Volodymyr Zelenskyy: How a sitcom star became a unifying leader

The former actor won a surprising landslide presidential victory in 2019 and has been catapulted onto the world stage as he leads Ukraine through a full-scale invasion by Russian forces

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become a living symbol of Ukrainian resistance to Vladimir Putin’s invasion. lllustration: Peter Hanan

In the first season of Servant of the People, a sitcom about a man who finds himself ending up as president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy stuffs walnuts into his mouth during an elocution lesson to practice addressing the nation.

Playing the character of Vasily Petrovich Goloborodko, a straight-talking and kind-hearted history teacher, Zelenskyy is being taught how to say the phrase “Dear fellow Ukrainians” clearly and without hesitation, taking his “showtime” cue off an instructor.