NEW YORK - When New York City-based comedian, actor, and writer Lauren LoGiudice realized that she resembles First Lady Melania Trump, she decided to bring her spin on FLOTUS to the stage, the YouTube screen, and, eventually, the page.
LoGiudice, who grew up in Queens and had a stint as a model, calls herself a "character chameleon." She has built a fanbase through her standup comedy, YouTube channel, and Instagram page. She has parodied Greta Garbo, Mary Poppins, and even her Trump-loving Italian-American dad from Howard Beach.
Anyway, back to Melania.
LoGiudice's impression-slash-impersonation of the first lady garnered laughs online and IRL during the annual Pride parade. She told me that although she and Melania Trump are very different at their core, she strived to learn about the enigmatic European immigrant and third wife of the president to make her act both funny and relatable.
LoGiudice expanded upon her material to write her book Inside Melania: What I learned About Melania Trump by Impersonating Her (Eckhartz Press), which dropped earlier this year. She had to cancel her in-person book tour due to the pandemic but held virtual events instead.
In this interview, she explained why she thinks Melania is eager for this election to be over and wants America to "vote blue." Here are highlights from our interview, conducted via Zoom. (Relax. This is comedy; don't be too offended.)
LAUREN LOGIUDICE: My name is Lauren LoGiudice. I'm an actor, comedian, and character chameleon. I'm also the author of Inside Melania.
I did not choose Melania Trump for any sort of self-aggrandizing promotional reason at all. Like, I did not choose her—she kind of chose me.
I was doing a comedy set at Parx Casino and I came off the stage and I had done a joke about Melania Trump. The booker was like, "You just have to do an impression of Melania."
I saw a picture of myself during a hard time in my life and I was like, "Oh my god, I look like Melania Trump—miserable but trying."
I'm not someone who walks around in heels and makeup all day. With every character you play is that you end up finding your commonalities. I went to Pride as her carrying a sign that says, "I also cried on election night." Someone asked me to do a Halloween show doing stand-up but in character as Melania. And that went really well. "Oh my god, this is gonna be a thing, isn't it?"
Nobody knows anything about her. People don't even really know her name—I have to say "Melania... Trump."
They know nothing about where she's from. Slovenia might as well be Uzbekistan or Croatia, Ukraine. No one knows where she's from or what it is! They just think it's like a bunch of donkeys running around. People just kind of know she's a model and they have lots of questions about why she's married to Donald.
There's a danger in making her the victim. People love to say, "Poor Melania" or "Melania in a tower" and I was not going to play her like that. She's never the victim.
Looking at her background, I found, yeah, I do have a lot in common with her. We both really wanted to get out of where we were. I grew up in a very conservative Italian Catholic neighborhood in Queens, New York. All I wanted was to get out and to be around people who were more into arts and culture. And she also really wanted to get out as well and to move on to bigger and Broader things.
I did have a stint as a model—more just kind of to get into entertainment—but I was in Italy modeling. She went to Milan to model. So I know what that's like to be a foreigner in Italy trying to work in the modeling industry. It is really hard.
I got to know her a lot and, in fact, that is like part of what made the book. When you start to put yourself really into the shoes of a character, you uncover some really important things about her and, actually, a lot of what I uncovered about Melania came true—in the tapes and other things that we've discovered about her along the way.
People ask me a lot, "What are you going to do if he loses? Are you sad? Do you hope he wins just so you can continue?" No! I can't wait! I want to hang up my stilettos on November 3rd. Please help me.
If he loses, we're going to do the Melania Trump Apology Tour. If he wins... umm. Then it will be a tool to help continue to bring laughter and sanity in very dark times.
What has been really fun is seeing the broad range of people who respond to the material. Anyone who's a performer—you're going to get crap from everyone, right? So people tell me, "You make her too nice because you're making her a human?" That's what I do. And then I get crap like, "Oh, you're being unfair—you're crossing the line."
Most people tell me, "I feel good after watching what you do." And that's the point—to bring some levity to it. There is a subtext, and you either get it or you don't. And if you're not looking for the subtext, you might not get it. So that's why sometimes there are people who are pro-Trump who do appreciate what I do.
The fact that I create comedy that attempts to open the hearts of minds of people through laughter isn't going to change. The characters I'm using to do that might change. So if it's not Melania, it'll be someone else. ###
Connect with Lauren at www.laurenlogi.com.