Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Downer on the rise

Published:Monday | July 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
SAINT model Jermaine Downer
SAINT model Jermaine Downer
SAINT model Jermaine Downer
SAINT model Jermaine Downer
Jermaine Downer JD for Wales Bonner Spring/Summer 2017 runway show in London
Jermaine Downer JD for Wales Bonner Spring/Summer 2017 runway show in London
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For nineteen-year-old Jermaine Downer, the life of an international superstar model was not something he envisioned himself doing five years ago. Call it luck or divine intervention, but who would have thought the petite young lad from Banana Lane, Spanish Town, would be jet-setting throughout Europe to model for some of the most prestigious fashion designers in the world.

"Growing up, I heard that my head was too big for my body. I was constantly bullied and developed a number of self-image issues," said Downer. To combat these problems, he realised that he needed help. "I started going to my guidance counsellor at Penwood High School, which helped a lot, and even joined the drama club because I always aspired to be an actor," he explained.

Three years ago, at age 16, Downer decided to enter the Penwood High School modelling competition as a joke. "I was never serious about the competition, It was something that was fun for me," stated Downer. To his surprise, he came in third and was well received by the crowd. Little did he know that seated among the audience was a model talent scout from Saint International Jamaica Limited. "This short man walked into the classroom and gave me a business card, told me to give him a call, and the next thing I know I was in front of Deiwght Peters," he said. He felt like the luckiest person in the world.

The youngest son of nine is known for overcoming several adversities in his life. Raised by a single mother until he was three years old and she was murdered. "My aunt took me in and moved me to Tower Hill in Kingston," said Downer. His unsteady start in life has not only fuelled his passion to succeed, but has kept him humble throughout his journey.

In 2016, he was named the international model of the year and by 2017, he was crowned as the face of the Caribbean. He is currently signed to Why Not Models in Milan, MP Models in Paris, Storm Models in London and Wilhelmina Models in New York.

His most recent expeditions include performing exceptionally well at the just-concluded Paris Men's Fashion Week Spring-Summer 2019, menswear presentations where he did runway duties for three designers in France. He has also shot editorials for Vogue Hommes, POP, Self Service, Client, Zinc, W and V magazines.

Modelling with Saint International Jamaica Limited has given Downer the opportunity to experience different cultures, people and places that he would never have the chance to do on his own. "I was able to meet and work on the same set with celebrities such as Robert Pattinson from Twilight. To this day, I cannot believe that I got recognition from him," said a starstruck Downer.

He expressed immense gratitude to founder and CEO of Saint International, Deiwght Peters for finding him and helping him to become the success he is today. "A lot of times I would skip training and Deiwght would have to call me to find out what was going on. Majority of the time, I did not have the bus fare to go, and he told me not to worry about it, he will pay for it, all he wanted me to do was show up. He saw something that no one else saw in me. He said I have talent and that gave me hope," said an emotional Downer.

Before every catwalk, Downer's routine includes talking to God first because nothing would be possible without Him. He admits that this is usually the only preparation he does prior to every show. "Usually, we get to see the runway before the show. On the night, I envision the runway before I go on and think of how I am going to slay," he laughed.

The key to his success is to never stop fighting for what he wants to achieve for himself. "If you don't take the first step, someone else is going to take it for you," stated Downer.

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com