Interview: Don Benjamin

From the interview archives.

Don Benjamin first graced TV screens appearing as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, and has since then become a highly sought after face for fashion, most noteworthy perhaps being his campaign for Guess. VULKAN caught up with Don to talk about how the show propelled his career not only in modelling, but acting and music as well, and how he’s been adjusting to life in the spotlight. You can catch Don appearing in the upcoming films Judgement and 3AM in Hollywood.

Your appearance on America’s Next Top Model really seemed to open a lot of doors for you in modelling and film as well as to grow your following for your music. Was that the goal when you first signed on? 

Yes, I really wanted to use it as a platform to get me in the door to showcase all my talents.

Do you think you’d have these opportunities if you hadn’t been cast on the show? 

I feel like as long as I was grinding an opportunity would come my way to take me to the next level. But that was the one that came first and I’m thankful for it.

What was the biggest misconception you had about modelling prior to landing your first campaign? 

Top Model definitely made it seem more stressful than it really has been. Everyone who tends to work with us [are] very nice and make you feel comfortable instead of being down your throats and putting a ton of pressure on you. 

On that same note, what do you think is the biggest misconception your followers have about you?

I feel like a lot of people that follow me may feel I’m stuck up or not that down to earth based off the conception of most models, but I try to give them a range of things to showcase personality and motive when I can as well. 

What do you think is the worst way to use social media? 

I think the worst way to use social media is to promote negative things, rather it be drugs, violence, sex, drama. I feel like it’s a platform to motivate people and spread more positivity and give hope. 

What’s the most annoying part about keeping up a social media presence?

I guess for me it’s letting people into your life so much to where they feel they really know you.  

What do you feel has been the biggest tragedy of 2017 and what do you think we as a society should be doing to raise awareness or create positive change?

Man there’s so many where do I start, smh. The hurricanes have been horrible, the president is doing a horrible job, the racism. I think we just need to really try to encourage the world to come together more and be one no matter what the situation. 

You were a musician before anything else, how have your other career paths aided your music career?

It’s definitely brought more awareness to the music. I’m able to cross promo songs with brands and events and shows and get the music to another level.

Who do you want to collaborate with today?

I would love to collab with Bruno Mars.

What do you think is the worst song on the radio right now?

I can’t stand the song that says they wish they were dead lol not sure of the artist or the title but everytime I hear it I turn it off. Kinda creeps me out.

I read that you and your girlfriend are always “camera ready.” What’s that process like every day and… isn’t it exhausting sometimes? What does the non-camera ready Don Benjamin look/dress like?

Hahaa I like to dress nice regardless so that doesn’t bother too much but it’s more the days I’m sick or being affected by something and I need to go out to grab something but still have to look somewhat presentable in case a fan asks for a pic. I think more making sure I have a decent hair cut. It’s a bit easier for guys then girls lol

At the end of it all, what do you most hope you’re able to accomplish with your reach? What do you want your legacy to be?

I just want to be recognized for my talents and show that it is possible to reach your ultimate goals with the right amount of work and faith in God combined. My father wanted to be a famous model and actor and didn’t get a chance to do it so I want to live it out for him and carry on his legacy. 

What can you tell us about your upcoming horror film “Judgement” and your role in it? 

I play the black guy in it haha. It’s a concept about a group of friends coming back from Vegas when their car breaks down and a pastor helps them out for the night. Comes to find out the pastor is screwed up in the head and thinks he was out here to clean the world of sin. Going to be a great movie I don’t want to give to much away haha.

You’ll also be appearing as Immaculate in “3AM in Hollywood.”

Oh yeah I play a famous musician in that project. Smaller guest role but it was fun.

What was the craziest night you’ve ever experienced in Hollywood?

Man, too many to remember lol. Back before I really built a name for myself me and my friends would lie to the bouncer and say I was an artist, ok young money, and it got us into a lot of major parties. That’s something I will never forget. 

A lot of things can happen late night in Hollywood which of course is part of its appeal for many. What advice would you give newcomers to the scene?

Just be aware of your surroundings and if you are trying to make a lasting impression try to get in with the right promoters.

What’s the most difficult part about keeping up your lifestyle? 

I think balance. There’s only so much time in a day and with so many goals prioritizing what I’m going to do each day can get difficult. Along with spending time with friends and family and time for myself as well.

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