Hillary impersonator: ‘The email scandal will linger’
© Nick Morris

The email controversy — along with nearly every other move Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE makes — is a big deal for Rosemary Watson. Every time the potential 2016 White House contender makes news, Watson, an impersonator, has to get cracking on new material.

Watson, who also makes a living as a voice-over artist and singer, debuted her Clinton impression during the 2008 presidential race. Posting a series of videos on her website, she was soon described as the entertainer “fast emerging as America’s leading Hillary impersonator.”

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While movements and mannerisms are a big part of the impression, Watson says the writing is crucial. She has her limits when it comes to her one-liners, however: “I always try to imagine could I do this, could I say this in front of her? That’s my whole approach to comedy: I don’t want to be mean-spirited, I want to put laughs out into the world.”

The Southern California mom spoke with ITK about what it takes to transform into Clinton, and how she’s crossing her fingers that the former secretary of State occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. once again: “For the past eight years, I’ve been gearing up for this moment. Let’s hope the train keeps moving forward, because I have bills to pay!”

What are some of the harder components of playing Hillary?

For me personally, the thing that I have to remember when I’m doing her is that she’s very slow. Her movements are very slow and extremely measured, and I’m kind of spazzy, my movements can be kind of jerky. So that’s the thing I really have to pull back.

A lot of emotion comes through her eyes. She raises her eyebrows a lot and her eyes get very wide, but when she moves her hands it’s very slow and measured. I always imagine that I have a rod in my back, that’s the only way that I can do it so that my head and my body move all in one motion.

 

What about the emails controversy, does the news of the day with Hillary affect your act?

Oh yeah. In fact, it’s funny because I was writing something and you know like [“Saturday Night Live,”] they hit the major points. And I was talking about some of the exact same things. The way they even frame it, it’s interesting to see how we approach that similarly.

 

Are you constantly keeping track of the news?

I have a Hillary scanner. It’s like a police scanner. [laughs] Yes and no. The news cycle is so ridiculously, insanely fast; it’s changed in the past eight years.

When I started doing her, in the ‘08 election, you had a little time to create a video, and put it out, and it would still have some legs a few days later. But now, you have to be lightning fast because the story’s done. Now, this one will linger, the email scandal will linger.

 

How do your politics play into this? Are you a Democrat or Republican?

I’m a comedian. [laughs] Let’s just leave it at that.

 

Are you rooting for Clinton in 2016 for job security?

Absolutely. There’s not a question in my mind that everyone needs to vote for her.

 

Do you think an impersonation can affect the public’s view of an elected official?

I don’t think so. I wouldn’t give any of us that amount of credit! [Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin] was different because she wasn’t known, so Tina Fey could make more of an impression, literally and figuratively. I don’t think that’s the case for Hillary though.

People certainly do see what they want to see though. When I do a video, every Republican thinks I’m on their team, and every Democrat thinks I’m on their team. And it’s a good thing. That’s when I know I’m doing a good job, when I’m in the middle, and it feels right to everybody, that’s a good impersonation.