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Posted at 08:45 PM ET, 10/18/2011

Chelsea Clinton steps into spotlight — but what does she want?

Chelsea Clinton and Michael Kahn at the Harman Center for the Arts gala Monday night. (Margot Schulman)

Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea! Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton spent years shunning the spotlight, Garbo-like, and rarely speaking in public. Now suddenly, she’s everywhere — and it seems like she’s gearing up for something. But what?

Last month, she started a Facebook page and interviewed her mother onstage at the Clinton Global Initiative. Days later, Barry Diller’s media company IAC announced Chelsea was joining its board — a sweet part-time gig ($50,000 a year plus $250,000 in stock) for 31-year-old doctoral student.

On Saturday, it was Chelsea, not Hillary, who walked onstage with Bill at his 65th birthday concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The three Clintons sat together for the show; we think we spotted Chelsea’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky , a few rows back. “A highlight of tonight was meeting Lady Gaga backstage — her combination of creativity, intelligence and activism are inspiring,” Chelsea wrote on Facebook.

Chelsea Clinton at George Washington University on Tuesday. (Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)
On Monday, she was in D.C. as the star attraction — eclipsing Patrick Stewart, Stacy Keach and Kelly McGillis — at the black-tie Shakespeare Theatre tribute to Michael Kahn’s 25 years with the company. She saw “Romeo and Juliet” as a Sidwell Friends freshman and discovered a “sanctuary”, she told the audience; the plays gave her a way to think about good and bad, noble and ignoble, great and ugly amid the swirl of real-world politics. “It enabled me, in a very strange way, to have somewhat of a normal upbringing, and for that I am profoundly grateful.”

On Tuesday, Chelsea appeared in T-shirt, and jeans (and simple jewelry: wedding band, but not engagement ring) for George Washington University’s “Phones for Hope” drive, which recycles cellphones for African health-care projects. She tried to cut off GW president Steven Knapp’s flowery introduction for her — “I get embarrassed,” she told the crowd — then urged students to emulate her father’s call to public service: “Everyone who wants to make a difference can — and should.”

All her appearances are carefully stage-crafted and controlled: Chelsea was unwilling to speak to any reporters at the gala; only ABC’s Juju Chang was granted a prearranged interview (“I’m allowed to ask about the hope phones, right?” Chang asked the handler) at the GW event; all other media was shooed away.

So Chelsea’s finally talking — but not revealing a thing. Stay tuned.

Read earlier: Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky wedding details,, 8/10/10

Chelsea Clinton: Too Solemn for Her Generation?, 5/4/08
Chelsea Clinton finds her voice, 4/10/08

By  |  08:45 PM ET, 10/18/2011

Categories:  Politics

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