Even before she was known as the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump was not your typical girl next door.
Born in Slovenia (then the communist Yugoslavia) to Viktor and Amalija Knavs, Melania was raised in the small town of Sevnica, which consisted of only 5,000 people. Her father worked as a car dealer, while her mother was a children's clothing designer, which helped fuel her creative nature.
She went to study architecture and design at the University of Ljubljana, but "paused" her studies to focus on her budding modelling career.
"She realized that those are the best days for a beautiful woman, not to be wasted," said Blaz Vogelnik, her first-year architecture teacher.
She was discovered at 16 years old by Stane Jerko, who took the pictures of her first ever photo shoot.
"I still remember how tall she was and how beautiful her figure and hair were," Jerko told the AP. "There was no smile on her face because she was shy and scared, but I encouraged her to come to the studio."
Two years later, she signed with a modeling agency in Milan, which took her all over Europe. In 1996 her career took her New York, where she changed her name to Melania Knauss.
"She always knew she would to leave Sevnica because it was too small for her. She wanted to go to Ljubljana. That was her first goal. It's a big city for those us here,'' her school friend Diana Kosar said.
Despite the fact Melania was trying to make a name for herself in the modelling industry, she was quite reserved after she finished work, often preferring to go home and have a quiet night in with her sister, than go out and party.
"She kept to herself, she was a loner. After a shoot or a catwalk, she went home, not out. She didn’t want to waste time partying,” Jerko recalled.
"Boys at that time liked more party girls, and we were not this,” Petra Sedej, Melania’s former classmate, added. Instead, Sedej explained she and the future First Lady would spend their free time being homebodies, where they would "drink juice and talk."
While the public may be shocked to learn Melania didn't crave the public attention that comes with being a model, another unnamed friend said those who knew her knew "she was really happy with those two, three, four people she was with. She didn’t need more."
In 1998, Melania would be introduced to Donald Trump at a Fashion Week party in Manhattan.
While he arrived with a date in tow, Melania immediately caught his attention. When Donald asked for her number, she turned the tables on him and asked for his instead.
"If I give him my number, I’m just one of the women he calls," Melania recalled.
"I wanted to see what his intention is," she added. "It tells you a lot from the man what kind of number he gives you. He gave me all of his numbers."
While they did break up for a short period of time, she would eventually become Mrs. Donald Trump.
They tied the knot in 2005 Palm Beach Episcopal Church, with an extravagant reception at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, which featured a $50,000 cake. Plenty of high profile guests were invited to the ceremony, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Katie Couric, Diddy, Heidi Klum, and Shaquille O’Neal.
On her big day, Melania wore an embroidered couture dress from Christian Dior estimated to be valued at more than $100,000.
Even though the ornamentation on her gown took more than 500 hours to complete, the time spent was well worth it, as Melania would later wear it again on the front cover of Vogue.
In 2009, Melania and Donald welcomed their son Barron into the world, who she constantly dotes on.
I am a full time mom; that is my first job. The most important job ever," Melania told Parenting.com. "I cook him breakfast. Bring him to school. Pick him up. Prepare his lunch. I spend the afternoon with him."
"I think the number one parenting secret is that it is so important to have a good listening skills. I listen to what he says, what troubles him and what he is excited about," she said. "Then I can guide and support. I don’t push my thoughts or likes or dislikes. I want him to grow to be his own person"
"If he says no, we listen to him. It’s no and we don’t try to change it. It’s important to let them be who they are. Be their friend and parent as well. When they’re in trouble they will come to you first. Don’t try to change their opinion," she concluded.
When her son became old enough to go to school, Melania began to start working on her passion projects, which included a jewelry line with QVC, called Melania Timepieces and Jewelry.
She said she was extremely hands on with the collection, and created pieces that truly represented her.
"I am the art director and designer. I sketch––I love to put the pen to paper and start a piece from scratch. I design the things I love. I studied design and architecture and that’s what I really like to do. It’s a passion of mine. That passion is what brought me to create the jewelry and timepieces," Melania shared.
While she created several pieces of jewelry, there was one item that stood out amongst the rest.
"There is one special piece in the collection that is based off of a piece that I own. I designed the same bracelet that my parents gave me for Christmas when I was younger," she said.
