Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is candid about how she “wanted to fade into the background” while growing up because of how she was mocked in the media.
The global health advocate, 42, was just a month shy of turning 13 when she moved to the White House with her parents, then-President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, after being thrown into the limelight during her father’s campaign. in 1992.
She became a target for conservative political pundits and professional comedians alike at such a young age that she can’t remember a time when she and her family weren’t a source of ridicule.
Chelsea pondered the topic of ‘ruthless’ control and why she chose to keep her own children out of the public eye as one of the cover stars of Variety‘s Power of Women issue.
Chelsea Clinton, 42, and her mother, Hillary Clinton, 74, sat down for a joint interview as two of the stars of Variety’s Power of Women issue
The global health advocate reflected on the “ruthless” criticism she faced growing up as the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton. She is pictured with her parents in 1997
“Sometimes I really wanted to fade into the background because I didn’t want so many people looking at me, or so many bright lights looking at me,” she explained during her joint interview with her mother, Hillary, who is also honored.
Chelsea remembered the biblical phrase her mother had learned from her sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Elizabeth King: “Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket.”
“It’s definitely an admonition I grew up with, and sometimes I really needed to hear it,” she said of overcoming the urge to hide from her critics.
The aphorism is so meaningful to the mother-daughter duo that they named the production company they co-founded with Sam Branson – the son of billionaire Richard Branson – HiddenLight Productions.
“One thing Chelsea has repeatedly done is tell people to distance themselves from children. She’s been so consistent and I really respect that,” Hillary told Variety.
Chelsea repeatedly defended former President Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron Trump, while his father was in office, despite their families’ political feud.
Chelsea was a month shy when her father was inaugurated in January 1992. She said that sometimes she “really wanted to fade into the background” and didn’t want people to look at her
When she was a young teen, she was called a “dog” by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and ridiculed on Saturday Night Life
“I feel such a palpable sense of responsibility because I wish more people had stood up for me publicly,” she explained.
After everything the former first daughter has been through, she’s not afraid to be in front of the camera or speak in public — she never has.
“Fortunately, I don’t feel that residual fear,” she said. “As a child I didn’t feel any fear, otherwise I would have just been scared all the time. When I think about raising brave, resilient children, I try to think more about what I want to learn from my experience as a child rather than reacting in a reactionary way.”
Chelsea shares three children — Charlotte, eight, Aidan, six, and Jasper, three — with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, and has gone to great lengths to keep them out of the public eye.
“It’s being aware all the time,” Hillary said of her daughter’s vigilance.
“And that they are conscious and not paranoid,” Chelsea added.
The mother (pictured with her daughter, Charlotte, in 2016) has gone to great lengths to keep her three children out of the public eye and says she wants them to be ‘conscious and not paranoid’
Chelsea repeatedly defended former President Donald Trump’s youngest son, Barron Trump, while his father was in office, despite their family’s political feud
Chelsea (pictured with her parents at the Clinton Global Initiative this month) said she feels “such a tangible sense of responsibility” to help other children in her position, because she wished someone had stood up for her
Chelsea and Hillary are promoting their first series with HiddenLight, “Gutsy,” an AppleTV+ documentary based on their 2019 bestselling book, “Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.”
The show follows them as they go on an adventure with “some of the world’s boldest and bravest women,” including Kim Kardashian, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson and Megan Thee Stallion.
In the first episode, Chelsea opened up her complicated take on comedy after being mocked on national television as a child.
“I think in some ways I had a different experience with comedy than many people because I was so ridiculed as a kid by people who were professional comics artists,” she explained during a discussion with a group of female comedians. .
Hillary pointed out that Chelsea also faced brutal punches from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called her a “dog” when she was 13, but said she didn’t mind that much.
“That was different because Rush Limbaugh already hated us and hated everything you and Daddy stood for,” she told her mother. “So that was actually pretty easy to say, ‘That’s not about me.’
Chelsea and Hillary (pictured with comedian Amy Schumer) have promoted their new docuseries ‘Gutsy’. In the first episode, Chelsea admitted she has a complicated take on comedy after being mocked on national TV as a child
“This episode really taught me a lot because for so long I thought comedy wasn’t really funny,” Chelsea told Yahoo Life. ‘I thought maybe it was mean, and this was really enlightening for me, and I learned a lot about myself’
Chelsea explained that as a child she found it much more disturbing to be mocked on Saturday Night Live. She didn’t go into specifics, but Mike Myers and Dana Carvey laughed at her in a controversial Wayne’s World sketch that aired in 1992.
The joke sparked public outcry and was later removed from reruns of the skit.
“On reflection, we felt that if it was hurtful in any way, it wasn’t worth it. She’s a kid, a kid who didn’t choose to be in public life, executive producer Lorne Michaels said at the time, according to the Seattle Times.
Bill Clinton agreed during an interview with People that it crossed a line.
“I think it’s hilarious when they laugh at me,” he said. “But I think you have to be pretty insensitive to fool a teenage child. I think there’s something kind of off-center with people who do that.’
Two decades later, Chelsea explained that the sketch shaped her take on comedy and professional comedians.
‘When SNL laughed at me, I thought, ‘Wow, a group of adults were in a room’ [and] all decided this was a good idea,” she said. “Nobody thought, like, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t joke about kids.’ I was like, “Oh, I just don’t think I’m funny or okay, so I just don’t think comedy is funny or okay.”‘
When asked if she had a favorite comedian, she couldn’t think of anyone.
“This episode really taught me a lot because for so long I thought comedy wasn’t really funny,” Chelsea said Yahoo Life. “I thought maybe it was mean, and this was really enlightening for me, and I learned a lot about myself. And I’ve learned a lot about comedy and I have a completely new appreciation.’