The 41 year old comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has won Ukraine’s presidential election by a landslide. Zelensky trounced the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, winning 73 percent of the vote and surging to victory. Poroschenko won just 24 percent of the vote. Zelensky will be Ukraine’s first Jewish president when he takes office.
Zelensky owns his own production company, Kvartal 95, and is a millionaire. But he is probably best known for starring in a parody series called “Servant of the People.” In that show, he plays a man who becomes president of Ukraine by mistake.
Zelensky is married to Olena Zelenska. Here’s what you need to know about Olena Zelenska:
1. Olena & Volodymyr Are From the Same Home Town & Went to School Together
Volodymyr Zelenska and Olena Kiyashko were both born in Kryvyi Rih, a city in southern Ukraine. They attended the same school but didn’t know each other as children. Much later, when they were both in university, they met and started dating. Olena studied Civil Engineering at Kryvyi Rih National University, while Volodymyr Zelensky studied law at the Kryvyi Rih Economic Institute.
2. Olena Is a Writer for Her Husband’s Production Company
Olena Zelenska studied architecture at Kryvyi Rih National University. But she works as a writer with Kvartal 95 Studio, the production company that her husband owns. Zelenska owns two apartments: one in occupied Crimea and the other in Kiev. She owns Swiss watches and high-end jewelry from the British company Graff, along with a Mercedes-Benz S 500 2014.
3. Olena & Volodymyr Have Two Children
Olena and Volodymyr have two children. Their daughter, Alexandra Zelenskaya, was born in 2004. In 2014, she appeared in the movie “8 New Dating,” portraying Sasha, the daughter of the movie’s main character. Two years later, she appeared in the TV game show “Laughing Comedian: Children” and won 50,000 hryvnia.
Olena and Volodymyr also have a son, Cyril Zelensky, who was born in 2013.
4. She Was Against Having Her Husband Run for President at First
Olena says that when she first learned that her husband was planing to run for president, she was very much against the idea. She said she spent a long time struggling against the idea but that she finally calmed down and resolved to be supportive. She told Ukrainian media:
“I was aggressively against the start of this project. Perhaps, they were trying to take care of me, and their earliest plans… they did not hide them but didn’t give me the full information. And when I was told that it would happen, I was already prepared to have little changes in my and family life. I can spoil the mood, do not support, put obstacles, but it’s not constructive… I try to keep myself, calm down. So far, it seems that I can do it.”
5. She Is Known for Being Quiet & Staying Out of the Limelight
Relatively little is known about Olena Zelanska. She has a reputation for staying “in her husband’s shadow,” as one Ukrainian publication said. She rarely gives interviews or appears at campaign events. She has said that even if she becomes the First Lady, she will remain in a supportive role, staying on the sidelines rather than trying to draw attention to herself.
Olena has said that her husband does not consult with her when it comes to politics. Instead, she says, he uses her as a sounding board to bounce ideas off of. She says that one of the few pieces of advice she gave her husband was to avoid talking to journalists whenever possible.