Actor and comedian, Jimmy Morales, has always been in the spotlight, and is quite familiar with being the subject of headlines. But on Monday, the 26th, Morales made international headlines for a very ‘serious’ reason; the 46 year old became Guatemala’s president after beating former first lady Sandra Torres by a 69 to 31 percent vote.
The former comedian quit his TV show last year to run for the presidency. According to reports, people barely paid attention to him initially – 0.5 percent support back in April – but once former President Otto Perez became entangled in a messy corruption probe, Morales’ campaign got a boost that led to his overwhelming success at the polls.
In a unique case of life imitating art, Morales once played the role of a cowboy who nearly becomes president in a film – “A President in a Sombrero”. Though he has no political experience, and some eccentric policy ideas, Jimmy Morales promised to fight against the corruption that has consumed Guatemala.
Morales’ transition from comedy to politics is not unique to him alone; he joins the league of world leaders who once had peculiar jobs.
Andry Rajoelina – DJ to president
The 41 year old former president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, rose to prominence as a disc jockey, and advertising king, before gradually transiting to politics in 2007.
Rajoelina decided to go into politics after a brush with the authorities where they restricted him from installing billboards in Antananarivo, the capital city of Malagasy. Until his descent from power, Andry Rajoelina was Africa’s youngest head of state.
Johanna Sigurdardottir – Flight attendant to prime minister
Elected in 2009, Johanna Sigurdardottir made international headline as the first female prime minister of Iceland, and the world’s first openly gay head of government.
Nicknamed Saint Johanna for her humanitarian work, the former prime minister was a flight attendant for nine years at the country’s national airline, Icelandair. Interestingly, her political career started there, when she started organizing trade union, and then moved to national politics.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Club bouncer to Pope
Before he became the world’s most revered clergy, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, worked as a bouncer in a bar to help pay for his tuition. To top that, he was also a janitor, sweeping floors and cleaning houses.
Pope Francis got his calling into priesthood when he passed by a church for confession, on his way to propose to his long-time girlfriend, “Something strange happened to me in that confession. I don’t know what it was, but it changed my life.”
Michael Sata – Cleaner to president
The late Zambian president was a cleaner at the British Railway, he once told a British interviewer that he would sweep Zambia cleaner than he swept London stations.
Until his death, Sata was the fifth President of Zambia, elected in September 2011. He was also the leader of the Patriotic Front party.
Michael Sata– Waitress to chancellor
Unarguably one of the most powerful women in the world today, Germany’s Angela Merkelwas once a waitress. As a student of physics in Communist East Germany, the research scientist worked as a barmaid. “I did the barmaid thing … I got an extra 30 pfennig for each sold glass,” Merkel revealed in a biography, titled, “Merkel, Macht, Politik?” – Merkel, Power, Politics? – by German journalist Patricia Lessnerkraus.
Edi Rama – Painter to prime minister
Prior to becoming a politician, the current prime minister of Albania was famous for his paintings. The 51 year old, who was also a former basketball player, got into politics in1998, when he was asked by former Prime Minister Fatos Nano to become the Minister of Culture.
Edi Ramastudied at the School of Fine Arts in Paris, and has organized a number of personal art exhibitions. When he became mayor of the Albanian city of Tirana, he found an outlet for his artistic personality; he ordered the demolition of kiosks and illegally constructed buildings in the city, in addition to directives that communist-era grey concrete buildings should be repainted in bright pink, yellow, green and violet.
Nicknamed “the mad monk”, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, trained to become a Catholic priest in his 20’s. As a student, the 57 year old politician was also a boxer. He became a journalist for The Australian after quitting seminary school; this led to his appointment as press secretary for then Liberal and opposition leader, Dr John Hewson, after which began his steady rise in politics.
Abbott champions socially conservative policies which many believe is due to religious background. An Australian journalist once said though it’s been decades since Tony Abbott left the seminary, he still takes it with him wherever he goes.