Melania Trump aka Melanija Knavs aka Melania Knauss was born in communist Yugoslavia, now known as Slovenia. While many think she was a well-established and money-making modeling machine before getting hitched to Trump, they are quite wrong. Prior to the Don, Melania was a fairly unknown model still living in Eastern Europe.
Melania made decent money from modeling jobs, though none that would put her in anything close to “supermodel” status. In fact, The Guardian uncovered ten modeling jobs she was paid for (prior to obtaining her Green Card) that netted her only about $20k total.
Most of these jobs, however, were high-paying and not of the high caliber that she’s now used to as First Lady. In fact, some of the photos that have been dug up since she got into the White House been extremely embarrassing for her, including some trashy nudes.
She moved to New York City in 1996, and not long after in 1998, she met Trump at a party. He was in the process of divorcing his second wife at the time. Modeling really picked up for her once she started dating Donald Trump. With his entertainment connections, she quickly started getting more work with modeling and small acting jobs. After they started dating, she appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, and New York Magazine, as well as the 2000 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. They tied the knot in 2005.
After the wedding, her modeling status skyrocketed. She appeared on the February 2005 cover of Vogue in her wedding gown, as well as covers of many other top fashion magazines.
She landed some small acting roles likely courtesy of her then boyfriend Donald, like her role in 2001’s Zoolander, where she appeared alongside her future husband. She also cameoed on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2013 where she promoted her own products.
Since then, she followed Trump’s model of hawking a range of products, from caviar skin cream to jewelry.
She also increased her net worth by $2.9 million in a settlement against the Daily Mail in 2016 for false claims against her in an article alleging she had worked as an escort during her modeling days.
Now, she spends most of her time doing First Lady duties and acting as an anti-bullying spokesperson. Seemingly at odds with her husband’s approach to politics, she said, “I think it’s important that we choose kindness and compassion.”