50 Most Beautiful People 2010 HTML Top 10


1. Alexis Latifi: A rare gem

Age: 24
Hometown: Huntsville, Ala.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Meet Alexis Latifi: raw foodist, bikram yogi, jewelry maker.

Latifi moved to Washington from her native Alabama last fall and has enjoyed taking her unique interests to a higher level.

Seeing her flourish in her new city, her friends and family back home joke, “Hey, you’re not so weird anymore,” says Latifi, a staff assistant for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Led two years ago by the desire to eat healthier, Latifi joined the raw food movement, meaning her diet consists solely of raw plant foods. She now happily tours the city’s Whole Foods Markets, admiring the produce and shopping for recipes like raw spaghetti and raw carrot cake.

“Going to Whole Foods is like clothes shopping for me,” she said. “I’ll go to Whole Foods just to put myself in a good mood.”

The one thing she hasn’t quite figured out about being a raw foodist is how to be a good date.

“Poor boys,” she says, laughing. “I’ll get in the car, and they’re like, ‘Um, I looked for a vegetarian restaurant.’ 

“But I do like going places and trying the salads,” she adds earnestly.

When not dehydrating mangos, Latifi is likely striking one of 26 poses in a 105-degree room as part of her bikram yoga regimen. She attends class at a Dupont Circle studio at least three times a week.

“I’m addicted now,” she said. “I don’t go to things because I have to go to yoga.”

Latifi also brings her jewelry-making kit with her almost everywhere she goes. She made the necklace she’s wearing in her 50 Most Beautiful People photo, and she’ll throw together a piece of jewelry to match a specific outfit right before walking out the door. That’s how she likes to set herself apart.

“I have to have something that looks a little bit different than anybody else and that you haven’t seen in the store,” Latifi said.

 Kris Kitto


2. Laura Donahoe: The fan

Age: 24
Hometown: Selinsgrove, Pa.
Political party: Republican
Relationship status: Single

Laura Donahoe may be a small-town girl from central Pennsylvania, but she’s right at home in the District.

A lobbyist at power firm Van Scoyoc Associates, she loves seeing the Washington intersection of business and politics up close and on the job every day. Only two years out of Susquehanna University, Donahoe is already helping out with a bevy of the firm’s clients.

“I get to see all these worlds and how government affects them,” Donahoe says. 

Lobbying in D.C. is a big change from Selinsgrove, a town with a population of approximately 5,000 and just two stoplights. Donahoe compares it to television’s “Friday Night Lights,” where the big weekly social event is the high school football game. She looks like she could be cast on the television show, too: the archetypal girl-next-door, with sandy brown hair and bright green eyes. 

Working on K Street has its perks. For example, Donahoe is looking forward to her next business trip to the Florida Keys, where she plans to take some scuba diving lessons. 

“I love to be out on the water,” Donahoe says. 

A beach-lover and avid sailor, Donahoe is also a fan of the Washington Nationals. For her, heading to the stadium is one of the best ways to meet up with friends and perhaps lobby some congressional staffers, too (no game tickets paid for, of course). 

“I see it as a happy hour,” Donahoe says. “You can grab a drink, and there’s entertainment right there.” 

She has an ongoing competition with her boss, Van Scoyoc Vice President David Jolly, to see who can catch the most foul balls. Donahoe needs to pick up the pace, though — she has only two so far, while Jolly has 10. 

— Kevin Bogardus


3. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: Supermom

Age: 43
Hometown: Hudson, N.Y.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Married

If you tell Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand there’s something she can’t do, she’ll likely find a way to do it.

Since the day she came to the Senate to fill Hillary Clinton’s shoes, she has had her hands full quieting naysayers, beating back reelection opponents and courting former critics. And that’s just by day. By night she balances a family life that includes two small boys — 2-year-old Henry and 6-year-old Theodore — and fits in an exercise program that the New York Daily News wrote earlier this year has resulted in “a leaner, meaner campaign machine … [with] a slimmer silhouette.”

