Melania Trump

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Melania Trump
Official portrait, April 2017
First Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byMichelle Obama
Succeeded byJill Biden
Personal details
Born
Melanija Knavs

(1970-04-26) April 26, 1970 (age 53)
Novo Mesto, Slovenia
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Donald Trump (m. 2005)
ChildrenBarron Trump
Parents
  • Amalija Knavs
  • Viktor Knavs
RelativesTrump family
ResidenceMar-a-Lago
EducationUniversity of Ljubljana
(no degree)
Profession
  • socialite
  • model
  • businesswoman
Signature
Website

Melania Trump's Farewell Address from the White House
Recorded January 18, 2021

Melanija Knavs Trump (born April 26, 1970)[1][2] is a Slovenian-American socialite, model and businesswoman. She was also the first lady of the United States from 2017 to 2021 as the wife of 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump.[3][4]

She grew up in Slovenia (then Yugoslavia). She worked as a fashion model through agencies in the European fashion capitals of Milan and Paris. After that, she moved to New York City in 1996. She was associated with Irene Marie Models and Trump Model Management.[5]

In 2005, she married the real estate developer and TV personality Donald Trump. She gave birth to their son Barron in March 2006. Later that year, she became a naturalized American citizen.[6] She is the second immigrant woman after former Louisa Adams and the first non-native English speaker to become first lady.[7]

Biography[change | change source]

Early life and education[change | change source]

Melanija Knavs was born in Novo Mesto, Slovenia on April 26, 1970. Her father, Viktor Knavs was from the nearby town of Radeče. He managed car and motorcycle dealerships for a state-owned vehicle manufacturer. Her mother Amalija Ulčnik Knavs, came from the village of Raka. She worked as a patternmaker at the children's clothing manufacturer Jutranjka in Sevnica.

As a child, Knavs and other children of workers at the factory participated in fashion shows that featured children's clothing. She has an older sister, Ines Knauss, who is an artist. She has an older half-brother who she reportedly has never met from her father's previous relationship.

When Knavs was a teenager, she moved with her family to a two-story house in Sevnica. As a high-school student, she lived in a high-rise apartment in Ljubljana. She attended the Secondary School of Design and Photography in the city. She studied architecture and design at the University of Ljubljana for one year before she dropped out.

Career[change | change source]

Trump at QVC Red Carpet Style Party, 2011

Knavs had started doing commercial modeling work at sixteen when she posed for the Slovenian fashion photographer Stane Jerko in 1987.[8] Knavs won a modeling contest with the Italian studio Cinecittà that entitled her to a movie role, but she rejected the prize after she was sexually involved by a producer.[9]

As her modeling career progressed, Knavs took on an alternate spelling of her name, Melania Knauss, and she traveled Europe to find modeling work.[10][11] With the exception of a few close relatives, she did not maintain contact with anyone she knew in Slovenia. In 1992, Knauss was named runner-up in the Jana Magazine "Look of the Year" contest, which promised its top three contestants an international modeling contract.[12][10][13] She signed with RVR Reclame in Milan, but she left the organization a few months later.

Around age 23 or 24, her career was successful enough that she could make Paris her primary residence, where she lived with her roommate Victoria Silvstedt.[14] Knauss modeled for fashion houses in Paris and Milan, where in 1995 she met Metropolitan Models co-owner Paolo Zampolli.[15]

Relocating to New York[change | change source]

Zampolli urged Knauss to travel to the United States, where he said he would like to represent her.[16] In 1996, Knauss moved to Manhattan.[16][13] Zampolli encouraged Knauss to live near and socialize with people in the fashion industry,[17] and he arranged for her to share an apartment with photographer Matthew Atanian in Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square.[18][16]

Knauss was featured in a sexually explicit photo shoot for a 1997 issue of Max, a French men's magazine with another female model. The photos were shot by the photographer Alexandre Ale de Basseville, and the work was unpaid, instead promising Knauss exposure in a prominent magazine. The photos were largely forgotten until they were published by the New York Post in 2016.[19]

For her first weeks in the United States, her travel visa did not allow her to work in the country. Despite this, she accepted ten modeling jobs that earned her approximately $20,000. She then received an H-1B visa that allowed her to work.[17][20] She received her first major gig when she posed for a Camel cigarette ad shot by Ellen von Unwerth, which was displayed as a Times Square billboard and ran in Rolling Stone.

Business ventures[change | change source]

In 2010, Trump launched her own line of jewelry, Melania Timepieces and Jewelry, for sale on QVC.[21] She also marketed a Melania Marks Skin Care Collection at high-end department stores.[22][23] In 2017, the two manufacturers of her jewelry and skincare products under license said they had terminated their relationship with her.[23]

Marriage and family[change | change source]

In September 1998, Knavs met real estate mogul Donald Trump at a party. The couple began dating while the latter was in the process of divorcing his second wife, Marla Maples. The divorce was finalized in 1999. In 1999, the couple gained attention after a lewd interview with shock jock Howard Stern on his show.

The two became engaged in 2004. On January 22, 2005, they married in an Anglican service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. There was a reception in the ballroom at her husband's Mar-a-Lago estate.[24]

On March 20, 2006, Trump gave birth to their son, Barron William Trump. She chose his middle name and her husband chose his first name. She also has four stepchildren, stepsons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump and stepdaughters Ivanka Trump and Tiffany Trump.

