News / USA

    President Obama Look-Alike Performs at Washington Events

    President Obama Look-Alike Performs at Washington Eventsi
    X
    April 23, 2013 8:43 PM
    In some countries, people can be put in jail for impersonating political leaders. But in places where freedom of speech is protected, you may see people mimicking politicians in public or on television. In the Washington area, a man who closely resembles President Barack Obama entertains people at conferences and other events as an Obama look-alike. VOA’s Deborah Block caught up with him at one of his performances.
    Deborah Block
    In some countries, people can be put in jail for impersonating political leaders.  But in places where freedom of speech is protected, you may see people mimicking politicians in public or on television.

    In the Washington area, Larry Graves, who closely resembles President Barack Obama, entertains people at conferences and other events as an Obama look-alike.  

    When Graves spoke at an environmental conference at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, some people weren’t sure at first if he was President Obama.  The audience smiled and laughed once they realized Graves is an Obama look-alike.
     
    “I want to thank the Environmental Information Association for having me here today.  I understand this is your 30th anniversary, so congratulations,” said Graves at the podium.

    Mike Farrell, who attended the conference, was taken aback when Graves walked into the room.

     “It’s really astonishing how close he actually is - his mannerisms, the way that he speaks, his hair, you know the whole package,” Farrell expressed.

    The whole package includes two men playing Secret Service agents protecting the Obama look-alike.  Matt Baldwin has been at Graves' side for five years.

    “People have actually come up to me and asked 'Is that really the president?'  I’ve had fun with it and I just didn’t say anything,” Baldwin said.

    Many people wanted to have their picture taken with Graves, including Eric Goeller, an environmental consultant from Arizona.

     “I sent this picture of myself and Mr. Obama [Graves, the look-alike] back home and I’ve gotten about 25 text messages regarding my meeting with the president,” said an amused Goeller.

    Environmentalist Sean Fitzgerald spoke at length with Graves about the dangers of asbestos, which is known to cause cancer.

     “I was thinking what it would be like if this was the real president,” Fitzgerald articulated.

    Graves is amazed that people approach him like that, even knowing he’s not the president.

     “I find it slightly incredulous that people come up to me with reverence, respect and awe,” Graves said.

    Graves says it took time to master Obama’s speech pattern. He uses makeup to enhance his appearance as the president by darkening his eyebrows, deepening his lip color, and adding Obama’s prominent mole.  He also colors his thinning hair and combs it forward to look like the president.  

    Besides facial similarities, Graves said he and the president have other things in common.  “We’re both the same body size.  We’re both left-handed and we both like basketball.”

    He hasn’t met President Obama but hopes to one day, and to challenge him to a pick-up basketball game. “I don’t think Obama could beat me in a game of basketball,” Graves declared.

    Graves began his career as a look-alike during President Obama’s first presidential campaign.  The role supplements his other job as a substitute gym teacher at Fields Road Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

    A group of 5th grade students didn't know their teacher plays an Obama look-alike until they watched a video of him acting like the president.  At first they thought they were watching the president, but said Graves’ voice gave him away.

    “It looked like our gym teacher but it was really hard to tell.  It just looked like Obama,” said Emily Miller.

    “It feels like I’m being taught by a famous gym teacher,” a classmate added.

    Graves is glad President Obama won a second term, not only because he admires him, but also because he can continue to entertain people as his look-alike.  

    “It’s easy for me to just roll with it, and go with whatever they’re into, and have fun with it,” expressed Graves.

    Vince Brennan, who came from Vermont to the Environmental Information Association meeting, enjoyed having Larry Graves, the Obama look-alike, stop by.

    “It’s great to have the president come down and see us,” he said.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.