“I work a lot, but I make sure that my schedule allows me to be a good mom and a good senator,” Gillibrand said in a written interview. “It takes commitment to make sure the schedule allows me to be home in time to have dinner with the kids, do the baths and put them to bed.”

Even before her days in Congress’s upper chamber, Gillibrand found ways to do what she wanted to do amid challenging circumstances. When she was pregnant and still a member of the House, she worked out almost every day in the men’s House gym because the women’s gym was closed at the time.

“I got a lot of ribbing from my male colleagues,” she said.

After adjusting to motherhood, Gillibrand seems to be back into her exercise groove. (“Most of us are not Heidi Klum and Angelina Jolie, who look great the next day” after having a baby, she said. “For me, it took a good two years.”) She co-captained the female Congress members’ softball team, plays tennis and squash when she can, fits in jogs here and there and is hoping to run the New York Marathon again (she’s run it twice before).

But her top priority is her kids. They like to hike, explore the woods and play sports together.

“There is nothing I’d rather do than spend time outside with my children,” she said.

— Kris Kitto

4. Doug Thornell: Finding his path

Age: 34
Hometown: Silver Spring, Md.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: “Single but dating”

Perfectly coiffed and chiseled, Democratic heartthrob Doug Thornell says a four-month stint in Latin America helped him find sanity amid the crazed world of politics.
The communications director in Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s (D-Md.) leadership office hopped on a jet to Costa Rica and enrolled in a Spanish immersion program in January 2005 after enduring six long years of Democratic losses at the polls. Thornell worked on Howard Dean’s failed 2004 presidential bid and also at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the lean early and mid-2000s, and the Cornell University graduate had to figure out if politics was his true passion.
“I just wanted to clear my mind, get things back into perspective; wanted to figure out if politics was something I enjoyed or was something I was addicted to,” Thornell recalls, laughing quietly.
The Costa Rican family he lived with while in the immersion program “didn’t speak one word of English, not one word. I didn’t speak one word of Spanish,” Thornell says, adding that he left the country a “proficient” Spanish speaker.

When not in language class, the former collegiate football wide receiver ran, surfed, swam, read and wrote.
“I highly recommend it for people looking to cool their jets. It was four of the best months that I had in a while,” he says. “It was very much trying to figure out whether I was on the right path.”
It seems that he was. When he returned to the U.S., politics beckoned yet again, and within weeks, he was back at work trying to help Democrats win control of Congress.

Thornell has two sidekicks, dogs Gus and Chase, who got their own chance to pose for the camera at Thornell’s 50 Most Beautiful People photo shoot.

– Molly K. Hooper

5. Ben Dunham: Almost famous

Age: 31
Hometown: Huntsville, Ala.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: In a relationship

Ben Dunham is happy that his life is finally back to normal. Sort of.

In October 2009, the 31-year-old environmental adviser to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) met a certain young actress who was visiting Capitol Hill. And the rest, as they say, is national tabloid news.

The actress, “Mad Men” star January Jones, was in town lobbying for environmental causes when she and Dunham hit it off. Overnight, it seemed, they were spotted all over town, and Dunham’s name landed on every gossip site in the country. It didn’t hurt that his girlfriend's T.V. show was the most talked-about drama on the small screen.

The pair dated for about four months, and true to his roots, the Huntsville, Ala., native is a Southern gentleman about the relationship, declining to discuss Jones with the media.

“I got a lot of weird e-mails, though,” he admits, “and the whole experience convinced me that I never want to be famous, whether as a politician or a celebrity or anything.”

With his soft, barely-there drawl and his honest expression, Dunham seems like an unlikely celeb. The eldest child of two teenage parents, Dunham was raised primarily by his mother, Susan Parlamento, and grandparents Vernon and Peggy Dunham.

Dunham walked onto the University of Mississippi’s football team and went on to earn a law degree at the University of North Carolina. His interest in environmental law is personal — his grandfather died in 2009 of lymphoma after a lifetime spent working on construction sites.

On a lighter note, asked about his dating history, Dunham says it goes pretty far back.

