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Drew Barrymore called Kamala Harris ‘Momala.’ The internet winced

The vice president and the actor’s conversation on “The Drew Barrymore Show” went viral.
 Drew Barrymore and Vice President Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris appeared as a guest on the April 29 episode of "The Drew Barrymore Show."The Drew Barrymore Show
/ Source: TODAY

A moment during Drew Barrymore’s recent interview with Vice President Kamala Harris has gone viral. 

On April 29, Harris appeared on “The Drew Barrymore Show” and discussed her family with husband and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Harris spoke about being a stepmom to Emhoff’s two children, Cole and Ella Emhoff, whom he shares with ex-wife Kerstin Emhoff. Harris explained that their family doesn’t use the term “step” and prefers to call her “Momala” instead. 

Barrymore said Harris’ family dynamic made her think about how the vice president can bring people together. The actor then suggested that the country as a whole needs Harris to take on the role of “Momala” — and some viewers instantly experienced second-hand embarrassment. 

At the beginning of their sit-down, Barrymore asked Harris about becoming a stepmom. 

“I love Disney. However, Disney kind of messed that up,” she laughed. “You know, for a lot of us over the years, (there was) the evil stepparent.”

She continued, “Their word for me is ‘Momala.’” The vice president previously mentioned the special title when she penned an essay for Elle in 2019 about her family. 

Harris opened up about having a friendship with her husband’s first wife and the importance of being committed to maintaining “mature relationships” with each other.

“It’s just not fair to (children) to put them in a situation where, intentionally or not, they are being manipulated around the adults’ weird relationships with each other,” she explained. “You have to sort that out.” 

Barrymore chimed in and said, “That’s a great segue to say that I keep thinking in my head that we all need a mom. I’ve been thinking that we really all need a tremendous hug in the world right now. But in our country, we need you to be ‘Momala’ of the country.”

The “Charlie’s Angels” star trended on social media as users shared the clip. Multiple comments described the interaction and her use of “Momala” as “cringey.”  

MSNBC's Zahara Hill wrote that the reference brought to mind the historical stereotype of the mammy, depicting Black women "overtly domestic and maternal to the point of subservience," Hill described.

"Though Barrymore almost certainly meant no harm, well-meaning white women in 2024 should have done the homework at this point," she wrote.

As for how the vice president felt, she simply nodded in response as the audience applauded. 

 Drew Barrymore and Vice President Kamala Harris
During an interview on "The Drew Barrymore Show," Harris spoke about her stepchildren referring to her as "Momala." The Drew Barrymore Show

“Yeah, I mean…” Harris began before Barrymore leaned in and held her hands. 

The talk show host added, “And as a woman who respects so much and wants to share and wants to be confident and has no ounce of me that has competitiveness — when we lift each other up, we all rise.” 

Harris agreed and clapped to show support for Barrymore’s message. 

“However, we need a great protector,” Barrymore said. 

Harris replied, “Well, you know, part of it is that I think that, sadly, over the last many years there’s been this kind of perverse approach to what strength looks like. Which is to suggest that the measure of one’s strength is based on who you beat down. Instead of what we know: the true measure of your strength is based on who you lift up.” 

She encouraged the audience to listen to each other and to be compassionate.