Former Wright State University student and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company member Iman Crosson is an Internet sensation, having attracted 44 millions viewers to his impersonation of President Barack Obama.
In one of his videos, Crosson’s Obama is rapping. In another it’s Crosson as Obama doing a spoof of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
His most successful individual video is a takeoff on rapper T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” which alone has attracted more than 14 million views. He is the 76th “most subscribed” ever on YouTube.
It’s not that he and the president look all that much alike. It’s Crosson’s careful delivery of words and syllables, in the uncanny cadence of Obama. His pauses and emphasis are dead-on as well.
It was when he was working as a wannabe-actor, but actual waiter in Manhattan that he came up with the Obama plan.
“I kinda had an epiphany,” Crosson, 27, who now lives in Thousand Oaks, Calif. and grew up in Cincinnati. “So since Barack Obama is the most famous person in the planet maybe I should come up with an imitation of him.”
That epiphany came after a co-worker said he looked like Obama.
“I was at work in New York and Barack Obama was campaigning,” Crosson said. “I came into work one day and people were joking that I looked like him.”
So Crosson, 27, came up with the imitation and the videos, all the dialogue and lyrics written by him. He earns enough to support himself as people who get a lot of hits on YouTube can enter a partner program agreement with the website to share ad revenue.
He also mimics Obama for a serial on Newsweek’s website called “The District,” which is a political spoof of reality show “The Hills.” There have been reports of a possible NBC pilot, but Crosson cannot talk further about that possibility.
He hasn’t heard from Obama, but he has another famous fan.
In an interview with the Dayton Daily News last week about his upcoming Nutter Center performance, singer/actor Jamie Foxx said he loves Crosson’s videos. Foxx also considers himself a fine Obama impersonator.
“He’s hilarious,” Foxx said. “Tell him we need to battle one day as far as Barack Obama impersonations.”