“My first girlfriend was in preschool, a German girl named Schotzy,” he says. “I’ve always loved women."

Dunham flashes a perfect smile, lighting up his blue eyes. That sounds like good news for women, too.

—Christina Wilkie


6.  Nichelle Williams: Sweet home Alabama
Age: 30
Hometown: Mobile, Ala.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Boyfriend

Nichelle Williams was destined for beauty.
Her mother, a “Star Trek” fan, named her after Nichelle Nichols, the stunning actress who played Lt. Uhura aboard the Starship Enterprise.

Williams is as beautiful as her namesake but leads a more down-to-earth life as legislative counsel to Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.).
She has been in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend for three years (he’s still in Alabama), and she considers herself a homebody.
“I don’t have too much of a social life,” she admits. “I do a lot of reading. If I’m not at work, I’m at home.”
She likes to chat on the phone with friends and her close-knit family. Growing up, she bonded with her mom in a house full of four brothers.
“I was very much a tomboy, trying to keep up with my brothers,” who were all involved in sports such as football, tennis and cross-country, she says.
Williams earned a master’s in public health at Emory University and a law degree at the University of Alabama.
Before taking a job with Davis a year and a half ago, she worked at Alabama Appleseed, a social justice advocacy group.
In that job, she says, she saw firsthand the barriers that make it tough for poor people and minorities to get decent healthcare. Williams says the healthcare bill passed by Congress this year is a good first step but far from perfect.
She hopes to switch to healthcare policy but wonders how much longer she can stick it out in Washington. Williams misses home sweet home.
“I think all the talent leaves Alabama.” she says. “It’s my home.”

– Alexander Bolton

7. Rep. Judy Chu: An adventure seeker

Age: 56
Hometown: Monterey Park, Calif.
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Married

Even after having traveled to far-off places like Thailand’s back hills, the Normandy beaches in France and Hawaiian volcanic craters, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) says the weekly five-hour plane trips from her Los Angeles-area district to Washington, D.C., have “taken some getting used to.”

Chu made history last year as the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress when she won the special election to replace Hilda Solis after Solis became Labor secretary. She has been on a plane a lot since then, but not to the travel destinations she and her husband, Mike Eng, prefer.

Both Chu and Eng maintain dizzying schedules — Eng took Chu’s seat in the California State Assembly and travels weekly to Sacramento — but have also made it a priority to see the world.

Chu says there are three travel experiences most memorable to her: a three-hour mountain bike ride down the Haleakala crater in Hawaii, a visit to the beach in Normandy, France, where allied forces landed in World War II and a whitewater rafting trip in northern Thailand.

“We like to get away… and get a different perspective on things,” she says.

These days, “getting away” for the couple means not much more than a weekly date night to the movies or somewhere else nearby when both Chu and Eng return home from their workweeks.

Chu worked her way up to Congress through local politics, but her Ph.D. in psychology might be what serves her most frequently as one of the House’s newest members.

“I try to be grounded and just take a breather every once in a while,” she says in describing her philosophy on personal wellness. “As a psychologist, I know it’s just important not to get stuck in the little things and to see the big picture.”

— Kris Kitto

8.  Asa Lopatin: The experimental cook

Age: 24
Hometown: Washington
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: In a relationship

Asa Lopatin, a native Washingtonian, calls himself “actively easygoing.” He prides himself on his ability to “go with the flow,” a rare trait in a city filled with Type A personalities.

The curly haired 24-year-old with dark eyes and a wide smile has a simple explanation for his disposition: “It’s hard to be uptight when you do not have control.”

The former staff assistant to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) is headed to law school in Washington this fall. But before he starts cramming legal terms into his brain, Lopatin is spending the summer doing what he likes best: working out and cooking. He has recently discovered a passion for running — or, as he puts it, “training to train for a marathon.”

A denizen of Capitol Hill, Lopatin often goes to Eastern Market to shop for fresh ingredients for his cooking experiments. He has also become obsessed with cooking gadgets. This summer, he says, he has been trying out various barbecue recipes and has even made his own pasta.

