the hammerhead worm of Gunung Leuser.
The stories and insights that Obama shares about his connection to wild spaces ultimately underscore a single resounding message: We all have a stake in protecting these places, whether we’re aware of it or not. As he puts it, “The fabric of wild space connects to our lives in so many ways. It’s up to us to protect it, to care for it, and to pass it on to the next generation.”