Modeling is his ‘greatest passion’

‘Diet is kind of hard.’ Brown sweater by DBR Apparel

By Cristina DC Pastor

I wonder if it’s typical of fashion models to secretly wish they had a billboard big enough to shade Manhattan and yet secretly dread not being able to find work if they were in excess of a pound or a zit. With fashion as an industry, one can have great expectations but he can never be complacent.

Johnathan Ocampo is probably no different, but anxiety is useless even as a coping mechanism. He just goes from one runway show to another hoping his last performance leads to greater exposure and more bookings.

“I’d love to try out all kinds of work in this industry,” the commercial model from Long Island told The FilAm.

Johnathan loves his work, calls it his “greatest passion.” But he is pragmatic enough to acknowledge that a career that capitalizes on good looks and toned bodies usually has a shelf life that depends on how well one takes care of his physical assets. Despite a neverending stream of photo shoots, malls shows and other commercial appearances, he keeps his day job doing data entry for a pharmaceutical company. “Right now I’m just enjoying what I’m doing and finding what this industry has to offer,” he said.

“Modeling boosts my confidence,” said Johnathan. “I love the feeling of being recognized and acknowledged by talented and creative designers as well as the photographers in this industry.”

Modeling came by way of a 2008 pageant for men in the Philippines. The boyish-looking FilAm was easily a crowd favorite. “I have no idea that there were some directors and talent scouts who were there to see the show. Next thing I know they were already handing me out their business cards and everyone was asking for my contact information.”

Johnathan emigrated in the U.S. as a teenager. His parents separated when he was still a baby, and he was raised by an aunt and a grandmother. On turning 16, he joined his father and his new family in New York. He was initially undecided about coming to the U.S. but realized he could help his relatives in the Philippines if he finished schooling in the U.S. and found a decent-paying job. He graduated from Hunter Business School.

While youth is an obvious advantage in modeling, Johnathan maintains the regimen of a proper diet with plenty of fluids, complete rest and spending a lot of time at the gym. “The diet is kind of hard but us models have to be in a really good shape in case we need to wear swimwear and summer outfits,” he said.

FilAm designer Darius Gibbs of DBR Apparel gave Johnathan his break. “He is the first designer I walked for in New York,” said Johnathan. He has since modeled for Filipino and American designers, such as Sumbul Rizvi of Sumbul’s Collection, Dannelle Dungca of One 10 Collection, Elena Vasilevsky of Elena V. Designs and Gerald Lawson of Dhengi Brand Clothing. His dream is to be signed by one of the top agencies in New York, hit the billboards and glossy covers.

“I’ve always dreamed of modeling for Calvin Klein and Bench,” said Johnathan. “Only few are given the opportunity to wear their designs. Whatever they ask me to wear, I will have no complaint.”

A good facial expression is an important part of the job, he said. Not too smile-y, but not too angry either. The facial expression should not distract from the clothes on display. If he walks with less swing in the arms and an erect posture, it’s all those years of ramp work. Johnathan said modeling is more profitable for women than men because of the variety of products – makeup, clothing, accessories, etc. — women could promote, whereas male models are cast mostly in liquor promos.

There is hardly a downtime for Johnathan, who appears to be in the prime of his modeling career. He looks forward to a November show for a community event, the details still being finalized. “I love being a model, all I can do is be humble and be thankful,” he said.

At New York Fashion Week. Black and white ensemble by Dannelle Dungca of One 10 Collection


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Ms. Pastor, thanks for your insight into the world of a Fill Am model ways of life.

  2. Kate Pentek wrote:

    I have had the fortune of walking with Johnathan. He has everything it takes: the looks, a great walk and expression, and most of all, he is a nice person to all. Someone should snap him up before he becomes a super model!

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