2016 United States presidential election[change | change source]

Trump gives a thumbs up while speaking at a campaign event in 2015.

In 2016, Trump told CNN her focus as first lady would be to help women and children. She also said she would combat cyberbullying, especially among children.[25]

On July 18, 2016, Trump gave a speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Trump was later accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.[26][27][28]

First Lady, 2017–2021[change | change source]

Trump alongside her husband as he takes the presidential oath of office.

Trump became the first lady of the United States when her husband inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017.[29]As first lady, Trump focused on spending time meeting with children all over the world while in classrooms, hospitals, care facilities, at home in the White House, and in communities worldwide.

She met with leaders in technology and social media companies to raise awareness of resources available to protect children. She traveled to military bases domestically and overseas, including Iraq in 2018.

Trump also worked with Second Lady Karen Pence in expanding the American Red Cross Comfort Kit program to include deployed United States troops who are stationed away from home during the holidays.

In the summer of 2020, Trump honored the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the women’s suffrage movement. She hosted a children’s art competition that showed drawings of people, objects, and events that hold a significant meaning to the women’s suffrage movement.

Trump also sent care packages and donated lunches to hospitals, local law enforcement officers, foster care facilities, and others who fought the COVID-19 disease.[30]

Be Best campaign[change | change source]

Trump officially launching her Be Best Initiative.

In May 2018, Trump formally started the Be Best public awareness campaign. It focused on issues such as, social and emotional health of children, online safety, and fighting opioid abuse and cyberbullying.

In October 2018, Trump took a solo international trip to Africa, visiting Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Egypt, hospitals, schools, and USAID programs benefiting children. She went on international trips with the president and met with more than 30 foreign diplomats, heads of state, and their spouses to share solutions to issues impacting children around the world.[31]

Personal life[change | change source]

Melania Trump with Pope Francis, the Vatican, May 2017

Religion[change | change source]

When Trump and her husband visited Vatican City in May 2017, she identified as Catholic. She was the first Catholic to live in the White House since John F. Kennedy an was the second Catholic first lady after Jacqueline Kennedy.[32][33]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Melania Trump". WHHA (en-US). Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  2. "Melania Trump - Age, Life & Facts". Biography. 2021-04-14. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  3. "Melania Trump". The White House. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  4. "Melania Trump – The White House". trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  5. "Melania Trump - Age, Life & Facts". Biography. 2021-04-14. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  6. "Melania Trump – The White House". trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  7. "Melania Trump". WHHA (en-US). Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  8. Jordan 2020, pp. 57–60.
  9. Jordan 2020, pp. 61–63.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Caroli 2019, p. 338.
  11. Jordan 2020, p. 63.
  12. Cite error: The named reference CollinsModel was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ioffe, Julia (April 27, 2016). "Melania Trump on Her Rise, Her Family Secrets, and Her True Political Views: "Nobody Will Ever Know"". GQ. Archived from the original on September 6, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  14. Jordan 2020, pp. 76–77.
  15. Jordan 2020, p. 83.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Cite error: The named reference VanityFair was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  17. 17.0 17.1 Caroli 2019, p. 334.
  18. Jordan 2020, pp. 81–82.
  19. Jordan 2020, pp. 89–92.
  20. Caldwell, Alicia; Day, Chad; Pearson, Jake (November 5, 2016). "Melania Trump Modeled in US Prior to Getting Work Visa". Associated Press. Retrieved April 24, 2022.
  21. Snell, Kelsey (January 20, 2017). "White House website promotes Melania Trump's modeling and jewelry line". The Washington Post. Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  22. Friedman, Lindsay (February 25, 2016). "Melania Trump's Business Leanings and 4 Other Things You Should Know About the Potential First Lady". Entrepreneur Magazine. Archived from the original on November 8, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Hall, Kevin G. (February 22, 2017). "White House says Melania isn't in business. So why are her companies still active?". McClatchy. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  24. "Melania Trump – The White House". trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  25. Bradner, Eric (November 4, 2016). "Melania Trump: Ending social media bullying would be focus as first lady". CNN. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  26. Tumulty, Karen; Costa, Robert; Del Real, Jose (July 19, 2016). "Scrutiny of Melania Trump's speech follows plagiarism allegations". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 20, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  27. Bump, Philip (July 19, 2016). "Melania Trump's speech appears to have cribbed from Michelle Obama's in 2008". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 20, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  28. Haberman, Maggie; Rappeport, Alan; Healy, Patrick (July 19, 2016). "Melania Trump's Speech Bears Striking Similarities to Michelle Obama's in 2008". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  29. "Melania Trump – The White House". trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  30. "Melania Trump – The White House". trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2024-02-03.
  31. "Melania Trump – The White House". trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved 2024-02-03.
  32. Sieczkowski, Cavan (May 25, 2017). "Melania Trump Will Be The First Catholic To Live At The White House Since JFK". HuffPost. Archived from the original on May 26, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  33. "US First Lady Melania Trump Is Catholic, Spokeswoman Confirms". The Catholic Herald. May 26, 2017. Archived from the original on May 26, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2017.

Official websites[change | change source]

https://www.whitehouse.gov/melania-trump/

https://melaniatrump.com/