[Y]ears back, Don Benjamin applied for a job at the Guess Store and was rejected. Now he’s on billboards everywhere as the star of the brand’s latest campaign. It’s a lesson in perseverance and positivity – something the LA living, Minnesota-born model can teach us a thing or two about.
Getting his first break in the industry on America’s Next Top Model back in 2013, he has since carved a unique path for himself based around his three main passions – fashion, music and social media.
In between signing with Wilhelmina Models and travelling the world as an influencer, Don is a musician and rapper who has released several singles and is currently recording his debut album. If you’re one of his 1.9 million Instagram followers then you’ll also be familiar with the cheeky comedy skits he makes with girlfriend and fellow influencer, Liane V. How he finds time for it all, we don’t know. We recently caught up with him to talk Insta success, travel and staying camera ready.
Hey Don, how did you get started as a model?
I got my break on America’s Next Top Model in 2013 then signed to Wilhelmina after the show aired.
Did you get to know Tyra?
I didn’t get to know Tyra really, she was kinda in and out after she shot her scenes but was really cool while she was around. The experience was fun but stressful being a competition. But overall I had a great time.
What’s been the most exciting campaign you’ve worked on so far?
It has to be my Guess campaign. A few years ago I was without a job looking for work and applied at Guess and didn’t get the job. Fast forward to today and I’m one of their main male models.
You’ve built a huge following on Instagram - what do you think are some of the secrets to building your followers on there?
Definitely staying consistent with posting. And finding something that interests people and stick to it.
Are there any part of your life that you aren’t willing to share on there?
I try to give my followers a bit of everything. I want my fans to be able to connect with me as much as possible.
Your girlfriend Liane is also a social media influencer and you guys create sketches together - are you both camera ready at all times, and how is the experience of working & living together?
Yeah we try to stay camera ready because you never know. We love working together it’s super easy and fun and we vibe well.
Outside of fashion, you are also a rapper and producer - what can we expect from your music?
I have a few singles out right now on iTunes, Soundcloud etc. Search Don Benjamin and they will all come up. I also have an EP dropping soon so I’m super excited about! A lot of new music and shows on the way as well!
What’s been the most outrageous moment in your career?
It has to be traveling the world seeing countries I never thought I would have seen and people knowing me world wide – still blows my mind!
The most challenging thing about working in the fashion and music industries?
The most challenging thing is getting people to respect the music and understand I’ve been doing it long before the modelling. It’s growing slowly but surely.
What advice do you have for aspiring models?
Study, study, study. Work on your appearance and your body movement and mind. Because you will have to deal with constant criticism. And have to know how to pose when you get in front of the camera, no excuses!