Being told you look like someone else can often be annoying. For Xiao Jiguo, however, it is extremely lucrative. The 29-year-old impersonator charges $1,500 per show just for looking like president Barack Obama. Who knew looking like someone else could be your livelihood?
A native of Sichuan, China, Jiguo has been at his Obama schtick for several years now. Jiguo was working as a security guard when his resemblance to Obama was first suggested by a colleague after the 2008 elections.
He explained the specifics to NBC News, saying, “One day I cut my hair due to the hot weather and one of my colleagues who followed all the Obama stories at the time said to me, ‘You look like Obama so much!’ I didn’t even know who Obama was at the time!”
Other colleagues then began calling him Obama, and from there, the wheels of fame were in motion.
He first gained notoriety when, in 2012, he appeared on China’s popular talent show Chinese Dream Show. His appearance helped him to gain a steady online following, and he began getting requests to do other performances.
These days, his talents are often called upon for corporate parties, private functions, and company openings. Jiguo charges his extravagant price for performances only around ten minutes in length. It is also said that despite his uncanny physical resemblance to Obama, Jiguo doesn’t share much else with the president. Especially Obama’s talent for giving speeches.
Jiguo is the first to admit this, saying, “I don’t speak English very well so I speak in fake English. It sounds like English to those who don’t speak English, but it’s not English … even I don’t know don’t know what I was saying!”
Now that Jiguo has attained some level of financial success, he hopes to develop his talents and pursue his dream of acting. He has already made some strides toward that goal and was recently cast to play the part of a gangster in the upcoming Chinese comedy Funny Fellows. He says that his Obama impersonation is often used for comedic effect in the film.
Jiguo, obviously grateful for the success he’s had, expresses nothing but gratitude toward the U.S. president, saying, “If one day I could have the chance to meet President Obama, I would say thanks so much to him. I think there is some bond between us as we share the same blood type and our birthdays are close.”
Though some don’t even think Jiguo’s resemblance to Obama is very striking, his profile only continues to rise. And while his talent for actually impersonating the president may be dubious, he at least seems to try to do so with passion and integrity.