"My father gave it to my mother many years prior and my parents had replicas made for my sister and me to symbolize our love for each other. It’s a constant reminder to us; it’s beautiful," she added.
In 2016, her picture perfect life at the Trump Tower would turned upside down when Donald announced he was running for president. Although she wasn't initially thrilled with the idea, she vowed to still support her husband on his endeavour.
"When we discussed about it, I said he really needs to make sure he knows he really wants to do it, because life changes," Melania explained.
Although she ultimately did become the 45th First Lady of the United States, a source close to the couple said this was the last thing she wanted.
"This isn’t something she wanted and it isn’t something he ever thought he’d win," the insider said. “She didn’t want this come hell or high water. I don’t think she thought it was going to happen."
Melania, who has now been in her position for a little more than a year, rarely discusses politics, as she believes it's her husband's job.
"I'm choosing not to go political in public because that is my husband's job. I'm very political in private life, and between me and my husband I know everything that is going on. I follow from A to Z," Melania told Harper's Baazar.
"But I chose not to be on the campaign. I made that choice. I have my own mind. I am my own person, and I think my husband likes that about me," she added.
While her husband runs the country, Melania prefers to spend her time advocating for several charities and campaigns. One of her biggest tasks right now is fighting against cyber bullying - something her own son has become a victim of.
During Donald's presidential campaign, media outlets speculated Barron was on the Autism spectrum. This led to cruel remarks from internet users who profusely mocked the 11-year-old boy.
Like the protective mama bear she is, Melania was quick to respond. She threatened to sue the YouTuber who first made the allegations, along with demanding the video get deleted and a formal apology be issued.
"A video was posted at YouTube recently speculating that [the boy] might be autistic. He is not. The video includes the hashtag 'StopTheBullying' but yet the video itself is bullying by making false statements and speculation about a 10-year-old boy for the purpose of harassing him and his parents," Melania's lawyer told The Hollywood Reporter.
When the creator of the video, James Hunter, realized his error in judgement, his apology was immediate.
"It was incredibly irresponsible of me to diagnose Barron Trump using a selection of misleading videos," the YouTuber said in his apology. "I can understand if you might not want to accept my apology, but please know I didn't mean to hurt anyone with my video."
"As someone who was diagnosed at age 5 and has gone through bullying myself, I would NEVER do something like that," he also said in a statement to TMZ. "I made this because I truly believed Barron was on the spectrum, and I wanted people to stop bullying him over his 'weird' behavior and explain to them that it might actually be due to a condition."
While people may be skeptical of Melania's ability to be a good First Lady, there is more than just a former model and doting mother than just meets the eye. She is exceptionally smart, and is said to be fluent in Slovenian, English, French, Serbian and German languages, along with some Italian, as well.
Melania's longtime friend, fashion designer Rachel Roy, said the First Lady is one of the most savvy women you could ever meet.
"She is someone who can talk you down from a ledge, whatever crisis you may be in," Roy said, adding when her fashion line was going through turmoil, she turned to Melania for advice.
"She told me how to protect myself," Roy explained. "She is not fearful. She is bold, but she is graceful."
But, Melania hints the public's perception of her is mainly construed by the press.
"They say I'm shy," Melania said. "I am not shy. They interview people about me who don't even know me. These people, they want to have 15 minutes of fame in talking about me, and reporters don't check the facts...You can see how they turn around stories and how unfair they can be."
When Donald and Melania went to a state visit in France last week, French President Emmanuel Macron's wife Brigitte told French newspaper Le Monde, that Melania was “actually really fun."
"We have the same sense of humor. We laugh a lot together," Brigitte adding that the FLOTUS was also very "kind, charming, intelligent and very open."
"She’s someone who has a strong personality, but works hard to hide it. She laughs very easily, at everything, but shows it less than I do," she concluded.
Interested in learning more about the other First Ladies of the United States? Check these articles out:
- 7 Times First Ladies Were A Force To Be Reckoned With
- 8 Weird Facts About America's First Ladies That You'll Work Into Your Next Conversation
- New Tell-All Book Claims Jackie Kennedy Did Not Marry J.F.K. Out Of Love
- Michelle Obama Just Made An Announcement That Will Change The 2020 Election