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Style, innovation & equality

The reluctant model’s journey from deprived suburb to historical commercial for Rolls-Royce — as their first model of colour

A shopping trip to Stockholm turned Roger Dupé’s life upside down.

Words: Johan Magnusson

Dupé’s coming book ”The Reluctant Model” (”Den motvilliga modellen”) describes two sides of the model industry.

— Most of my experience has been positive, to be honest. I have been living in different countries around the world, travelling and met amazing people during my journey. It gives you the chance to get inspired by many different people with different backgrounds, visit diverse places, cultures and also bring you a fashion career all over the world — if you reach higher levels. he says, adding,

— To work as a model isn’t always like it's appeared in the media and society. There it is brought very glamorous and luxurious, but actually it’s kind of a hustle with dark sides as well with unhealthy ideals, hierarki, sexual abuse and such.

He describes himself as a perfectionist, who likes organisation and structure, and a kind and grounded person, who rather keep it private and personal and prioritizing a close relationship with friends and family.

— For me, creativity is an important way of expression, whether it's about interior design, cooking, art or sports.

Born in 1991 in a suburb of Västerås, Sweden, called Bäckby, he spent a majority of his childhood on the soccer field.

— Like in many other families in the neighbourhood, my parents left their native countries, Togo and Ghana, for a brighter future in Sweden, he explains. The soccer field was a place where I found my best friends and dared to dream big. My goal was to become a pro and play for a big international team.

During a shopping trip in Stockholm, that all changed.

— I was stopped by two people who turned out to be talent scouts for a model agency. They promptly asked me if I wanted to be a model. The thought of becoming a model had never struck me, but I gave it a shot. I have been working as a full-time model for 9 years since then.

This also connects with the book title.

— My dream was not to become a model, it just happened and I took the opportunity, to get over the football dream. It was really hard to accept for myself not accomplishing my football dreams. But things went better than I could ever dream of, he says, continuing,

— The book is an autobiography about my life and story. It will tell you how I became the first Swedish black male model that succeeded in the fashion industry and the background to it. Many people have seen my face on big campaigns, billboards and commercials but they don’t know my story and how my journey started. So, basically it's time for me to share my story, and let people get inspired and bring more diversity to the industry.

Over the years, Dupé has landed big jobs in the industry for clients like Vogue, GQ, Brioni, and H&M. When he was announced the first model of colour for Rolls-Royce three years ago, the headlines were big.

— It was a historical commercial and it’s still my best memory — clearly a hard one to beat. I’m really proud of that job, he states.

What are your feelings for the industry now, almost a decade after beginning your career?

— To be able to live of my modelling life for such a long time is a blessing and I am very thankful for that. But things that need to be improved is the diversity in the whole industry. Not just, as we can see, because it’s a ”trend” to use ethnical models for the moment.