Imagine owning a business, later becoming president, and then employing one of your customers in the White House. If you think that's something that only happens in Hallmark movies, guess again. President Donald Trump has his eyes on a new U.S. ambassador, but who is Lana Marks? The former Mar-a-Lago member could become the new U.S. envoy to South Africa, according to The Wall Street Journal. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on Marks' nomination, but did not immediately hear back.
In a statement on Nov. 14, the White House announced that Trump would be nominating Marks to the post, though she will still need to be confirmed by the Senate. According to CNN, Marks is a South African native and long-time member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago club and golf resort in Palm Beach, Florida. The publication reports that Marks even held her daughter's wedding at the club. On a more professional note, Marks is an upscale handbag designer to the elite including celebrity clients like Jennifer Aniston, Chloe Sevigny, Oprah Winfrey, and even the late Princess Diana, according to her website. Marks' success as the designer and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of her brand also landed her a 2001 invite to the White House for the Women Business Leaders' Forum, and she was selected twice to represent the U.S. at a business forum in Helsinki. Currently, she serves on the Women's Leadership Board at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
While Marks has accomplished a lot and seen great success, she doesn't have any formal diplomatic experience to note, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, according to a Nov. 14 statement from the White House, Marks was born and raised in South Africa where she attended the University of the Witwatersrand and the Institute of Personnel Management in Johannesburg, and speaks both Afrikaans and the Xhosa language, two of the official languages of South Africa.
Rumors that Marks would be named as a U.S. ambassador were originally planted back in October when Trump reportedly informed the Palm Beach Daily News of his intentions. While no direct news of the nomination came from the White House before Wednesday's statement, in October Marks sent out a tweet that seemed to confirm she was on Trump's radar for U.S. ambassador to South Africa. Scrolling through her feed, most of the tweets are Instagram shares of her handbags or of her playing tennis — according to CNN she tried to qualify for the French Open tennis tournament in 1978 — but on Oct. 21 Marks sent out a tweet talking about living in South Africa, speaking the language, and her "background in [South African] political, economic, social, and media landscape." She wrote,
Lived in [South] Africa a third of my life; studied at Wits [University]; spoke fluent Xhosa; passed the Hoërtaalbond Eksamen in Afrikaans; background in [South African] political, economic, social & media landscape; businesswoman for 30 years; mom for 37 years; wife for 42 years; ninja, forever!!
Marks is the fourth Mar-a-Lago member to be tapped by Trump for an ambassador position, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. Other members include: Robin Bernstein, who serves as the ambassador to the Dominican Republic; Patrick Park, who Trump picked as the ambassador to Austria (but he turned it down because of family responsibilities); and Brian Burns who declined the ambassadorship to Ireland citing health reasons.
Given Trump's affinity for picking U.S. ambassadors from the Mar-a-Lago pool (literally), it's not that surprising that Marks could be next to step into a role. We'll see how it plays out with the Senate.