Everything We Know About the Former Disney Star Who Might Be the Next Hope Hicks
You may (or may not) know Caroline Sunshine as a snarky foreign exchange student on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up. Well, the 22-year-old has since traded in acting for writing press releases in the White House office where Hope Hicks worked. In her new job as a press assistant, Sunshine joins Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Lindsay Walters in the communications office of President Donald Trump.
Here we’ll give you the lowdown on Sunshine’s background, how she ended up in the White House (page 2), and why she could actually end up rising through the ranks similar to the way Hope Hicks did (page 5).
Her acting career
Sunshine is best known for her role as flashy exchange student Tinka Hessenheffer in Disney Channel’s 2010-2013 sitcom Shake It Up. On the series, she was promoted from recurring cast member on the show to a regular character. The plot centered around teen dancers in Chicago and also featured actresses Zendaya and Bella Thorne.
Sunshine also played Barbara Winslow in the 2010 family film Marmaduke and Tiffany Brand in 2015 TV movie Go Four Broke. In 2014, she appeared in Bring It On, a musical about the competitive world of cheerleading.
Next: Sunshine’s role in politics
Sunshine’s political background
Sunshine had a stint as a White House intern before landing her new press assistant job, according to White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters. Reports say Sunshine landed the internship the old-fashioned way: She applied for it online, rather than going through any show business connections.
Before the White House, Sunshine also interned for the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the College Republican National Committee, and the California Republican party.
Next: Her college days
Where she went to college
Sunshine graduated from Claremont McKenna College, a private liberal arts school in Southern California. While there, she was involved with the American Enterprise Institute and the school’s Model United Nations Team, Walters told CNN. The last time she acted was during her junior year when she played a role in the 2017 Lifetime movie Mommy, I Didn’t Do It.
Next: Her new White House role
What a press assistant does
In a few short words, it’s pretty much grunt work. Sunshine joins two other press assistants who provide administrative support to the White House communications department. This includes press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, three deputy press secretaries, and three assistant press secretaries. The press assistants send out news releases, guide reporters from place to place, and set up calls for interviews.
Next: Why she could rise through the ranks quickly
A path similar to Hope Hicks?
You might not see Sunshine standing at the White House press podium anytime soon; but then again, maybe you will. The average communications job in the president’s office seems to last shorter than a summer internship lately. For example, Anthony Scaramucci was communications director for just 11 days in 2017.
While outgoing communications director Hope Hicks was Trump’s longest-serving aide, she held at least four job titles while working in the White House and for The Trump Organization before that. With no prior political experience, Hicks rose through the ranks quickly because of her loyalty and her silence — and as they say, being pretty might help, too.
Next: More Twitter followers than her new bosses
Sunshine’s social media presence
Unlike many others in today’s administration (including Trump himself), Sunshine maintains a quiet presence on the Internet, only posting occasional tweets — the most recent of which was to wish fellow Disney star Zendaya a happy birthday in September 2017. Thanks to her stardom from Shake It Up, she’s got more followers on Twitter (501,000) than her new bosses Sarah Huckabee Sanders (182,000) and Lindsay Walters (11,000).
Next: She has plenty company among TV stars.
Other TV stars in the White House
Sunshine joins a handful of former TV stars in today’s administration. Others with cable TV backgrounds include CNBC host Larry Kudlow, chosen by Trump in March 2018 to head the White House National Economic Council. In addition, Trump has chosen former Fox News analyst John Bolton as the next national security advisor.
The highest-profile TV personality who joined the White House was Omarosa Manigault Newman, noted for her stint on Trump’s The Apprentice. She served as director of communications for the Office of Public Liasion. She stepped down at the end of 2017.
Next: What everyone in Sunshine’s new office does every day
What the communications office does
Sunshine is joining a White House office whose role is to promote the agenda of the president. This includes working on speeches such as the inaugural address and the State of the Union. It also devises a coherent strategy for communicating the president’s message to the media. Hicks became the fourth director of the office in August 2017. This followed Anthony Scaramucci (he served only 11 days), Michael Dubke, and Sean Spicer.
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