NEW YORK — Twelve years and three wigs later, John Di Domenico is finally cashing in.
The Philadelphia native has been impersonating Donald Trump since the first season of “The Apprentice” aired in 2004. But interest in the actor’s skills skyrocketed when Trump announced his plan to run for President last summer. Now Di Domenico says he might be the most highly paid Trump impersonator in the country.
Di Domenico gets at least six calls a day asking to do voice-overs, radio interviews, late night talk show appearances and meet and greets. But his biggest moneymakers are corporate appearances. Di Domenico earns anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000 to roast executives. One month, he even raked in about $40,000.
Di Domenico draws on Trump’s stump speeches for inspiration.
“Anytime I do any kind of a group event, the first thing I say is, ‘Are there any Mexicans here?,” the actor said. “There’s usually a round of applause. From that I say, ‘You see that? You see that? The Mexicans love me. They absolutely love me.'”
But his go-to line is always about “The Wall.”
“We’re putting a phenomenal Trump Hotel on top of The Wall. It’s going to be the absolute maximum in luxury.”
Di Domenico is methodical in his approach to portraying Trump.
He’ll read the New York Times and watch clips from CNN, Fox, and MSNBC to make sure his act has the most recent Trump-isms.
“I’m always trying to stay ahead of what’s happening,” the actor said. “I’m writing multiple scripts, so I like to drop in the most recent quotes that he says and work a bit around it.”
His ties are actually from the Donald J. Trump Collection. And his wigs are made from real human hair. Those don’t come cheaply. He has three of them and each cost $4,000.
Di Domenico started impersonating characters when he was five, as a way to overcome a severe speech impediment. He was in speech therapy for eight years and learned about vocal production and enunciation. When it came time to learn the Trump voice, Di Domenico used these skills to master the impersonation.
“I broke the voice down by throat placement, nasal placement, actual vocal production and the way he kind of forms his lips,” he said.
Di Domenico has never been on a television series or landed a role in a successful movie franchise. But impersonating Trump has provided him with consistent work as an actor unlike anything else.
So will Di Domenico vote for the Republican candidate?
“I’ll put it this way, if I do vote for him, it’ll probably help my career,” he said.