Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs [mɛˈlaːnija ˈknaːu̯s], April 26, 1970; Germanized to Melania Knauss) is the current First Lady of the United States. Before marrying future President Donald Trump in 2005, she worked as a fashion model; by 2016 she considered herself a "full-time mom".
She was born in the city of Novo Mesto in Slovenia, then known as the Socialist Republic of Slovenia within Yugoslavia. She became a permanent resident of the United States in 2001, and obtained U.S. citizenship in 2006.
Melanija Knavs was born in Novo Mesto in the southeast of Slovenia, which was then part of Yugoslavia, on April 26, 1970. She is a daughter of Amalija (née Ulčnik) and Viktor Knavs, who managed car and motorcycle dealerships for a state-owned vehicle manufacturer. Her father was from the nearby town of Radeče. Her mother came from the village of Raka, and was a patternmaker at the children's clothing manufacturer "Jutranjka" in Sevnica.
Knavs grew up in a modest apartment in a housing block in Sevnica, in Slovenia's Lower Sava Valley. She has a older sister, Ines, and an older half-brother, whom she reportedly has never met, from her father's previous relationship. As the Communist Party in Slovenia upheld atheism, Knavs' father did not publicly sponsor her Christian sacraments of baptism or first communion. As such, Knavs was secretly baptized by Franc Čampa, the parish priest of St. Lawrence's Church in Raka, on June 14, 1970.
When Knavs was a teenager, the family moved to a two-story house in Sevnica, and as a high school student, she lived in a high-rise apartment in Ljubljana. Knavs attended the Secondary School of Design and Photography in Ljubljana, and studied at the University of Ljubljana for one year before dropping out. She speaks English, French, Italian, and German, in addition to Serbo-Croatian and her native Slovene. In her husband's first foreign trip as President in May 2017, Melania spoke in Italian with children at Bambino Gesù Hospital, a pediatric hospital in Rome.
Knavs began modeling at age five and started doing commercials at 16, when she posed for the Slovenian fashion photographer Stane Jerko. When she began working as a model, she changed the Slovene form of her last name Knavs to the German Knauss. At 18, she signed with a modeling agency in Milan, Italy. She was named runner-up in the 1992 Jana Magazine "Look of the Year" contest, held in Ljubljana, which promised its top three contestants an international modeling contract.
After attending the University of Ljubljana for one year, Knavs modeled for fashion houses in Paris and Milan, where, in 1995, she met Metropolitan Models co-owner Paolo Zampolli, a friend of her future husband Donald Trump, who was on a scouting trip in Europe. Zampolli urged her to travel to the United States, where he said he would like to represent her. In 1996 she moved to New York City, living in an apartment in Zeckendorf Towers on Union Square, with roommate, photographer Matthew Atanian, per Zampolli's arrangements.
Her work in the United States began prior to receiving a legal work visa. According to Atanian, then shooting for Marie Claire, the then-26-year-old Knauss was getting second- and third-tier modeling work, and asked him to help her get in the magazine, but her prospects were limited, because her movements were not particularly graceful. This changed after she met Donald Trump, with her American magazine cover shoots including In Style Weddings, New York Magazine, Avenue, Philadelphia Style, Vanity Fair and Vogue. She modeled for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 2000. Her modeling career was associated with Irene Marie Models and Trump Model Management.
Knauss met real estate mogul Donald Trump at a party thrown by Zampolli at the Times Square nightclub the Kit Kat Club (now the Stephen Sondheim Theatre), in September 1998 at a New York Fashion Week. Trump had been separated from Marla Maples since May 1997, and attended the party with Norwegian cosmetics heiress Celina Midelfart. When Midelfart went off to use the bathroom, Trump approached Knauss and asked for her number. She took his number instead, and subsequently they attended the 1990s Greenwich Village hot spot Moomba, and began a relationship. While they were dating, Trump relocated her family to New York, where her parents now live for most of the year. The couple gained attention after a 1999 interview on The Howard Stern Show. In 2000, she appeared with Trump while he campaigned for that year's Reform Party presidential nomination. Trump described their long courtship in 2005, and stated: "We literally have never had an argument, forget about the word 'fight' ... We just are very compatible. We get along."
After becoming engaged in 2004, Knauss married Donald in an Anglican service on January 22, 2005, at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, followed by a reception in the ballroom at her husband's Mar-a-Lago estate. The event was attended by celebrities such as Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Rudy Giuliani, Heidi Klum, Star Jones, P. Diddy, Shaquille O'Neal, Barbara Walters, Conrad Black, Regis Philbin, Simon Cowell, Kelly Ripa, then-Senator Hillary Clinton, and former president Bill Clinton. At the reception, Billy Joel serenaded the crowd with "Just the Way You Are" and supplied new lyrics to the tune of "The Lady Is a Tramp". The Trumps' wedding ceremony and reception were widely covered by the media. She wore a $200,000 dress made by John Galliano of the house of Christian Dior.
