Xiao Jiguo gained national attention in China for his impersonation of President Barack Obama back in 2012. Now he is receiving international fame since Chinese President Xi Jinping is in America to meet the president.
“Everyone wants a picture!” Xiao said as he described his experiences to the Wall Street Journal.
Xiao told the publication his services are in high demand at “charity events and birthday parties.” He travels around the country to attend these events, including “christening new Chinese businesses” as Obama.
He dresses in a plain white button-down shirt with no jacket. He mocks Obama’s tone and looks at the audience with the same “stern gaze of the President.” However, he improvises his English because he does not know the language.
“My English is bad so when I go on stage it’s half real and half fake and making it up on the fly,” he said.
In 2008, his co-worker said he resembled the president. With a bit of makeup and “brow fluffing,” he achieved the Obama look.
“It’s very rare for a Chinese person to look like a Westerner,” said Xiao.
Xiao said he has not met anyone who attempts to impersonate the Chinese president. The majority decide to mimic Mao Zedong instead, “along with Michael Jacksons and Taiwanese pop stars.”
The Chinese film industry noticed Xiao’s uncanny resemblance to Obama. The director of Huo Bao, which translates to Funny Fellows, casted him in the detective comedy.
“My character is not the real Obama, but a low-level gangster,” he explains. “So when my boss tells me to beat people up, I’d do it.”
Wang Xijin, the producer, screenwriter, and actor for the film, hopes he leaves “a deep impression on the audience.”
“In this movie, he acts as one of the low-level gangsters, but his character strongly stands out because of his looks,” described Wang. “Also, this is a comedy. Everybody knows in America, Obama is a boss and enjoys all the glory that comes with it. But in this movie he’s not doing so well.”