The writer is a BA Political Studies graduate who loves to express his political knowledge in practical ways.
When it comes to politics, the place of celebrities cannot be downplayed, from Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Obama for the office of president, Leonardo DiCaprio's promotion of political causes through environmental activism, to Arnold Schwarzenegger's entrance into mainstream politics, celebrities have always played prominent roles in this space.
In my opinion, it seems as though there is an intersection of some sort between politics and the celebrity which is best seen in John Street's definition of the concept of celebrity politician.
Street identifies celebrity politician CP1 who is a politician including those who move from careers in show business into politics and capitalizes on celebrity styles or popular culture strategies to boost their public image or get elected.
Politicians under the CP1 category who may or may not have a background in the entertainment industry amass political capital by posing with celebrities who endorse them or appearing on tv talk shows, movies, or entertainment stages , etc. A typical example is when President Barack Obama appeared on the "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in 2012.On the late-night show, the president, assisted by the host, shared his thoughts on the interest rate of student loans with slow tempo music playing in the background by the American hip hop band, The Roots.
The other type, celebrity politician CP2, is a celebrity who uses their status to influence political opinion or influence political outcomes without seeking elected office.
A clear example of those under this category is musician Taylor swift. On her Instagram platform with over 200 million followers, Taylor endorsed Democrat Phil Bredesen for the Senate and Jim Cooper for the House of Representatives in her home state of Tennessee ahead of the 2018 elections. She mentioned that she would not vote for the opposing female candidate because of her scary voting patterns in Congress.
Differences between CP1 and CP2
1. Involved in mainstream Politics
Not in mainstream politics
2. Could have a background in the entertainment industry or not.
Always have a background in the entertainment industry
3. Uses popular culture strategies to amass political capital
Uses popular culture strategies to influence political decision or to promote a political cause.
The common denominator here is that both CP1 and CP2 employ popular culture strategies to play a role in the arena of politics.
This article seeks to present some celebrities who assumed full-time roles in politics as politicians and those who are not in mainstream politics but promoted political causes or tried to influence political decision.
There is no way Africa’s and even the World’s sports history would be written without reference made to George Weah, the King George of Liberia.
The 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year rose from playing in Liberia to playing for big football clubs like AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, and Paris Saint Germain. Weah has worn the coveted Ballon D’or award among many others.
After a great career in sports alloyed with philanthropy, he found a new sport in politics. As persistent as he was in the world of sports, he did not bulge after failing his bid to become president and vice president until he became a senator. However, being a senator was not enough, Weah had his eyes on the big seat, a vision which saw him running again for president.
In 2018, the former sportsman turned senator finally became the president of Liberia, making him the first sportsman to assume such position in the history of his country.
While in government, the multitalented leader released a song in the wake of COVID-19 to sensitize people about the dreadful disease.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 did not only have us painfully follow the gruesome shelling of buildings and innocent people, hoping and praying it would all come to an end, but it kept us proudly following the unflinching and brave president of Ukraine, Volodymir Zelensky.
Although a graduate of law from the University of Kyiv National Economic University, Zelensky took a detour into the entertainment industry by becoming a comedian, an actor, and a producer.
He played a role as the president of Ukraine in one of his movies and later became a real president by defeating the incumbent president Petro Poroshenko with a landslide victory.
Holding a record of 62 wins out of 72 fights of which 39 were by knockouts, the PACMAN of the world of boxing, Manny Pacquiao is the only boxer to have won world titles in eight different weight divisions, earning him the octuple champion title.
While still in the boxing business, Manny became a representative for Sarangani congressional district in the lower house of the Philippines bicameral legislature and later became a senator in the Senate known as the upper house.
In 2021, Manny announced his retirement from boxing in a Facebook video post and has hence declared his intentions of running for the office of president of the Philippines in 2022
Known as the 40th president of the United States of America, Ronald Regan is the first movie actor and TV personality to have assumed the position of POTUS.
If Regan were to present his CV, he would mention his experiences as a radio sports announcer, actor, tv host, union leader, the 33rd governor of California, and then mention his tenure as the occupant of the highest seat in the USA
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger
When you hear movie titles like Terminator, Conan the Barbarian, or Commando, one name comes to mind, Arnold Schwarzenegger. A spectacular actor by all standards whom most of us still call by the names of the characters he played in movies, the titles of the movies he starred in, or some famous phrases in his movies like, “I will be back”
Arnold entered the world of fame through weight lifting where he won Mr. Universe at the age of 20. He later entered Hollywood where he starred in many blockbuster movies and later went on to become the 38th governor of California between 2003 and 2011, bringing with him many years of fame and skills accumulated from the sports and the movie industries.
Oprah Winfrey’s name is synonymous with qualifications such as powerful black woman, wealthy black woman, Philanthropist, and influential woman among many others.
Oprah Winfrey was the host of a tv program dubbed the Oprah Winfrey show which reached 15 million people daily and thus said to have conducted interviews with about 35000 people in its 25 years of running on tv.
The influence of Oprah is evident in the number of products that shot to fame after they were endorsed on the Oprah show by her, a kind of influence that brought about the term known as the opera effect.
Though not in active Politics like those mentioned above, maybe not yet, she endorsed Obama for president and appeared in his campaign, an action which is said to have garnered more than one million votes for Obama; the Opera effect, right?
Today, she is the co-founder of OWN Networks with Warner Bros’ Discovery Communication. she holds the position of CEO and Chairwoman of the network.
Leonardo de Caprio is not only known for his leading roles in movies like Titanic, Revenant, Blood Diamond, Catch Me If you Can, and many more, but he is known for leveraging his fame to champion environmental causes.
In his acceptance speech at the 2016 Oscars, he made a political charge, calling on all to support efforts against climate change.
Again, he marched with 400,000 people in a call for climate action and met leaders like former president Trump and Vice President Al Gore in his quest to influence climate politics.
In 2014, he was named a messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change by the General Secretary of UN, and had the opportunity to address the UN Climate summit where he called on world leaders present to act on climate change
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Daniel Sarfo