Early life, family, educational background
American model, musician and actor Don Benjamin was born on 5 May 1987, in Chicago, Illinois, USA, making him a Taurus. Don’s mother raised him and his sister, Brooke initially in Chicago, but they then moved to and lived in Florida, Mississippi, and Minneapolis Minnesota, where Don attended Brooklyn Center High School – he played basketball and was their captain until he matriculated.
He is possibly best known for his 2018 reality show, “Shirtless Cheffin’ with Don Benjamin” and 2022’s “North of the 10.” He is also working on growing his music career.
Who is Liane Valenzuela?
Liane Valenzuela – professionally known as Liane V – was born on 22 August 1986, making her a Leo, the youngest daughter of her Filipino immigrant parents, who raised Liane and her siblings in Modesto, California. She began taking dancing and singing classes from a young age, and quickly realized that a career in the entertainment industry was what she wanted to do. While in high school, she played basketball, was a cheerleader, and participated in gymnastics. When Liane was 18, she told her parents that instead of attending university like her older sisters, she wanted to move to Los Angeles and become an actress or model.
Her parents weren’t happy to hear this news, and didn’t support her decision, but Liane insisted until they compromised, ‘OK. We’ll treat this like a college. Go to L.A., and we’ll give it a few years, and if things don’t start going forward then you need to go to college.’ She agreed; when she got to Los Angeles, Liane took a daytime job at a car dealership located in Burbank. During the nights and over the weekends, she took dance and acting classes, went for auditions, sang back-up, and hosted red-carpet interviews for smaller sites. ‘I was really just trying to get my feet wet in the industry,’ she added, because this was circa 2006, social media was not yet a thing, and definitely not as much of the helpful tool it is today, ‘… it was just the work that you put in and showed your face.’
Nine years later, Liane started a YouTube channel and then opened a Vine account just after the app came onto the scene. Ironically, the first Vine she posted was a comedic video of her tied-up boyfriend (not played by Don) in the trunk of her car after cheating on her. She continued to post comedy skits to her Vine, and eventually her account exploded, and she began receiving offers for brand deals. Once she received her paycheck for a four-figure deal, she decided to quit her day job, ‘… I was working at the car dealership for a week and didn’t even make this kind of money.’ When Vine shut down in 2017, her followers moved over to her Instagram and/or her YouTube channel, where she turned her focus away from comedy and posted beauty content.
That was also the year that Guess? co- founder Paul Marciano approached her, and offered to collaborate with her on a collection for their G by Guess? line. The pair first met in Italy while attending a catwalk show, and he loved her personality, fashion sense, and ideas. Liane appreciated that a large majority of the models they hire are Instagram models, showing that he knew the importance of social media. She has also teamed up with The Far Eastern Movement, together planning, filming and releasing the fitness video entitled “Workout with Liane V,” which was well-received by her followers, but wasn’t commercially successful otherwise.
She now works on Liane V Beauty which she founded – Liane offers vegan-friendly silk lashes, and is continuously growing the brand to add more products and aspects. She wants the public to know that although she gained her fame through Vine and posting media online, it’s not an ‘easy’ job, ‘A misconception people have for us influencers is that they think it’s easy, and it’s not. You’re literally your own business and people don’t understand. They’re like, ‘Oh, you just shoot stupid for fun.’ It’s not. It’s a lot of work,’ she clarifies.
Years ago, Don applied for a job at a Guess? store, but did not get it; today, he’s one of their main male models. In 2005, Don made the big move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in modeling and music. His debut song, “Across the Sky” was released in 2012.
In 2013, he was seen in “America’s Next Top Model” – his first appearance was in the episode “Meet the Guys and Girls of Cycle 20,” and his last episode was entitled “The Guy Who Has a Panic Attack,” from which Don left after being eliminated, and therefore achieving eighth place. Don was close friends with Marvin and Renee in the house, so they were quite devastated when he had to leave the show.
Following this appearance, he was signed by Wilhelmina Models who have offices in London, Miami, New York and Los Angeles. In an interview with Hunger published on 1 June 2017, he briefly spoke about meeting Tyra Banks in “America’s Next Top Model,” revealing that the cast didn’t see much of her outside of the scenes they filmed together, but she seemed like a nice person from what he could tell. Other than that, the entire experience was, ‘fun but stressful.’ His best advice for aspiring models is to constantly study trends and other models, practice poses, and ‘work on your appearance, body movement and mind.’
Don wrote and starred in “Welcome to Zombieland;” he played Zombieland King in the 2012 short musical. His TV debut was as Avery in a 2014 episode of “One Ten,” entitled, “A Mother’s Love,” and that year also marked his film debut in the thriller “Matthew 18,” as Nathan. The following year, Don appeared in the drama movie entitled “Supermodel,” as well as an episode each of “Minay TV” and “The Insider.”
Don has acted in music videos for Iggy Azalea and Keyshia Cole, but his most prominent role in a music video was in 2016 for Ariana Grande’s song “Into You,” in which he portrays the singer’s love interest. They filmed the video on April 30th that year, and took 18 hours to shoot, but Don didn’t mind because he was already used to long filming hours thanks to “America’s Next Top Model.” The video was produced by London Alley Entertainment and Brandon Bonfiglio, and was directed by Hannah Lux Davis. Following the video’s release on May 24th, fans were flooding the internet to find out if their on-screen chemistry was more than just acting, and although Don admitted, ‘[Ariana’s] a great kisser,’ he also made it clear that they are not dating in real life. Of course, he was actually already dating his now wife, Liane, at the time, but he did not share that information yet. What he was willing to share, is that Ariana included easter eggs in her music video, but he was not very forthcoming with what they were or what they hinted at. Don shared that although he appreciates the roles and enjoys the play interest in music videos, he would rather be putting out his own music, and collaborating with artists on songs, rather than in their videos, ‘… maybe one day me and Ariana will be doing a song together.’.
