Hollywood actor and Trump supporter Antonio Sabato Jr. will be running for Congress against Rep. Julia Brownley in California’s 26th District.
The actor appeared in many television series and films throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and has decided to foray into politics, saying that many Hollywood directors and producers have blacklisted him since he endorsed President Trump.
Read on to learn about Sabato Jr. and his run for Congress.
1. He Spoke on Behalf of Trump During the 2016 Presidential Campaign
In 2016, Sabato endorsed Donald Trump for president.
In a live interview with MSNBC in May 2016, the actor was asked how early he decided to support Trump and what it was that drew him to the candidate. Sabato said, “Well, I knew from day one, and I’ve been supporting him for a very long time… he’s been saying the right things, he’s been saying a lot of things people want to say but can’t say. It makes a lot of sense.” During the RNC, he referred to Trump as the “unity” candidate, who would secure America’s borders and protect its citizens.
In a July interview with Variety, Sabato said, “The Democratic Party has been demolished in the last 7.5 years. I trust that Mr. Trump will say the right things. His honesty is refreshing, especially in politics. He’s got the strength to put this country back together, economically, militarily and on the border. I agree with a lot of things he’s saying.”
2. He Has Said He ‘Absolutely’ Believes Former President Barack Obama Is a Muslim
After his speech at the 2016 Republic National Convention, Sabato told ABC News that he “absolutely” believes Barack Obama is a Muslim. Speaking about the former president’s religion, Sabato said, “First of all, I don’t believe that the guy is a Christian I don’t believe he follows the God that I love and the Jesus that I love… If you follow his story, if you read his book, if you understand about Obama — I mean, that’s not a Christian name, is it?” Sabato then continued, “I believe that he’s on the other side — the Middle East. He’s with the bad guys… He’s with them. He’s not with us. He’s not with this country.”
Asked point-blank if he believes Obama is a Muslim, he said, “Absolutely… That’s what I believe. And you know what? I have the right to believe that. And you have the right to go against that, but I believe it. He grew up in that world. That’s where he comes from. That’s where he grew up.”
Sabato began the interview with ABC saying that he “actually liked this guy [Obama]” but didn’t vote for him in either 2008 or 2012 because of his agenda. At another point in his interview, he said, “I’ve met a lot of Christians. I know Christians… I am one, and I don’t believe he is.”
3. He’s Known for His Work in ‘General Hospital’ and as an Underwear Model for Calvin Klein
Sabato rose to fame as a Calvin Klein underwear model. His next big gig came in the form of a recurring roles on General Hospital and Melrose Place. Since then, he’s acted in a number of films and television series, like Testosterone, starring Sonia David Sutcliffe, Jennifer Coolidge, and Celina Font, and The League, in which he played Zaragosa.
Sabato has also dabbled in reality television. In 2005, he was part of the reality singing competition But Can They Sing?, and in 2009, he starred in My Antonio, a reality dating show in which women competed for the chance to become his girlfriend. In 2012, Sabato agreed to be part of ABC’s Celebrity Wife Swap and in 2014, he gave Dancing With the Stars a shot, and came in 8th place.
The actor was born and raised in Rome, Italy, and moved to the US when he was 13. He attended Beverly Hills High School, and had a big break in Janet Jackson’s famous music video for “Love Will Never Do Without You.” The role led to his being cast on ABC’s General Hospital, and in 1992, Sabato was named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.”
4. He Will Be Running Against Rep. Julia Brownley in California’s 26th District
Sabato will be running for Congress against Rep. Julia Brownley. Strategist Jeff Corless will serve as his top adviser, according to the Los Angeles Times.
GOP strategist Charles Moran tells the outlet that the actor has “has long been interested in politics and public policy, but his experiences at the convention prompted him to consider running for office.” He intends to focus on veterans’ needs and substance abuse according to the the GOP strategist.
Antonio first shared that he may be interested in running for Congress back in March during an interview on OANN’s “The Daily Ledger Show.” On the show, Antonio said, “I’m seriously thinking– really thinking– about running for Congress, and I’m gonna work really hard. And if I do run, I’m gonna win, and that’s just my point of view and how I’m gonna fight back.”
5. He Says “Hollywood Doesn’t Want to Hire [Him] Anymore”
Since vocalizing his support for President Trump and speaking at the Republican National Convention, Sabato has claimed he’s been “endlessly bullied”. In August, the actor told Variety, “On Twitter, there’s been name calling, and celebrities attacking me. That’s fine. I see it, but I don’t read it… I’ve had fantastic directors who have said officially to my agents and managers they will never hire me again. They will never even see me for projects. That’s unfair. It’s just like Communism.” He later continued, “I’m just a normal dude speaking my mind. So be it. I will keep fighting for what I believe, and I will keep looking for work.”
Despite the backlash, Sabato said he wasn’t going to leave Hollywood, and would continue to pursue his career one way or another.
The actor has been married to television presenter and beauty pageant winner Cheryl Moana Marie since 2012. Together, the couple has a son named Antonio Harvey Sabato III. His other son, Jack, is from his relationship with actress Virginia Madsen, and his daughter, Mina Bree, is from his relationship with girlfriend Kristien Rossetti. For one year, from 1992 to 1993, Sabato was married to Alicia Tully Jensen.