"Part of what I believe in is that the essence of this country, what makes this place special, is this idea that Hollywood has glorified and held up -- but I actually think it's true," Obama said, "That here more than anyplace else, no matter what you look like, where you come from, what your last name is, who you love, you should be able to make it if you're willing to work hard."
Speaking after a tour of DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, Calif., the studio of one of his biggest fundraisers and supporters Jeffrey Katzenberg, Obama criticized congressional Republicans for revisiting issues rather than "work with us to improve" laws such as the Affordable Care Act and implement policies that would create jobs and strengthen the middle class.
He called Southern California, with its myriad of film, music and television studios, "one of America's economic engines" and one of America's biggest exports.
"Entertainment is part of our American diplomacy," Obama said, "it's part of what makes us exceptional makes us a world power."
"As a consequence, you've helped shaped world culture help make it better," Obama said. "That is a remarkable legacy. That's also a big responsibility ... The stories we tell matter."
Obama singled out gun violence as an area where the entertainment industry has a big responsibility.
"When it comes to issues like gun violence, we've got to make sure we're not glorifying it," he said.
Reiterating his economic successes, Obama noted his administration has refocused manufacturing and exports, helped the country become less dependent on foreign oil, invested in rebuilding the nation's infrastructure and "yes, we decided to fix a broken healthcare system."
Despite improved bottom lines for Wall Street and businesses, lowered federal deficits and reduced spending, "too many Americans are not sharing in that success," Obama said, stressing that his top priority is to ensure that "everybody who is willing to work hard can get ahead."
"The good news is this is a fight that we're going to keep fighting because it's worth fighting," Obama said. "We may have different ideas and policies on how to do things, but it shouldn't negate that core vision of what we're fighting for. And we should be able to sit down together and to keep dreaming and keep working ... to make sure that the American dream that's been described here in Southern California is sustained for generations to come."
What's stopping that conversation isn't policy details or technical issues, Obama said, but summoning "the courage to put politics aside once in a while and remember that we've got more in common than our politics would suggest."