Barry debuted at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year and will begin streaming on Netflix on Friday. The film highlights Barack Obama’s life at Columbia University in the early 1980s, illustrating his struggles as a biracial student trying to find a place for himself in a world of social and racial inequality.

Netflix Biopic ‘Barry’

“This is an incredibly unique American story and it’s stranger than fiction,” Barry director Vikram Gandhi told NBC News. “When we think about Barack Obama’s story — it’s about what it means to be an American.”

Australian actor Devon Terrell plays the role of Obama in the film, as he searches for ways to understand who he is — he looks in classroom discussions about the government’s role in individual lives, on basketball courts in the neighborhood, on a field trip to a party in the projects and in the eyes of his white girlfriend Charlotte.

Penned by writer Adam Mansbach, who was influenced by the themes in Obama’s Dreams from My Father memoir, Barry reflects on Obama’s transformation from being “Barry” to political leader “Barack.” The film focuses on the people who helped his growth, whether it be the campus cop who questions Obama’s presence at a predominantly white college or the street bookseller who speaks with him about Du Bois and Ellison.


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The film also touches on Obama’s relationship with his absent father, an official in Kenya who makes little attempts to stay in touch with his son.

“It’s good to remember that he was a guy named Barry who grew up in Hawaii,” Gandhi shared.

“His mother was a bit of hippie, he didn’t know his father. The guy is incredibly relatable,” the director added. “What drew him to make these big leaps into becoming a leader just came from a drive to make sense of everything.”

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