The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has brought worldwide attention to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Here are five things you might not know about Zelensky.
1. Elected In Landslide: Zelensky won Ukraine's 2019 presidential election, beating incumbent Petro Poroshenko. Zelensky won all but one voting region of the country and won 73.2% of the popular vote. The 2019 election saw a 62.1% voter turnout. For reference, the 2020 U.S. presidential election had 66.8% voter turnout.
“I will never let you down,” Zelensky told supporters after his victory.
2. Famous Actor Before Presidency: Prior to becoming the president of Ukraine, Zelensky was best known as an actor and comedian. In fact, Zelensky portrayed a president on a series called “Servant of the People.”
The satirical show stars Zelensky as a teacher who accidentally becomes president of Ukraine. The character on the show is elected after a rant about corruption goes viral on social media and inspires the country. Zelensky ran under the same political party name that was used in his show.
“Servant of the People” aired for three seasons before ending in 2019, when Zelensky entered politics.
One role credited to Zelensky that many did not know about until recently was the president providing the voice of Paddington bear in the dubbed versions of “Paddington” and “Paddington 2” in Ukraine.
“Hello to my darling friends. I, Volodymyr Zelensky, will lend my voice to the wonderful, charismatic, friendly bear Paddington,” Zelensky said in a promotional video.
3. Comedian First: Prior to landing as an actor, Zelensky was best known for his comedy. The Ukrainian president graduated from Kyiv National Economic University in 2000 with a law degree, but comedy became his first calling.
Zelensky co-founded comedy troupe Kvartal 95 in 1997. The company started producing television series in 2003. The company had many successful hits in the Ukraine and worldwide.
“Our ambitious objective is to make the world a better place, a kinder and more joyful place with the help of those tools that we have, that is humor and creativity,” Zelensky said.
While running for president, Zelensky continued touring with the Kvartal 95 comedy troupe and even mocked his opponents in his stand-up routines.
4. Zelensky Won 'Dancing With The Stars': As Zelensky becomes a national and international hero, old clips of his movies and series are going viral across social media. One clip going viral is of Zelensky competing on the Ukrainian version of international reality show “Dancing with the Stars.”
Zelensky competed and won the inaugural season of the show, which aired on 1+1 in October and November 2006. Zelensky was paired with Olena Shoptenko. The duo beat seven other contestants, including singer Natalia Mohylevska, who finished runner-up.
The Ukrainian version of the show is based on the British show “Strictly Come Dancing,” on which the American version that airs on The Walt Disney Co’s DIS ABC channel is based.
5. Large Social Media Following: Many national leaders have large followings on social media. Zelensky is no exception and he entered the presidency with a large following that helped him communicate and appeal to voters.
Zelensky has 14.1 million followers on Instagram, a platform owned by Meta Platforms FB. U.S. President Joe Biden has 17.7 million followers on Instagram for comparison.
On Twitter Inc TWTR, Zelensky has 4.6 million followers. Zelensky’s followers on social media have increased in number during the Russia-Ukraine conflict as he has used the platforms to share updates and live videos.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in February. Ukrainian government photo via Wikimedia.
© 2023 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.