- Volodymyr Zelenskyy spent most of his life building a career as a comedian and actor with shows like Servant of the People before he ventured into politics
- The 45 year old defeated incumbent President Petro Poroshenko to become Ukrainian president in 2019
- Despite having no political background, Zelenskyy has become a war time president and has shown true leadership, willing to die for his country in the Russia-Ukraine war
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is the no 1 citizen and the sixth president of Ukraine after he assumed office on May 20th 2019. His election came as a surprise, looking at his background in the entertainment industry as a comedian and actor.
Zelenskyy, unlike any other president before him made a name for himself on stage by making jokes about reality till he found his life copying his movie portrayal. Despite his election as a president, Zelenskyy’s greatest challenge remains the defense of his country in the Ukrainian war with Russia. Here is all we know about his rise to Ukraine’s highest office
Volodymyr Zelenskyy Is the First Ukrainian Comedian To Become A President
Looking at the history of world presidents, there are only a few comedians or actors that ever ascended to their country’s first place. One instance that comes to mind is Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States who enjoyed success as an actor before assuming office of the president from 1981 to 1989.
In Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s case, he was actively pursuing a career as a comedian, actor, director, script writer and producer before having a career turn around when he ran for president and won the elections.
He started his career in entertainment from a young age and over several years, registered his name as a TV icon. He is well known for his role in Paddington, Servant of the People, Love in the Big City and many others. Through his production company Kvartal 95, Zelenskyy released works that made him popular.
The role he played as ‘Vasyl Goborodko’, a high school teacher that later became the President of Ukraine in Servant of the People soon became a reality when the series ended two months before he assumed office.
Notably, Servant of the People, his political party was created in 2018 by members of his production team. According to him, they used the name to avoid its appropriation by others.
Moreso, most of his campaign was done through several social media channels. The media attacked him of avoiding journalist at the peak of the campaign. This did not stop him from campaigning using his best gift, comedy skits. His use of social media to post clips also added to his popularity as the ‘comedian’.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy Is Ready To Die For His Country
His assumption to office earned him the nickname of the ‘Comedian President’ yet, the 45 years old has proven that he understands the difference of acting and doing the job.
As the No 1 citizen of Europe’s second largest country, Zelenky’s is now the target of Russian invasion of the country. Ever since Russia attacked Ukraine in February of 2022, many lives and properties have been lost while many are left injured or displaced.
Zelenskyy who is used to production light is now faced with making decision that affect others, yet, he displayed a courage that many never saw coming in an actor from such lowly political background.
While Moscow is bent on riding over the country in a show of might, Zelenskyy is the target of their attack which may include the loss of his life. Notably, he has refused to flee the capital of the country, Kyiv despite the offer from other countries.
It was reported that less than three weeks into the Russsian invasion of Ukriane, Zelenskyy had survived as many as over a dozen assassination attempts by Moscow’s agents.
Other Fascinating Facts About The Comedian Turn President
1. He Was Born And Brought Up In A Jewish Settlement
As a second survivor generation of the holocaust, Zelenskyy also had the taste of the sad history. He and his parents Oleksandr and Rymma were born in the Jewish settlement of Kryvyu Rih, Ukraine. The town was occupied by Jews following the soviet instruction of separating Jews from other populations.
Throughout his life, he maintained that sense of being a Jew. His grandmother ran away during the holocaust to Kazakhstan while other members of his family like his great-grandfather and grandfathers’ brothers did not survive.
2. Volodymyr Zelenskyy Is The First Ukrainian President Of Jewish Origin
Zelenskyy has continued to show his support to Jewish history especially the holocaust. Though born in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy is the first person of Jewish origin to become the first citizens of the country.
The third president of Georgia, Mikhel Saakasvlili is also another president of Jewish origin. Moreso, Zelenskyy and the prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal are the only two heads of government of Jewish origin outside Israel in the world at the time of this writing.
3. His Wife is One of the Most Influential Ukrainian Women
Until he assumed office, Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena Kiyashko who is also known as Olena Zelenska was not well known. Yet, ever since she became the first lady, she is using her initiative to promote gender equality, preservation of the Ukrainian language, and reform of school nutrition.
She was listed among the 100 most Influential Ukrainians. Her infleunce is now showing more as she keeps pushing even as the country is faced with the challenges of the Ukrainian war with Russia.
4. The 45 Year Old Has Two Children With His Wife
Outside of his public image as a politician and media personality, Zelenskyy and his 45 years old wife, Olena are the parents to two children, Oleksandra and Kyrylo.
They had their first child, Aleksandra Zelenskaya, on July 15th, 2004 after their marriage in 2003.
Their family size remained the same for nearly a decade before they welcomed their second child, Kiril Zelenskiy, on January 21 2013.
5. His First Language Is Russian
The 6th president of Ukraine may be the topmost on the list of Russian enemies in the world yet, he has a close link to the country that define his interaction with others. His first language is Russian while he is fluent in Ukrainian and English.
Most of his works as an actor were done in Russian. Prior to becoming the president, Zelenskyy toured many countries including Russia. He once spent 6 years of his life in Mosco. His first work in Ukrainian language was in the Romantic comedy I, You, She, He in 2018.
6. Volodymyr Zelenskyy Won Against An Incombent President
Zelenskyy did not reveal his candidacy for office till months to the elections. In the months following his declaration he campaigned against the then president, Petro Poroshenko. His campaign was not done in the conventional way that people were used to in Ukraine.
He won the first round on March 31 2019 and swept off the run off in April of the same year. Zelenskyy assumed office on May 30th.
7. He Made A Fortune From His Acting Career
The comedian turned president started his career in the media at the age of 17. Volodymyr Zelensky made his net worth of $1.5 million dollars from all the works he did. Many have linked him to the Pandora’s Paper that was released stating how he gained from corruption. The paper alleged he owned offshore assets but he refuted claims that link him to corruption as a result of his offshore businesses.
Going back in time, he was linked to the Oligarch, Ihor Kolomoisky the owner of the channel that aired Zelenskyy’s hit show. In the hit of the campaign, there were fears that his decision would be impaired by their relationship.
At the moment though, Zelenskyy is concentrating on defending his country.