Naturally, his ideal dates include his favorite activities: going for long runs with his live-in girlfriend on the weekends and strolling through Eastern Market sampling foods.

When he is not on Capitol Hill, Lopatin’s favorite place to spend time is Adams Morgan bar Reef, where he often meets his high-school friends for drinks.

Lopatin, the son of a congressional staffer-turned-lobbyist, grew up in Tenleytown, not far from American University. He left the capital to go to college at the University of Michigan, where he majored in philosophy. But Washington is too “magnetic” for him not to have returned, he says.

— Roxana Tiron

9. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.: Still beautiful

Age: 45
Hometown: Chicago
Political party: Democratic
Relationship status: Married

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. recently read Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. The lessons he took from it?

“The past is gone … live in the moment,” Jackson says.

Jackson’s now: He is the co-chairman of the House Members’ Wellness Center and has ushered in sweeping changes. Jackson, a fitness nut, converted one of the gym’s racquetball courts into a space dedicated to martial arts, yoga, Pilates and the P90X exercise program popular with several lawmakers. (Changes were funded by members’ dues, not by taxpayers’, he’s careful to point out.) He donated a blender and juicer so members can whip up protein shakes and other post-workout meals. And he wanders through the members-only space in the mornings to make sure his fellow lawmakers are happy and taking care of their health.

Jackson’s past: In 1997 he appeared in People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue as its pick for sexiest politician, but he had also put his health on the backburner at that time. Jackson came to Congress in 1996 weighing 210 pounds and ballooned to 310 before undergoing gastric bypass surgery in 2004. He now maintains a svelte 175-pound figure through various forms of fitness, including martial arts (he has a black belt in tae kwon do) and yoga.

“I noticed a fundamental difference in how I was treated before I lost weight,” Jackson says, reminding himself of his motivation to stay fit.

Jackson’s future: He will surely continue to rack up the accolades in the martial arts. Jackson has a standing weekly lesson with Grand Master Jhoon Rhee and an extensive Bruce Lee collection proving his 17-year dedication to the practice.

And he jokes that, after a long stretch between his distinction in People and his appearance on The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People list this year, maybe the streak will continue.

“What’s next?” Jackson asks. “GQ?”

 –Kris Kitto 

10. Anu Vakkalanka: Easy, breezy, beautiful

Age: 28
Hometown: Zoetmeer, Netherlands; and Chennai, India
Political party: “Independent, leaning on Democratic”
Relationship status: Married

The Web address for Anu Vakkalanka's blog is perfect for her: IndianMakeupDiva.com.

It’s an outlet for Vakkalanka, a communications specialist for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, to dispense the kind of wisdom that got her onto this year’s 50 Most Beautiful People list.

“I’m Indian; I came out of the womb wearing eyeliner,” she says.

One of her top tips is to wear blush.

“It makes the world a better place, because it’s pretty, and it makes you look pretty in a moment,” Vakkalanka says. “It makes you feel girly and fun and cute.”

Vakkalanka started the blog while balancing her studies for an international relations master’s at George Washington University with her work as a makeup artist. Her boyfriend at the time — now her husband — hatched the idea.

With her job on Capitol Hill, Vakkalanka can post to her blog only twice a week these days. She says the site doesn’t get much traffic (but that may change).

Vakkalanka says her husband can’t wait to show this year’s 50 Most Beautiful People list to their friends. Her boss is also excited, seeing it as a chance to get the word out about the commission's work.

“It’s probably the best media coverage we’ve gotten,” she says.

Though Vakkalanka seems to know all the tips and tricks to stay pretty, she doesn’t take any shortcuts. She works out daily, and often twice a day. Most times she’s in the gym, running on the treadmill or lifting weights. Once a week she does yoga, to make sure her muscles stay loose. And she’s an avid climber, a fact made plain by her Michelle Obama-esque biceps.

“I’m a girly girl and a very sporty girl,” she says. “I have two great loves: I love climbing, and I love nail polish.”

 – Walter Alarkon