When Sarah Palin popped up on the national radar, people said it was a role Tina Fey was born to play. The same may be true of Chicago native Reggie Brown.
There's no question the 28 year old looks like a younger version of Barack Obama -- how much depends on your own judgement -- but as Obama's star has risen, Brown's world has changed as well.
"Not a single day goes by when I'm out in public that someone doesn't mention it," Brown says. "Whether it's the grocery store, or at work [Ajasteak], every single table makes a comment about it."
Brown remembers the first time he heard it, about five years ago when he was a waiter at the old Butterfield 8 restaurant on Huron and Wells.
"A customer said, 'I can't get over it. You remind me of my professor from the University of Chicago,'" Brown said. "I checked him out on the Internet and thought, 'I don't look like this guy. He's got to be in his 40s."
But it wasn't long before Brown -- like the rest of the state, the country, and the entire world -- got to know the Illinois senator very well. And over the past year, as more people noticed Obama, they also tuned into Brown's uncanny resemblance, including The Chicago Tribune and a Japanese newspaper called The Yomiuri Shimvun, which both did profiles on him.
A New Career Opportunity?
Brown is a former model who is seeking a career in TV. (Full disclosure: Brown is a member of the NBC Chicago Street Team.)
He's trained in both voice-over and acting, and has now decided to use his experience to play a role that seems to have literally fallen into his lap. But it took him a minute to fully embrace it.
"I'm kind of an independent guy, so at first I didn't want to use that as the impetus to further my career. But now I realize that things happen for a reason, and it's an amazing opportunity because there's no one else I would rather be compared to," Brown said.
Brown had no luck when he first tried to contact agencies to try and get work as an Obama impersonator, but all that changed when he posted a YouTube video of a mock press conference a few weeks ago.
Now the offers are rolling in. Brown says he's in discussions with a California-based agent who represents a number of presidential look-a-likes, and another agency wants him to shoot some spots in Korea.
In the meantime, he's practicing Obama's characteristics, gestures and inflection, plus reading magazines and books about the incoming president, including the "Dreams From My Father" audiobook.
"I think there are people who have the sound, but not the look, and others have the look, but not the sound. Nobody's nailed it yet, but it's not that far outside my natural speech pattern to get there," Brown said.
Brown has never met Obama, but what would he say if he did?
"Nice to meet you? I don't know, I'd probably introduce myself, but more than anything I'd say thank you."