JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian photographer Ilham Anas won't be at U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration on Tuesday. Instead he'll be starring as an Obama look-alike on Indonesian TV.
Anas, 34, who from some angles bears a resemblance to the new U.S. president, shot to fame in Jakarta after Obama, 47, won the election in November, and is now earning income as an Obama double.
Many Indonesians have a keen interest in Obama, who lived in Jakarta for four years after his American mother, Ann Dunham, married Muslim Indonesian Lolo Soetoro following the end of her marriage to Obama's Kenyan father.
"When Obama won, my colleagues played a practical joke on me -- they made me wear a suit, a tie, and took pictures of me posing as Obama," Anas told Reuters on Saturday.
"The pictures spread very quickly on the Internet. It was phenomenal. Then TV stations and an advertising agency got in touch with me."
That led to an appearance in a pharmaceuticals advertisement in the Philippines where he played Obama, who is due to be sworn in as the 44th U.S. president on Tuesday.
Anas, who was born and raised in Bandung, West Java, said he feels lucky to resemble Obama.
"I never thought I would be a star in a commercial, then this happened. It's very fortunate," Anas said.
"I was in the airport in Malaysia in transit and a man approached me and asked: 'Are you Obama?'. I was very surprised when he asked to take a picture together and bought me a meal," said Anas, flashing a broad smile.
If he ever gets the chance to meet Obama, Anas said he would ask the U.S. president to take a firm stance in dealing with the conflict between Israel and Palestine.