Friday 17 January 2020

Could the Man in Black be the man in the White House?

Will Smith wants to follow other actors into politics, says Joe O'Shea

Joe O'Shea

The Oval Office has already seen the first black man elected US president; could it one day welcome its first Man in Black?

That is the dream of actor and rapper Will Smith who is, according to his wife, seriously considering a career change.

The film star's wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, says the 41-year-old Men In Black star wants a political career and is "serious" about aiming for the very top.

"Will is thinking about going into politics," she says.

"He once said he could imagine becoming a US president. He wasn't joking, he was quite serious about it."

Smith, who started his career as a rapper and star of the long-running sit-com The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, certainly has his fans at the top of US politics.

President Barack Obama said recently that if a film were to be made about his life, he would cast the Independence Day star as himself "because he has the ears".

The two have already discussed the possibility of creating a film based on the 2008 election, a project that could be a full dress rehearsal for Smith's own entry into politics, possibly in state-wide elections in his native Pennsylvania.

A Hollywood star with Oval Office ambitions might strike some as another example of our celebrity culture gone mad (and Americans confusing showbiz with politics).

But it has, of course, been done before. The cast includes:

Ronald Reagan

A B-movie star best known for quickie Westerns, such as Cowboy From Brooklyn, and starring alongside a chimp in Bedtime for Bonzo, Reagan was always more interested in politics than acting.

He became president of the Screen Actors Guild (the acting union) in the 50s and switched to the Republican Party from the Democrats in the early 60s.

Reagan was elected Governor of California twice before finally winning the White House in 1980 when he was 69 years old.

Idolised by Republicans, he has also been blamed for starting the deregulation of banking and finance that has brought us to our situation today.

Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura

A former Navy Seal turned professional wrestler, actor, politician, TV talk show host and respected political commentator, Jesse Ventura has lived enough for four lives during a slightly bonkers career.

First coming to prominence through the wildly popular World Wrestling Federation, he decided to run for governor of the state of Minnesota in 1998, as an independent.

To the shock of the US political establishment, he won. And to their even greater surprise, he proved to be a competent, articulate and very popular politician.

Ventura decided against running again after his first term and is now a regular contributor to news panel shows on US network TV.

Mayor Clint Eastwood

The Oscar-winning director and Dirty Harry star ran for office of his tiny hometown of Carmel, California, in 1986 after the local planning board thwarted his attempts to remodel an office building next door to a restaurant he owned.

The voters went ahead and made his day and shortly after taking office, Eastwood fired the planning board members who had turned down his construction proposal.

He served just one two-year term and was paid the princely sum of $400 for his entire time.

The Governator -- Arnold Schwarzenegger

Californian politics have always been a little flaky. But the crowning moment came in 2003 when sitting Governor Gray Davis was forced to defend his seat in a special recall contest against a cast of characters from a Carry On movie.

Porn star Mary Carey, political pundit Arianna Huffington and former child star Gary Coleman (of Different Strokes fame) all ran. And then came the Terminator himself, who announced his plan to run on Jay Leno's Tonight show.

The puns were endless. He was "The Running Man," participating in a "Total Recall" election, set to become "The Governator".

Yet despite last-minute allegations by a group of women of groping and sexual harassment and allegations of past drug use, Schwarzenegger won handily.

It has been downhill for Arnie and the great state of California ever since.

Congressman Sonny Bono

The "I Got You Babe" singer, better known as Cher's bell-bottom-wearing other (not, necessarily, "better") half, Sonny Bono got into politics after his plans to open a restaurant got shot down by nasty bureaucrats.

A year before his election as mayor of Palm Springs, California, in 1988, the singer registered to vote for the first time in his life. He went on to serve as a US congressman, first taking office in 1994.

Bono served two terms in the House, where he was well-liked and known for his blunt and self-deprecating humour. He was killed in 1998 after he ran into a tree while skiing.

Senator Donie Cassidy

It's not a case of "Only in America!"; Ireland can also claim to be a land of opportunity where even a humble young saxophone player could dream of one day achieving high office.

Westmeath's Daniel "Donie" Cassidy first came to prominence through the showband scene, playing hot sax with Jim Tobin And The Firehouse.

Moving from playing music to managing musicians, Donie is the man to thank for Foster & Allen, amongst other music greats.

The former TD represented the Westmeath constituency from 2002 to 2007 and is currently a senator in Seanad Eireann.

Irish Independent

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