You may not know his name, but he’s soon to be a household name. British-born Sam Sarpong is juggling two films, three spokesperson gigs, a music tour and a modeling career.
We talked from the set of Trigger in which he plays a street hustler, a 180-degree opposite of his persona. ”I was cast as a thug, but I’m a nice guy whose parents attended Cambridge University.” Sam’s been in the U.S. 15 years and his British accent is long gone.
Also shooting No Weapons Formed Against Us,” Sam portrays a detective raising his daughter. “One movie I play a clean cut guy and the other I play a drug dealer. Some days, I go back and forth to shoot both films. You just kind of do it.”
While struggling as an actor, designer Tommy Hilfiger spotted him on a TV series. “I never had any inkling to model, but always liked fashion and was a trendsetter in school.” Seven meetings later, he signed with the famed designer and walked his runaway for six years. He’s currently a spokesperson for Gsus Syndistries and Jean Phillipe. The model was the first African American to walk the runway for Louis Vuitton.
“No one cares about male models. He jokes, “How many can you name? Everyone knows the females!” Proudly, he can add Versace, Gucci, Gautier, and DKNY to his credits.
But recently, he had to gain weight for his breakout role in Anchor Baby. “I had to put on 20 pounds.” Most would do it with cheeseburgers and beer. Not Sam. “I did protein shakes and worked out with trainer Natalie Retano for three months.”
His relatives saw the Anchor Baby trailer and asked when he would appear, as he was unrecognizable. That made him happy; he knew he did a good job. (The film showed at the Cannes Film Fest and is winning various awards.)
“Taking the weight off was easy; I was able to do it in six weeks. I didn’t do anything special. I am of African descent and am naturally thin.”
At the L.A. premiere of Anchor Baby last week, he was styled by Rock Star and Angels, who signed him to do a limited tee shirt.
Sam’s sister, June Sarpong, is a popular British TV presenter. She received an MPE from Prince Charles, works with Tony Blair and is the celebrity face for Prince Charles’s charity. “If June was in town, I would have been able to meet the Royals.”
He just released a single called “Fire.” Next month, he’s doing a European tour sponsored by the Fashionaires, called Muzik of tha Future Tour.
With 60 films and a variety of TV show credits, he’s also hosting a series documentary about the L.A. Sparks on the Africa Channel. He will also shoot Lives of the Saints with Meg Ryan and 50 Cent.
In October, Sam jets to Toronto to model in L’Oreal Fashion Week. “Models are suffering like the rest of the world. People want a Beyonce as their spokesperson. Matthew McConaughey is doing Dolce; James Franco is doing Gucci.”
One thing is for sure; he’ll be best dressed on Oscar night.
Sue Facter runs a news agency that specializes in luxury brand development. Her credits include USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Women’s Day Australia.