Man known as the Chinese Obama may need a new career
As U.S. President Obama finishes his last year in office, a man in China, known as the "Chinese Obama," may need to look for a new career too.
Xiao Jiguo grew up in a village in the province of Sichuan, China. He then went to the big city to look for work. He took on manual labor such as cleaning and waiting on tables, and also worked as a security guard for a shoe factory. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected the U.S. President. A friend at work told Xiao that he looked like Obama. This was the first time he realized the resemblance. He started collecting information about Obama and mimicking him for fun.
He became a hit in 2012 when he appeared in a talent search reality show as an Obama impersonator. Thanks to his dark complexion and facial features, he has found success for the past few years along with the rise of the American President. He has also studied hundreds of videos to pick up gestures and body language from the real Obama. People who first see him are usually stunned, thinking perhaps the real American president has shown up, until they hear him speak Chinese.
Coincidentally, his birthday is only one day away from the real Obama, and the 29-year-old Xiao Jiguo claims that they both have the same blood type. He is a lot shorter, however, at 5 feet 6 inches. He is very slim, just like the real Obama, and he has picked up Obama's signature look with furrowed eyebrows and narrowing eyes.
He revealed a secret about what he's really doing when he speaks as "Obama." He said, "My English is really lousy. When I speak on stage, I'll mix up some real English words with fake English words that I've created. No one can really understand my English."
He demonstrated it in this video: (Skip to time code 01:44)
Audiences apparently love him, as he has taken on more and more gigs to appear as President Obama's look-alike. One of those jobs is for a plastic surgery clinic, but Xiao said his own looks are natural born. Other jobs have included support roles in web dramas and small-budget films. In a recent detective comedy drama, all the actors simply called him "Obama" and wanted to take selfies with him.
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By this time, you might think of him as a laughingstock, and some Chinese netizens have cracked jokes about him. However, to his parents, who still live at the their village home, Xiao Jiguo has been a diligent and filial son who gave up academic study to help support the family.
Due to poverty, Xiao's parents took on work far away from home, leaving their 3 young sons to be cared for by their grandfather for over 10 years. The grandfather was a military veteran who disciplined the boys well. Xiao Jiguo grew up a polite and friendly kid. As the oldest son, he understood about their poor living circumstances early on and took on work to earn extra money. Even though he was a good student, he couldn't finish his junior high education because the family was simply too impoverished to afford the tuition and fees. At the age of 16, Xiao Jiguo left the village and became a migrant worker.
Now that he has "made it," he can afford to go home to visit his parents frequently, instead of just once a year. During his visits, he helps his father with farm work and even helps other villagers repair their homes. The villagers talk about him with a sense of pride.
Since his popularity rose along with President Obama, who is now in the last year of his presidency, is Xiao Jiguo worried about his career? What is he planning to do?
Xiao Jiguo wants to continue with his acting career. He has already taken on acting jobs in support roles unrelated to impersonating Obama. In one fantasy film, he plays a Tang-dynasty monk who journeyed to India. In April, he will start filming in a fantasy thriller movie called Bone China (name translated directly from the Chinese title). He may pursue a career in singing too as he has always wanted to become a singer.
Maybe Xiao Jiguo will finally visit the United States, the country whose President has helped change his life? Meanwhile, his parents simply want him to get married.
(photo/image credit as tagged or referenced)