News & Politics

Biden’s Next Protocol Chief Is a Reality TV Star in Denmark

Rufus Gifford is also an improv comedian.

Photo by Flickr user News Oresund-Johan Wessman.

Joe Biden announced his pick for chief of protocol today, tapping former ambassador to Denmark and Danish reality TV star Rufus Gifford for the role. Gifford has a knack for turning diplomatic gigs into attention-getting opportunities: the Obama-era ambassador starred in reality show Jeg er ambassadøren fra Amerikawhich translates to I Am the Ambassador from America—during his tenure abroad.

Gifford is kind of a big deal in Copenhagen. His two-season TV show chronicled his foreign-policy work while also giving viewers a window into the diplomat’s personal life. Gifford is married to veterinarian Stephen DeVincent—their elegant wedding was featured by Vogue Weddings—and the couple are parents to golden retrievers Argo and Svend. The series even earned the former ambassador a Danish television award.

Gifford’s entertainment-biz experience extends well beyond just Scandinavian television. Before his diplomatic career, the Massachusetts native was an associate producer on such notable films as Daddy Day Care and Dr. Doolittle 2. He also helped bring improv comedy to Denmark, which apparently the country somehow did not consider a breach of diplomatic etiquette.

In his new role, Gifford will act as Biden’s liaison to the diplomatic community. That work includes coordinating schedules for foreign dignitaries who visit the United States and ensuring members of the administration are familiar with differences in decorum when they travel.

Does this mean there could soon be a weekly American reality show chronicling the wacky misunderstandings and complications of high-stakes diplomatic protocol? We’d watch it.

 

 

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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.