President Zelensky: From Actor to Face of Ukraine’s Freedom


Tori Park

The impacts of the war are felt far beyond Ukraine.

Simon Ready-Miller, Contributing Writer

“The fight is here [in Ukraine]; I need ammunition, not a ride,” President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky told the US, according to the embassy. This is the kind of phrase one might expect from a movie or a Call of Duty cutscene, but instead it is from a president choosing to stay in a targeted zone.

Zelensky began his journey into the public eye as a satirical actor. After graduating from Kyiv National Economic University with a law degree, Zelensky formed a performers group called Kvartal 95 in 1997. In the early 2000s, the group began producing its own entertainment. By the 2010s, Zelensky had starred in a few films, and provided the voice of Paddington Bear in the Ukrainian dub of the recent movies.

Most notably, Zelensky went viral for his criticisms of governmental corruption during the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, a part of Ukraine. According to The Guardian, in a monologue on Kvartal-produced show Servant of The People, Zelensky plays a “schlubby teacher [that] unleashes a sweary rant about the state of Ukrainian politics at a colleague while, unbeknownst to him, a student secretly records it and puts it on YouTube. Millions watch.”

We are all here, our military is here, our citizens are here, we are all here defending our independence.

As the show progressed in popularity, Ukraine’s real president faced vast unpopularity as its economy stalled. By Servant of The People’s third season, Zelensky announced his bid for president, adopting a similar agenda to the character he played, while intertwining the show’s promotion with his own presidential campaign. He won in a landslide and, according to the BBC, won 73% of the vote, promising to fight corruption and resolve the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

After winning the presidency, Zelensky’s party won Ukraine’s Parliamentary elections. Later that year, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that he would recognize the independence of the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and dispatch “peacekeepers” (meaning the Russian military) to both regions. Shortly afterward, Russian missiles began to attack key Ukrainian installations as troops advanced into the country. The Ukrainian resistance has been fierce as the Russian advance has been stalled. President Zelensky posted several videos to his social media showing he remained in Kyiv with the message stating, “We are all here, our military is here, our citizens are here, we are all here defending our independence.”

Zelensky has certainly made an impression on the world’s headlines and social media feeds in recent times. Several Rindge students were asked for their thoughts on him. Luis Vasquez ’25 told the Register Forum that “I think Zelensky is showing what a real leader should be.” Zack Ready Miller ’22 also praised Zelensky, saying, “I think he’s very brave, he is in a very difficult situation that no one wants to be in.”

This piece also appears in our March 2022 print edition.