He’s named after one of the most mythic figures in American politics, but John “Jack” Kennedy Schlossberg has kept a relatively low profile over the years. But all that changed this week when he made headlines with his first red carpet at the 2017 Met Ball and first live TV appearance on NBC’s Today.
Growing up in New York City’s Upper East Side, the 24-year-old youngest child of Caroline Kennedy and Ed Schlossberg (and only grandson of JFK and Jackie Kennedy) was largely left alone by the photographers that followed his uncle John F. Kennedy Jr. from the day he was born — allowing Jack to grow up primarily outside of the public eye.
A 2015 graduate of Yale with a major in history and a concentration in Japanese history, Jack spent this past year living in Japan while his mother was serving as the U.S. ambassador. There, Jack studied the Japanese language and worked at the Suntory distillery company, where he assisted the CEO’s office with research and speechwriting.
Next year, he’ll head to Harvard Law, where his cousin — Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III — is listed among the institution’s most famous alumni. (His grandfather completed his undergraduate degree at the prestigious Ivy League school.)
Friends say Schlossberg is low-key, funny and “very much his own person” — though he’s apparently a lot like his uncle John F. Kennedy Jr., who died tragically in 1999. The two also share a remarkable family resemblance — down to that thick, sometimes wild brown hair.
“Jack is very much interested in John ,” a friend previously told PEOPLE. “He has an ease and a sense of humor. And he loves being compared to him. John was a rare kind of celebrity who grew up with being famous and had fun with it and didn’t let it take over his life.”
Added a college friend to PEOPLE in 2015: “He’s not walking around with a big sign over his head. He’s not spending a lot of time thinking about his family’s legacy. It’s something he’s proud of, but it doesn’t define him.”
Schlossberg may not be spending a lot of time thinking about his family’s legacy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not living up to it.
Sisters Rose and Tatiana have found their own paths — Rose, 28, launching a comedy web series offering women tips for surviving an apocalypse, while Tatiana, 26, reports for The New York Times. Jack has emerged as the sibling most vocal about politics, writing an essay for TIME about the Syrian refugee crisis, speaking out about climate change, and publicly supporting democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
He’s also served on the committee that chooses the recipient of the annual John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards and the annual John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Awards — the latter of which is an honor that has been given since 1989 to someone who shows an act of political courage.
Here, a recap of Jack’s fabulous week in the spotlight so far (and what’s still to come this weekend).
MONDAY: THE MET GALA
Caroline’s return to the Met Gala red carpet — and her “sphere like” oversized floral Comme Des Garcons dress — might have made made news on Monday night, but it was Jack’s red carpet debut that had many people talking.
Dressed in a simple suit and camo-patterned tie, Jack proved to be the perfect companion for his mother, who was also chairing the event. He posed with her for photographers, towering over her with his tall, slender frame.
FRIDAY: THE TODAY SHOW
On Friday, Jack and Caroline made a visit to the Today show — Jack’s first live TV interview.
It didn’t take long for Today anchors Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie to grill him about whether he’d pursue a full-time career in politics.
“I’m inspired by my family’s legacy of public service. It’s something that I’m very proud of,” Jack said. “But I’m still trying to make my own way and figure things out. So stay tuned — I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
RELATED VIDEO: JFK’s Only Grandson Makes First Live TV Appearance
Elsewhere in the chat, Jack looked back on his grandfather’s words — which he says still motivate him today.
“My favorite speech of his is his speech he gave at Rice University explaining to America we should go to the moon,” Jack confessed. “And in that speech he said that great challenges are actually great opportunities. I think that’s a really important thing to remember today for my generation when it seems like things couldn’t be any worse and we’re going to inherit a world where’s there’s a lot of unsolved problems.”
“When it seems like things couldn’t be any worse, it’s important to remember those are opportunities and we can rise to the occasion if we choose good leadership,” he said.
UPCOMING: THE PROFILE IN COURAGE AWARDS
On Sunday, Jack will host the annual John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Awards — live from the JFK Library in Boston. This year, the prize goes to former President Barack Obama, who will receive it as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s birth.
Coverage of the ceremony will be seen on MSNBC’s Hardball at 8 p.m. ET.
“Faced with unrelenting political opposition, President Obama has embodied the definition of courage that my grandfather cites in the opening lines of Profiles in Courage: ‘Grace under pressure,’ ” Jack said in a statement.
“Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity, and an unshakeable commitment to the greater good,” he continued. “On key issues during his presidency, President Obama put policy above politics — expanding health security for millions of Americans, restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, and leading a landmark international accord to combat climate change.”
He added: “Our country owes a debt of gratitude to President Obama, not just for the many important policy achievements made during his tenure, but also for the example of leadership he provided all of us, which we may draw upon in the years to come.”
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