In November 2015, when asked about her husband's presidential campaign, Trump said: "I encouraged him because I know what he will do and what he can do for America. He loves the American people and he wants to help them." Trump played a relatively small role in her husband's campaign—atypical of spouses of presidential running mates.
In July 2016, Trump's official website was redirected to Trump.com. On Twitter, she stated that her site was outdated and did not "accurately reflect [her] current business and professional interests".
On July 18, 2016, Trump gave a speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. The speech contained a paragraph that was nearly identical to a paragraph of Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. When asked about the speech, Trump said she wrote the speech herself "with as little help as possible". Two days later, Trump staff writer Meredith McIver took responsibility and apologized for the "confusion".
In February 2017, Trump sued Mail Media, the owner of The Daily Mail, seeking $150 million in damages over an August 2016 article which falsely alleged that she had worked for an escort service during her modeling days. The Mail retracted the article, apologized, and printed the retraction from the blogger they were quoting, who said: "I had no legitimate factual basis to make these false statements and I fully retract them". The lawsuit stated the article had ruined her "unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to establish "multimillion dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which Plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world". Her claim raised potential ethical questions, but the first lady is not an employee of the government and not a government official. On February 18, the lawsuit was amended, removing the language about her earning potential and focusing instead on emotional distress. In April 2017, the parties settled the lawsuit and the Daily Mail issued a statement that said, "We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them." The Mail agreed to pay Trump $2.9 million.
Five days before the election, she told a crowd of supporters in Pennsylvania: "Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially to children and teenagers. It is never OK when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied, or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground. And it is absolutely unacceptable when it is done by someone with no name hiding on the internet." Regarding the contrast of her platform with her husband's use of Twitter during his campaign, Melania said shortly after the election that she had rebuked him "all the time" but that "he will do what he wants to do in the end".
Melania assumed the role of First Lady of the United States on January 20, 2017. She is the second foreign-born woman to hold this title (after Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, who was born in 1775 in London to an American father and British mother). She is the first First Lady to be a naturalized (rather than birthright) citizen of the United States, and the first to speak English as a second language. At 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m), she is also one of the tallest First Ladies to hold the office, tied with Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt. She continued living in Trump Tower with her son Barron until the end of the 2016–17 school year, and moved to the White House on June 11, 2017.
Her Secret Service code name is "Muse" (beginning with the same letter as Trump's code name, "Mogul", per Secret Service tradition).
When asked by The New York Times in 1999 what her role would be if Donald Trump were to become president, Melania replied: "I would be very traditional. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy." In 2016, she told CNN her focus as First Lady would be to help women and children. She also said she would combat cyberbullying, especially among children, having quit social media herself due to the "negativity".
The first White House event led by Trump was a luncheon for International Women's Day on March 8, 2017. Trump spoke to an audience of women about her life as a female immigrant, and about working towards gender equality both domestically and abroad, noting the role of education as a tool against gender inequality.
In March 2017, Slovenia honored her by introducing "First Lady" wine, a red wine produced in the region near her hometown of Sevnica.
In February 2017, at a Florida rally, Melania Trump led the crowd in the recitation of Lord's Prayer. Later, during her and her husband's visit to Vatican City in May 2017, Trump revealed that she is a Catholic, the first Catholic to live in the White House since President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie over half a century earlier.
Her father was a member of the Communist Party in Slovenia in order to work, and the party was official atheist...people in her native Slovenian village of Sevnica say her Communist Party-enrolled father didn't have her baptized or sponsor her First Communion, in keeping with the atheist appearances of the communists.
Trump’s father was a member of the Communist party in Slovenia, which meant the family were officially atheists. Donald Trump is Presbyterian; the couple married in an Episcopal church.
Melanija Knavs was baptised on 14 June 1970 in Raka (the village where here mother came from). The church was called St. Lawrence, the master of ceremony was pastor Franc Campa. Her sister Ines had also been baptised there, and there had been a church service following the official civil marriage of her parents in 1967 (Požar, p. 94). This was all not in accordance with what was officially allowed to members of the Communist Party, but it was nevertheless quite common to do it secretly.
In the interview, the cardinal reports that Melania spoke with him of her baptism in Raka (her mother’s hometown), close to Melania’s birthplace of Novo Mesto.
Her Web site states that she obtained a degree in architecture and design from the University of Ljubljana when in fact she dropped out in her first year.
The beauty of The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea was unadorned, with only giant bows fashioned from orchids and white roses at the end of each pew and simple but elegant white arrangements on the candlelit altar. The bride walked down the aisle carrying only an ancient rosary not to Lohengrin or Wagner, but to a vocalist singing Ave Maria in an exquisite soprano voice. The Rev. Ralph R. Warren performed the traditional Episcopalian service at the landmark church, which was filled to capacity.
First lady Melania Trump kicked off President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday by reciting the Lord's prayer and telling the crowd she will "always stay true to myself, and be truthful to you."
|First Lady of the United States
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