A career switch, especially for popular celebrities, is not unheard of. Not just here in the U.S., celebrities across the world have lent their faces to other businesses to advance their opportunities of income – from opening restaurant chains and fashion lines to writing magazine columns. Success has not eluded them either.
Whether it is Victoria Beckham’s entry into the fashion industry, George Clooney owning a tequila company, Jessica Alba’s all-natural baby product line, or LeBron James’ sports marketing agency, celebrities have added many feathers to their caps.
Politics and the world of Government Administration has been another popular choice for a few celebrities. The commonalities are quite clear. Whether one is in the movies/TV or the Congress, he/she is a public figure. Their lives are constantly under media scrutiny, the lines between their personal and professional lines are blurred and they are answerable for almost every choice they make.
Film and TV celebrities get used to this lifestyle long before they are well-established A-listers; so, the switch to another public domain sounds easy. However, what has been observed time and time again is that celebrities who have switched over to politics have rarely succeeded in making their mark, with the exception of a few of course. Having won the hearts of the masses already, politics should have been a cakewalk for them, right?
Take Donald Trump for example. He was all over television with his popular show ‘The Apprentice’ with his equally famous catchphrase “You’re fired.” Today, he is THE President of the U.S. Ronal Reagan has also charted the same path before Trump, from movie theatres to the White House. But there aren’t too many celebrities who have been able to leverage their popularity into trust in their capability as public office bearers.
Politicians spend years of their initial stages trying to make themselves recognizable to the public. Celebrities enter the stage with that advantage in their pockets and yet many of them fail to convert that to winning votes. What goes wrong then?
Here we take a look at some celebrities who jumped the boat with much fanfare but soon fizzled out of the game:
1. Katie Price-
“I know it will take a big swing but there’s no bigger swinger than me,” said Price in 2001. A famous English model and TV personality, who was often in the limelight for her controversial opinions on just about everything, Price took her first step into politics as an independent candidate in the Manchester seat of Stretford and Urmston in 2001. She promised nudist beaches and free plastic surgery as her candies to the public, but it did not win her many votes. And that was pretty much the end of her stint with politics.
2. Al Murray-
Source: The National
“It seems to me that the UK is ready for a bloke waving a pint around, offering commonsense solutions,” said Murray before embarking on his political career in 2015. Murray’s scathing political satires brought many laughs to the British audience and he was quite a popular comedian, with his own chat show, Al Murray’s Happy Hour, when he decided to run in the 2015 election in the South Thanet constituency. However, he won only 318 votes.
3. Wyclef Jean-
Source: Voice of America
The Haitian rapper/singer/producer won three Grammys as part of the hip-hop group The Fugees and went on to have a successful solo career. In 2010, he decided to run for the Haitian presidential election but was disqualified as he was not a permanent resident of the country.
4. Shirley Temple
Source: The Guardian
She was the first child star to be honored with a miniature Juvenile Oscar for her film accomplishments in 1935. Although she couldn’t win enough votes to give her a seat in Congress, she has served as the US ambassador to Ghana in 1974 and Czechoslovakia in 1989.
5. Kinky Friedman
In 2006, the American singer-songwriter and novelist Richard Samet “Kinky” Friedman ran for the Governor of Texas as an independent candidate but came fourth in the 6-person race, winning only 12.6% of the votes. “How hard can it be?” was his slogan during the race. Turns out, quite hard!
6. John Hall
He was a founding member of the band Orleans with hits such as “Still the One” and “Dance with Me” under his belt. His genuine concern about the environment led him into politics and he held a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives between 2007 and 2011. However, he lost the re-election and went on to release a book on his life and career, entitled “Still The One – A Rock ‘n’ Roll Journey to Congress and Back”
7. Cynthia Nixon
Source: HERS Magazine
The former Sex and the City star who won the 2004 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series campaigned for Governor of New York as a challenger to Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo in 2018. She advocated for LGBT rights in America but lost with 34% to Cuomo’s 66%. If she would have won, she would have been the first openly gay person to hold the position.
There are Exceptions however..
The list is quite endless and can incorporate celebrities from varied fields. However, it is wrong to assume that all celebrities who entered politics inevitably failed. Arnold Schwarzenegger, famous as The Terminator, has successfully served as the Governor of California from 2003 until 2011.
Sean Duffy, an ESPN commentator for televised competitions who also appeared on The Real World: Boston, the sixth season of the MTV reality television show in 1997, and on Road Rules: All Stars in 1998, served as the District Attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin for eight years before running for the US House of Representatives in 2010. He currently holds the position.
Several celebrities have switched to a political career either to help bring change in society or to advance their own careers but it seems that the two worlds are vastly different and success in one cannot guarantee success in the other.