It would be simple to dismiss Amber Lee “Obama Girl” Ettinger if all you had were those billions of two-dimensional online images. But at 26, she’s incredibly astute. She knows what she wants. She understands the value of capitalizing now. And she’s found a cute and clever sidekick.
Watchers of the weekly online show, “ 2 Girls 2 Minutes ,” are treated to Amber and Kelly Brady drinking wine and opining on the news of the day. Now and then, they have a special guest. Last week, they had a pillow fight.
Sure, easy to stereotype — when you haven’t met her.
Then you spend time around Ettinger and realize: This Pennsylvania ex-pat has it all figured out (no pun intended).
She has only so much time to cash in on the natural gifts God gave her — combined with a business sense instilled by her mom — so she’s making it work. No ego, no hubris. Just dedication.
“I’ve known since I was a little girl what I wanted to do with my life,” Ettinger told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “I knew I was coming to New York to attend college, be a fashion designer and be in entertainment — modeling, acting, singing, dancing.
“I got my degree from FIT, I’ve been modeling and acting steadily since graduation and I’m also working on my album — slowly but surely,” she said. It’s tentatively titled “Queen of the Web.”
There’s her Web site, of course: AmberLeeOnline
There are also four (count ’em) Facebook pages.
And there are the recordings she’s made in the wake of “Obama Girl” ‘s shot to fame. For samples, go to Amber’s MySpace page
Ettinger even took time to produce a special contest for CLIFFVIEW PILOT: AMBER ALERT
But the FIT grad’s weekly romp with Kelly is where she completely lets loose. The pair talk current events as they see ’em — and what they don’t know, they’ll fudge.
They sample various wines as they go, providing their personal assessments of the vino, answering viewer questions about relationships, getting looser as they go.
Yes, “ Crush on Obama ” opened doors for Ettinger.
But it’s not the be-all and end-all — 16 million-plus hits on that clever initial video notwithstanding. Ettinger has produced at least 30 videos since then and continues to keep busy modeling and auditioning.
In the “chew-’em-up-spit-’em-out” whirl of fame, those 3 minutes and 18 seconds got her interviews on major network news programs, spreads in Playboy and Penthouse (NOT naked), a guest appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” and selection as E!s “Hottest Woman on the Web.”
It also saddled her with a nickname that she has managed to shed a lot easier than many might have thought.
The idea for Amber and Kelly’s online program sprung from a radio blog they called “Access New York.”
“We thought it would be more fun to have our show on YouTube so that we can interact with fans through live chat and comments,” Ettinger told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .
They then take two minutes worth of highlights from the shows and post them as “2Girls2Minutes.”
There’s plenty of girly gossip, of course, as well as advice for the lovelorn (“Just ask her out!”). But Amber and Kelly will just as deftly slip into dead-on observations of the Popularity Machine and the ways it can crush someone who isn’t ready for it.
Besides an EP available on ITUNES, Ettinger creates and markets the jewelry line, “Inspired by Amber,” with “the biggest inspiration in my whole life,” her mom, an author and vintage clothing and jewelry collector who still lives back home. There’s also the incredibly popular “Amber Lee Online,” which collects all the best of photos, videos, TV appearances and more.
This includes her hilarious parody of Sarah Palin, in which you can hear the studio crew on “Geraldo” cracking up — and with good reason:
Not bad for an Army brat who’d already seen quite a bit of the world by the time she’d entered her teens.
” ‘Crush on Obama’ came out June 13, 2007 and my life turned all sorts of crazy after that,” she said. “At the time, Obama was polling at about 11% and not many people even knew who he was.
“I was thrust into this political world that I wasn’t familiar with, being put on every news show in the world and being asked questions like: Who put you up to this?”
The truth: Someone else had written and recorded the song, and they needed an angel as the face (and other parts) of the video. Ettinger thought little of it when the deal fell into her lap.
If she’d even suspected it would lead anywhere, she said, “I’d have at least done something with my hair” the day she and the film crew hit Central Park and the New York City subway, where she danced with anyone willing to join her.
“Honestly, I’m most proud the video inspired some people to get out there and vote and become more involved in politics,” Ettinger said, seriously. Of course, it’s hard for her not to crack up when she adds: “I’m in the history books now!”
Besides hoarding scores of lip balm, one of Hudson County’s best-known figures has this thing for big sunglasses — huge, as in Hazmat-suit-driving-through-plutonium glasses. Add a scarf or floppy hat and she can pretty much move through the various shops and stores along River Road unnoticed. Now and then, she and Kelly will even hit Target before a show.
Meantime, Ettinger is still doing live appearances at various nightspots, drawing huge crowds anxious to score an autograph and, of course, nail a pic with a bona fide celebrity. She’s done a couple of national commercials, as well, but otherwise reserves treasured time for quieter moments away from the high wattage, when she can chill with those she cares for most and pamper her dog, Kia.
“I feel like the luckiest girl in the world,” Ettinger says, looking out her wrap-around windows at the Manhattan skyline.
“The glistening water — OK, I know it’s the Hudson River, but it’s still an amazing sight. The view here is spectacular….It’s great to live in NYC and I have done it, but you can’t see this when your living in it. It’s pretty quiet over here, and it takes me 10 minutes to get into the city. It’s perfect.”
Right now, Ettinger is awaiting word following some auditions in L.A.
“I haven’t heard anything yet,” she told CLIFFVIEW PILOT Saturday night, while catering to party-goers during a small gathering at her riverfront condo. “I’m just waiting to hear. Keep your fingers crossed.”
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