Perhaps the most inspiring figure the whole world came to notice this 2022 is Time Person of the Year and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The magazine selects candidates for this honor based on their influence on global events during the preceding year.

Everyone feared for Ukraine and millions prayed for their safety. After all, nobody else stood up to the Russian leader Vladimir Putin the way Zelensky did (and is still relentlessly doing). But what else makes this man the admirable president that he is? Find out interesting facts about Zelensky here.

He taunted Russia almost 2 weeks into the Ukraine invasion

Putin is a force to be reckoned with, but Zelensky isn’t phased by it. So much so, that he even taunted the Russian President by sharing a video 12 days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Most major article websites describe Zelensky’s video as a “defiant” act. He shared a video of himself declaring his location by stating “I stay in Kyiv. On Bankova Street. I’m not hiding. I’m not afraid of anyone.” He also acknowledged his people’s pleas as well as thanked the Ukrainian military for their efforts. He ended the video with “Glory to Ukraine!”

He was an actor who played the role of Ukrainian President

This charming President has a good and surprising reason for his camera-friendly appearance— Zelensky was an actor! He starred in a popular TV show called Servant of the People. Zelensky played the role of a school teacher who eventually became President of Ukraine after he went viral for his tirade of rants against the government. His acting was so convincing that he was encouraged to run for the real spot for the presidency. Like the show’s namesake, “Servant of the People” was eventually registered as a party list; this party has populist and left-wing ideologies.

Zelensky can dance!

That’s right. During his stint as an entertainer, Zelensky competed in Dancing with the Stars back in 2006 with his dance partner Olena Shoptenko. He and Olena rocked the dance floor with their different styles of dance— they even danced together blindfolded in one episode. The Ukrainian leader showed off his excellent footwork episode after episode, he eventually won first place.

He won the presidential election by a landslide

Zelensky was already loved as an entertainer, but his presidential win shows how much he’s also respected and relied on as (at that time) their future leader. The majority of the voters at the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election were in favor of Zelensky, with 70% of those voters choosing him as their president.

Zelensky is Jewish

Zelensky was born to Jewish parents. He describes his childhood to have had an “ordinary soviet Jewish upbringing.” Sadly, as with many Jews, he also lost many family members during the Holocaust. He rarely talks about his Jewish upbringing and customs as he believes it’s just a small part of his identity. Hence, why he is also well-respected by Jews— Ukrainian or not.

To sum it up…

It is hardly surprising that Zelensky was named Time Person of the Year. Zelensky’s “I will never let you down” statement after he won the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections is a commendable one as he’s still keeping his promise to his people during their trying times. Besides the interesting and inspiring facts about Zelensky, we can also learn a thing or two about this President’s tenacity, courage, and loyalty.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.