From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Fiction comes true

Not too long ago, Volodymyr Zelenskiy cracked jokes on screen in the popular Ukrainian TV show "Servant of the People," in which he plays a history teacher who becomes president of Ukraine. For Zelenskiy, the story has become reality — the actor won the country's presidential election in April. He isn't the only screen actor enter the political scene.

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Terminator to governator

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a bodybuilder and actor before he became governor of California (2003-2011). He is hands down one of the best-known celebrities to make that radical change in career. Initially a tough Republican, he later tightened weapons laws and raised minimum wage. He is still active in environmental protection.

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Wrestling to politics

Jesse Ventura — above in the 1987 film "Predator" — was an actor and a professional wrestler before he served first as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and then as the state's governor for a term. He returned to the screen from 2009 to 2012 as host of the US TV series "Conspiracy Theory."

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

'Let's make America great again'

Acting gave Ronald Reagan a taste of politics long before he became governor of California and the 40th US president in 1981. Beginning in 1941, he was active in the union at Warner Bros. film company and later became president of the Screen Actors Guild. Decades later, President Donald Trump picked up Reagan's successful 1980 election campaign slogan, "Let's make America great again."

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Brief Intermezzo

Clint Eastwood's political career also started in California, where the actor and director served as mayor of his hometown, Carmel, from 1986-88. But the fast-paced film industry drew him back. However he kept his political voice present, and many years later, the legendary film star spoke at the 2016 Republican party convention, endorsing the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Family legacy

With a politician father and grandfather who were interior minister and mayor of Athens respectively, the Greek actress and chanson singer Melina Mercouri seemed destined to enter politics, too. She became a lawmaker and later served twice as Greece's culture minister.

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Back in Berlin

In 1973 the military coup in Chile forced writer Antonio Skarmeta to flee via Argentina to Berlin. His writing focused on life in exile and being a stranger in a foreign country. Skarmeta returned to his native country 16 years later, only to live in the German capital again from 2000 to 2003, this time as Chilean Ambassador.

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Actress and MP

British actress Glenda Jackson won two Oscars for Best Actress, including for the 1969 film "Women in Love" (above). In 1992 she headed into politics for the Labour Party and served for four legislature periods in the House of Commons. She was one of Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair's most outspoken critics during the Iraq War. Jackson finally retired from politics at age 79.

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

Bollywood to parliament

Vinod Khanna was one of the most successful actors in India in the 1970s. Yet he retired from the film business at the height of his career, spending a few years at the ashram of a mystical guru named Osho Rajneesh in the US before winning a seat in the Indian Parliament. Later he served as tourism and culture minister and as state minister in the foreign ministry. Khanna died in 2017.

From stage to public office: 10 celebrities who became politicians

A singing president

Michel Martelly was president of Haiti from 2011 to 2016 and tasked with rebuilding the country after a devastating 2010 earthquake. Before that he was a popular singer who performed under the stage name "Sweet Micky" singing Kompa, a form of Haitian folk music.

Some were comedians or actors, others were writers or singers — before they entered politics. Ukraine's new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is the most recent addition to a list of celebrities who became politicians.