As the Russian invasion aggravates in Ukraine, Olena Zelenska has emerged to be Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s most steadfast supporter after her decision to stand by her husband and not flee the country with her family.
In a video statement Zelenskyy claimed that Russia has marked him and his family as “target number one” and “target number two.” “They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state. I will stay in the capital. My family is also in Ukraine,” he assured his citizens. Extending her support to her husband, Zelenska has been documenting the horrors of the war on social media and inspiring her citizens to stay strong.
So who is Olena Zelenska, the brave First Lady who stands head-first during her nation’s worst crisis?
Olena Zelenska has always been wary of the public eye, preferring to stay within the shadows. Inspite of that, her dignity and grace earned her a spot on the list of the 100 most influential Ukrainians.
While studying architecture at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at Kryvyi Rih National University, Zelenska developed an affinity towards screenwriting and wrote texts for the comedy troupe Kvartal 95 that also starred Volodymyr Zelenskyy, ultimately choosing to devoting her career to the craft. That’s where she fell in love with her husband, actor, comedian and now the President of Ukraine.
She is said to be a writer and an integral part on the Ukrainian comedy series, Servant of the People, which skyrocketed Zelenskyy into fame.
The pair reportedly dated for eight years before tying the knot on September 6, 2003. A year later they welcomed a daughter named Aleksandra, who is now 17. The couple also shares a 9-year-old son named Kiril.
In 2019, she was featured on the cover of the Ukrainian edition of Vogue where she defended her stance on privacy and revealed, “My husband is always on the forefront, while I feel more comfortable in the shade. I am not the life of the party, I do not like to tell jokes. It’s not in my character. But I found reasons for myself in favour of publicity. One of them is the opportunity to attract people’s attention to important social issues. At the same time, this does not concern the publicity of my children: I have not posted their photos on social networks before, and now I will not either.”
In a story that has now been immortalized in the pages of history, Zelenskyy famously forgot to loop in his wife on his Presidential bid. Finding out about the candidacy on social media, she told the outlet she confronted her husband by saying: “Why didn’t you tell me?” and he replied, “I forgot.”
At first, she opposed her husband’s political career fearing the invasion of privacy, but the First Lady has since come to terms with her position and become a champion for social and humanitarian causes including the Paralympics, children’s nutrition and domestic violence.
In an Instagram post, Zelenska wrote to her citizens: “I will not have panic and tears, I will be calm and confident. My children are looking at me. I will be next to them. And next to my husband. And with you.”