By 2017, Don was working on his debut album, having already released several singles. In October 2022, his top five songs on Spotify are “Touch My Body,” “Enough,” “Jealous,” “Tonight,” and “No One,” which features his wife, Liane V. That March, he made a guest appearance on MTV’s “Wild ‘N Out,” hosted by Nick Cannon. He also appeared in season one, episode one of the game show “Hip Hop Squares,” competing against fellow American model Tyson Beckford.
That didn’t end his list of game shows in 2017; Don was also a contestant on VH1’s horror competition show, “Scared Famous,” competing again nine other reality television stars such as Tiffany ‘New York’ Pollard, Eva Marcille (the winner of “America’s Next Top Model”’s third cycle), Alaska Thunderfuck from “RuPaul’s Drag Race, and others. Don survived the haunted house, thereby making him the winner – he donated his $100,000 prize money to Peace Over Violence, an organization that helps victims of child abuse, domestic and sexual violence, and partner stalking, as they work to prevent youth violence.
The next year, Don was featured in a Lexus commercial, and played Jaron in the horror film “Judgment”. Don also released his debut EP, “M.P.L.S.” made up of five songs including “Doin’ Something,” “Plane Jane,” and “Millions.” In 2019, he made a cameo in the comedy “CIROC: What Men Want.” then appeared in Will Jordan’s 2020 music video for his song “Back To Me,” and released another single entitled “Static.” The next year he played Maxey in the drama television series “On Deck”.
Don played Cameron in, and was an executive producer of 2022’s “North of the 10,” a comedy-drama that follows five friends living in Chicago to work on their careers in entertainment, however, some plans go awry when one of them begins dating a wealthy heiress who lives in a different country. The film was written and directed by Rhyan LaMarr, with co-writers Adam Key and Jon Knitter. The majority of the movie’s cast is not very well known – the most famous cast members are George Lopez as The Man, Casper Smart as Reggie Hunter, and Jaleel White as Lyle Silvers.
Don will soon appear in the film, “Man in the Mirror,” but not much is known about it other than it’s a drama, and other upcoming films are “Bunny and Clyde” and “3am in Hollywood.”
He has his own website, on which he sells merchandise such as hoodies and t-shirts, and his two published books, his autobiography “My Truth,” which was published on 11 June 2020, and “My Time Is Now” published the following year – the latter is filled with daily affirmations for 31 days; he offers personally signed copies of both books.
Don has a large social media presence – he uses his Instagram to post photos from his personal life and photoshoots, as well as a way to interact with fans and promote his newest projects. He recently opened a TikTok account as well, and has a self-titled YouTube channel to post longer-length videos regarding lifestyle, music, and his other interests. He even offers courses on how to model, such as Don Benjamin’s Modeling 101.
Don is currently represented by The Blossom Agency and Modelwerk which is located in Hamburg, Germany. He’s modelled for famous brands such as Tilly’s, Forever21 Men, Hot Topic, and Guess? just to name a few.
Unlike a lot of celebrities, Don does not value his privacy concerning his personal life, ‘I want my fans to be able to connect with me as much as possible.’
He began dating fellow influencer, Liane V in 2015; they enjoy filming and posting sketches together as that is what works for them – ‘We love working together, it’s super easy and fun, and we vibe well.’ Their relationship seemed to be going well – in 2017, they started a couple’s YouTube channel entitled Forever Us, which features videos of them cooking, trying challenges, travel vlogs, and Q and As.
In August 2019, Don proposed to Liane at her birthday party, and she accepted. However, they broke up only a few months later following cheating allegations against Don. Liane confirmed the news on March 2020 when she posted the video, “Opening Up About Our Break-up.” Don set the record straight on “The Spicy Life,” Spicy Mary’s podcast, and his book entitled “My Truth.” Following his side of the story being shared, Don and Liane got back together and tied the knot on 24 August 2021 in Hawaii.
For their first anniversary, they dressed up and Don posted an appreciation post detailing how much he loves his wife. On 25 August 2022, they announced that they’re expecting their first child together, posting photos of them together, with Liane’s baby bump clearly visible – the post was captioned, ‘Baby Benjamin loading…’ They also shared the sex of the baby – it’s a girl! Liane posted a photo of her ultrasound and captioned it, ‘… got to see our baby girl for the first time!’ When they are not uploading photos of themselves or promotional posts, they like to fill their feeds with photos of their dog, Noah Pom.
Another business venture they are in together is their merchandise line; they released a Halloween collection for October 2022, and the collection includes clothes for pets, as well as matching items for the pet parent and the pet. One of the shirts that Liane was photographed promoting is of a skeletal chest and a skeleton baby in the uterus area – like an x-ray of a pregnant person, obviously inspired by their daughter. They currently reside in Los Angeles.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
- Don enjoys traveling, making music, and anything that has to do with fashion.
- He has over two million Instagram followers.
- His musical inspirations are Boyz II Men, Jay-Z, Jagged Edge, Nas, and LL Cool J.
Don has short black hair and green eyes, stands at 6ft 1in (185cm), weighs 187lbs (85kg), his body type is mesomorph, his vital statistics are 42-33-15, and he wears a US size 11.5 shoe. Don also has quite a few tattoos.
Net worth and salary
As of October 2022, his net worth is estimated at $1.5 million, thanks to acting and modelling gigs, music, merchandise sales, online promotions, and reality shows.