“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I’m back! Firstly, I want to express a huge thanks to everyone who congratulated me on my anniversary. May 9th marked the day I signed my first modeling agency contract in Los Angeles, California. I received about a dozen emails with questions about my achievements, shortcomings, and lessons learned in my first year. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on several projects in such a short period. I am also grateful for the friendships I have developed along the way. My model vocabulary has also expanded: Bookings, Print Audition, Casting, Body Check, Implied Nude, Composite Card, to name a few.

Like many times before, I am writing you from my home away from home… the courtyard of Saint Francis Chapel at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California (As though sitting here magically calls me to writing). I am apparently not the only one who is inspired by the grandeur of the courtyard. As I sat here I was interrupted by a gentlemen who asked me what he should write as vows to his fiancée. I simply replied, “Tell her everything you’ve been wanting to tell her since you met her” I’m no good at stuff like that, so good luck sir.

So, which male model has made the biggest impact on me this year? Choosing one is very difficult since I read  a bit about several male models over the last year with hopes to learn from their career path. But if I have to choose one, I will choose one whose story I found the most profound and motivating. So who is it? I have chosen Djimon Diaw Hounsou.

Djimon Diaw Hounsou is an Academy Award nominated actor and model for Calvin Klein. Djiamon is most known for his appearances in the movies ‘Gladiator’, ‘Amastad’, ‘In America’ and ‘Blood Diamond’. Djimon is one of very few Africans embraced by well-known fashion photographers in Paris and, later in his career, abroad. He is also a passionate speaker in the fight against climate change and works with charities such as SOS and Oxfam.

What I find most interesting about Djiamon’s background is his upbringing. Djiamon was born in Cotonou, Benin (West Africa) to Ibertine and Pierre Hounsou. Mr. Hounsou describes his childhood as lonely. In an April 2012 interview with SPYGhana News, Djiamon said, ““I was just a very torn child, very wounded in so many areas, with no family support,” His parents left him at an early age as they moved to the Ivory Coast. At the age of 10 he met his father for the first time and at the age of 13 he moved to Paris to live with his oldest brother. There, the hardships continued. Djiamon recalls wandering the streets of London at night looking for food to eat. He wished so desperately to escape his surroundings.

And now the world knows where Djiamon has landed today. I first became aware of Djiamon Hounsou’s background after it was announced in 2007 that he was to become Calvin Klein’s new underwear model. Beginning in Fall 2007, Djiamon was featured as the face for Calvin Klein’s new global print advertising campaign which included the launch of the new Calvin Klein Steel collection. The relationship between the brand and model has been rather remarkable and quite controversial. The ebony skinned model blankets the side of a 27 story building overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. And his appearance in billboards and magazines had raised discussions about how black subjects are presented in publications.

So, Djiamon Hounsou has become an inspiration to me because he breaks the racial barriers when it comes to what were used to seeing in fashion publications. He is one of very few black male models to be featured as the face of a well known brand and one of a very tiny group to be featured on the front cover of fashion magazines and storefronts. He was one of the first models who reflected me and others who look like me in editorial spreads. The current modeling industry and front covers are dominated by “ethnically ambiguous” european models who look nothing like me. And Djiamon gave me hope that I too (with dark skin) could someday become the face of a brand.

Lately, I have been in Orange County, California shooting a TV series pilot. I have also been spending a great deal of time in Hollywood shooting with photographer Ray John Pila and working my new campaign. I had wanted to engage in an editorial campaign, and finally did a shoot in El Matador Beach for a European line. I can finally show the photos in a few weeks. So, stay tuned.

  1. Andrej says:

    Happy you’re back, we missed you D’Andre! But now we know you were filming. I like very much the story of Djiamon and I really hope that you will also contribute to the diversification of the world of fashion which is too uniform.

    • It feels good to be back. I’m happy to be able to reconnect with the audience and it is encouraging that I was missed. You are absolutely right about diversification in the world of fashion. It is a topic I plan to visit soon.

  2. Gov Davis says:

    I am aware of Mr Hounsou’s acting career, but I was not aware of the challenges he overcame prior to “making it”. Thanks for the lesson; very interesting and inspiring to say the least. Congratulations on your endeavors and keep up the great work!
    Gov D

    • Thanks for reading Gov. Very few people are aware of his struggles as an individual. His experiences as a youth and young adult may play a huge part in his abilities as an actor. As we both know he has played some very serious/emotional roles in film. It is my opinion that he channels his real life experience towards building characters that are believable and relatable.

  3. Curtis says:

    Lovely to have you back. I’m @teanace on twitter lovely piece hey not only do you bring out the story of Djiamon but also a sense of humility instilled in you. You inspire me

    • Welcome back to you as well Curtis. Yes, I admit, I had not been around for quite some time. I’m glad to know that you had been checking back from time to time and I am grateful for that. Thank you for the kind words. I look foward to having more discussions with you and other followers here and on twitter.

      Tell me, what is it you would like to see me talk about next?

  4. Jessica says:

    This is amazing, D’Andre. So much of what you shared tells us you continue to grow exponentially. Keep learning and embracing new experiences. God bless you and your career to thrive!

  5. Wally G says:

    Keep up the fantastic work, D’Andre Lampkin! Glad you were able to find solid inspiration in your new and exiting endeavor; that’s critically important. Again, keep kickin’ ass & takin’ names!

    • My friend Walter. Thanks to you for your suppor. Djimon truly is an inspiration. Not only did he overcome adversity in his upbringing, but obstacles in his follownig career. I’m glad that there are still people in 2007 (I’m still looking for more recent examples) of people who believe a black African, African American, or anyone of dark complexion is capable and deserving of being the face of a major brand such as Calvin Klein.

      Who will top it next? Only time will tell.

  6. URL says:

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  7. Rahni Porter says:

    From the Prep to greatness! Congrats D’Andre!

    I believe this is my 2nd time reading this post and I realize I didn’t comment on this article and your success. Shame on me!

    Anywho, I am excited to see you continuing to break down the racial barriers that are still present in the modeling and entertainment industries. It is a true connection;you are very much like Mr. Honsu in this way. Not only is your journey an interesting one to see, but you are a great writer as well! Win,Win!

    • Hey Rahni. It’s comments like these that keep me looking forward to sharing. I look forward to readers thoughts and it helps me know which direction to go in. It appears that a lot of readers are interested in knowing my views on race as it relates to the modeling industry. The topic received its fair share of attention in my email so I plan to address this topic in my next blog post.

  8. Shy Todman says:

    How do you stay so focused on the task at hand, as far as working hard and even harder on reaching your goal, what tips or tricks do you use to help you overcome your obstacles if you have any?

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