News & Politics

You Look Just Like…

Meet Six Washingtonians Who Make People Do Double Takes.


This Reston Native Can Play the Part

AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK SOMEONE STOPS ME ON THE STREET and says, "You know, you look just like that actress Reese Witherspoon." It's gotten to be a joke among my friends and family.

Sometimes for fun I'll go to her movies dressed like whatever part she has and wear dark glasses, just to see people's reactions. People will whisper and point. In Election, she was kind of schoolgirly, so I did a little plaid skirt and a ponytail.

The funniest was last Halloween. My friend Catherine's boyfriend invited me to a party in Adams Morgan. I dressed in costume like everyone else, but Catherine's boyfriend, Erik, introduced me to everyone as "Reese."

The reactions were hysterical. Most people just smiled and shook my hand and asked what I was doing in the area. People were coming up to Catherine asking her how she knew me. I left early, and about an hour later I got a phone call from the host of the party saying I had missed the award. I asked, "Award for what?" and he replied, "Most convincing costume! We all believed you!" Catherine had blown my cover after I left.


Aspiring Actress and Dancer Has All the Moves

I WAS WORKING AT CAST OF THOUSANDS AS A BACKUP DANCER for the Ricky Martin impersonator. When he decided to go to Vegas, I wanted to continue working for Cast of Thousands. My boyfriend said, "You could be a Britney Spears impersonator." My body type is similar to hers. I don't look like her so much in the face. But with the wig and makeup . . . .

I got her albums and her videos. I studied her dance moves, that sassy dance style.

My mom and I made the "slave" outfit in the photo; we copied it from her video. I have really cute white shiny pants and a matching white top with rhinestone studs. Anything glittery, anything short that shows the belly.

I do a lot of bar and bat mitzvahs. A lot of birthday parties, graduation parties.

Usually I do three songs. I can sing, but generally I have her vocal track on a CD. If it's an older crowd, I'll do her covers–"The Beat Goes On" or "Satisfaction." For kids, I do her hits–". . . Baby One More Time," "I'm a Slave 4 U," "Oops! . . .I Did It Again." I pull the kids up, get them to join in, dance.It's a blast.

It's fun when I show up at a party and they think it's Britney. Adults tend to be the most gullible. They'll say, "Oh my God, I can't believe they got Britney for their daughter's bar mitzvah."

It's funny to see how people behave when they think you're someone famous. When they think you're famous, you get a lot of respect all of a sudden.


Foggy Bottom Resident Has a Great Fake

IT'S HAPPENED HUNDREDS OF TIMES–PEOPLE WILL TELL ME, "You look like someone familiar." It's usually Pat Riley or Kirk Douglas or the actor Armand Assante.

Once, on the Metro, I was sitting reading the New York Times. Pat Riley used to coach the New York Knicks. I heard this whispering–four teenagers going psst, psst. I had to tell them I was not Pat Riley. But then we did discuss basketball.

Pat came to town one time. He was at Channel 9. It was a studio audience, so I thought, "What the heck, I'm going to go." As I went in, a couple of people said, "Hi, Coach," then realized I wasn't the coach. When I got inside and met Pat Riley, he said I was his long-lost twin brother–minus eight inches in height.

I work at National Geographic. I'm active on the embassy circuit. I'm also on the local board of the United Nations Association and a member of the World Affairs Council. It's strange–I'll walk into a room and people will think I'm someone I'm not. Sometimes you have that kind of face.


This Burke Woman Gets the Royal Treatment

MY NICKNAME IS LADY DI. A FRIEND GAVE ME THAT NICKNAME. I think it's the fact that I am tall and have similar facial features. I have blond hair.

When I wear a hat, I get approached all the time–"Has anyone ever told you you look like Lady Di?"

After she died, it was on people's minds. They'd say, "Oh my gosh, you look like–." It was kind of freaky. I got a lot of looks, especially from far away.

While Princess Diana was still alive, I spent six months living in London. One cold, rainy night, as the working crowd was heading home, the tube stations were closed due to a bomb scare. A cab was my only way home. I spotted a cab and ran up to it, along with a bunch of others. Through the crowd, the driver pointed to me and motioned me to get in.

As we pulled off, he asked if I realized why he had selected me. He said, "You're Lady Di. Now may I take you to your palace." We both laughed and carried on the whole way home.


Alexandria Woman Is Also a Funny Girl

AS SOON AS BARBRA STREISAND BECAME FAMOUS, SO DID I. Although I'm younger than Barbra. And my husband is a whole lot better looking than James Brolin. He loves when I say that.

I'm not a dead ringer. People know the difference. What I get is more "It's amazing how much you look like her" or "Are you related to Barbra?" In a restaurant I might overhear, "Doesn't she look like Barbra Streisand?" But no, I could not get into an event in Hollywood.

Strangers walk up to me all the time and ask if I can sing. Yes, I can, a little. No, I don't sound like Barbra.

The funniest question I am asked is, "Have you always looked like Barbra?" I usually say, "No, as a matter of fact, up until two weeks ago I looked like Sylvester Stallone." Most people, if they can walk up to a stranger on the street, they have a good sense of humor. I meet a lot of people that way.

It's flattering. However, sometimes people don't get to know me because they can't get past my looks. I'm a motivational speaker. In my seminars, I talk about looking like Barbra right away. It defuses the situation.

I don't try to be her. I enjoy being myself. It's a lot more relaxing.


A GW Senior Whose Ship Has Come In

PEOPLE STOP ME QUITE A BIT ON THE STREET, IN THE BANK, IN the grocery store and say, "Hey, man, you look like that guy from Titanic."

My favorite has to be when I was at Spago in Beverly Hills with a friend two summers ago. After we were seated, the manager of the restaurant and our waiter scurried over wheeling these palm trees towards us. I assume these are used to conceal celebrity guests. After they got to the table, they looked at me, then at each other. The manager said, "You're not him, are you?" I laughed. He was a little disappointed.

Once, at Planet Hollywood in DC, this guy came over to my table and told me it was his daughter's birthday and she and all of her friends thought I was Leonardo DiCaprio. I'm pretty sure he didn't think I was, but the girls did. He asked if I would wish her happy birthday.

As I started to walk toward them, this group of squealy, preadolescent girls erupted. I shook their hands, wished the girl happy birthday, and went back to dinner. After that, everyone kept looking toward our table, pointing and whispering.

I get a free drink out of a waitress from time to time. I've signed autographs in airports on a couple of occasions. I'll sign his name, "with love." You may as well have fun with it.*

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.