I’m gonna start this interview with a softball. Can you give our readers your stats: height, hair color, eye color, birthday, and hometown?
DJ: 6’2, Dirty Blonde, Hazel, 11/24 (Sagittarius), Haymarket, Virginia (Country boy!)
Who’s your childhood hero? Mine was Joe Montana! LOL
DJ: Honestly, I never idolized anyone that much unless they brought something special into my life. I guess my good friends, mom, and sisters. They make me happy and inspire me.
Tell me, how long have you been in the business and what drove you to be a model?
DJ: I’ve been in the business for 5 years. I have a unique story. I wasn’t a model when I was a teenager. Just a regular kid from the stix. I graduated college and got a big time job which involved sitting on my butt 9 hours a day. I decided I wanted to do something else with my life. I quit my job after 18 months, took a 1-way flight to L.A., and as fate would have it, I was signed by Ford models 4 months later. I guess all that fitness training and sunshine paid off.
We know modeling is a fleeting business. What are your long term aspirations?
DJ: Like most I want to inspire, make a difference and have as strong of a voice as I can. I believe in creating good energy for the benefit of others, but truthfully for me as well. If you make others’ lives better, it makes your life better – just how things work. Happiness is infectious for everyone with a simple passing of good vibes (I should have been an Indian or something LOL). I love acting because I love to connect with others and be apart of an idea. It’s a great way for me to express how I feel in situations and experience. After all, aren’t we all just after experience? I love modeling because it pushes me to be the best version of myself and allows me to see the world – everyday is new and different in the print world. I have a passion for Holistic Nutrition because I’m obsessed with the idea of self-empowerment. Understanding the body, mind, and soul is huge and, to me, is just as vital as studying any other academics in our society. It’s given me the power to help heal myself from a serious chronic disease and through my pain I gained this…what an amazing gift right? Funny how life can work like that.
If you weren’t modeling, what would you be doing?
DJ: Probably hanging on a beach in the Caribbean working in Holistic Nutrition or hanging with my family in South Carolina.
You’re in incredible shape. What does your workout routine look like?
DJ: Its 70% diet, 10% getting a good sweat going and 20% doing some sort of resistance training/yoga. I love to work out with others because I hate doing things alone always in my own head. I’d rather laugh and talk in between sets with a buddy.
A perfect day for Dane is…
DJ: Hanging with loved ones making moves toward my dreams while hanging at a lake house with boats/jet skis and nothing but extremely healthy organic foods all around. Fitting in a little 45 minute sweat would be nice as well. AND maybe a special girl hanging w/ me =D
What’s your favorite cheat food?
DJ: Gummy Bears!
It’s time to give me your faves! Favorite TV show, movie, sports, team?
DJ: Football, REDSKINS!!; TV show – Game of Thrones; Movie – Dumb and Dumber; I’ve been kinda getting into tennis lately as well.
If I asked your friends to describe you, what would they say?
DJ: One annoying S.O.B who needs to stop talking so much LOL! I’d hope they’d say something nice. Maybe loyal, kinda hearted and a dork .
Somehow I doubt they’d say that! In one word describe yourself. Then tell me why.
DJ: Crazy/Inspiring – Because I never play it safe and I constantly put myself in risky circumstances. Job security? None – Where do you live? Always traveling – Does your lifestyle help your Crohn’s? – Absolutely not. Where will you be next year? ZERO CLUE!
Who inspires you?
DJ: Barack Obama – the adversity he faces as president and his ability to be funny, intelligent, and a DO’er. I’m inspired no matter his politics.
My mom – She makes me feel good about the idea of aging and having no sense of security in life. She’s crazy like me and I love it.
In five years Dane Johnson…?
DJ: Your guess is as good as mine. But I hope in an amazing relationship with a woman who inspires me and takes on the world by my side. Doing things in my career that inspire me like public speaking, TV/movies, international modeling.
Tell me something few people know about you.
DJ: I never liked Jocks when growing up. My best friends were kinda dorks who are good hearted people. I got cut from the basketball team in 6th grade – I cried like a baby!
Let’s get into a more serious topic. Tell me the circumstances that led to you discovering you had Crohn’s.
DJ: I started having pains in my stomach and weird symptoms like extreme bloating in my stomach, swelling ankles, extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate. Started when I was around 19 but i wasn’t diagnosed until 22.
Tell me about that struggle that saw you drop to 120 lbs.
DJ: Words cannot express how painful in every sense of the term going through that Crohn’s flare. I lost everything and it took 7 months of me retraining my body to walk, digest food, get off countless drugs, find the will to live…It was the most extreme thing I’ve ever gone through. BUT honestly it left me as a strong very unique person with this crazy life. I mean I’m a male model who has experienced some pretty amazing stuff in my 20’s but at the same times experienced some serious misery. I’m truly “awake” in life – I don’t know how else to say it. I understand and I feel people. My best conversations are usually with people over 40 years old.
How’d you fight back and what’s that mentality?
DJ: As weird as it sounds the mentality was the key to healing…not the diet. Once I was able to get my mind right and find what was beautiful about my days, I started to enjoy the things I needed to do everyday to heal. Being Grateful is powerful! I became excited about “solving the puzzle.” I became excited about my days around the house doing the things I challenged myself to do. Filling out my daily journal I created was a task that I was excited to conquer and see my results grow everyday. I filled out that daily journal for over 150 days straight.
For example – Eating only mashed up avocados with lemon and artichoke (Meal #1 of 3). Even though I would continue to lose weight and have no energy, I knew it was helping give my GI tract the time it needed to heal. Then I would put on some amazing music, read a book outside, and meditate to the point where breathing felt amazing! Work towards my holistic nutrition degree and implement everything I learned into my life. Growing is an amazing feeling… I would call loved ones and have amazing and funny conversations… Mentality was vital because the whole time my career was gone, my finances were being severely drained, daily pain, never leaving my house, and a few other tough things… But it all starts with the idea of finding peace and love within. The idea grows into physical actions and is the healing response of the body – Universal law for all off us.
Now that you’ve fought back, how do you deal with Crohn’s daily?
DJ: I work at remaining positive and trying to create positive momentum. The farther away I get from the episodes the more it’s not an issue. It can take months, if not years, but every month I feel myself getting stronger, less pain, better athletically, less food sensitivities, etc.
Now is your time. Please add anything you’d like.
DJ: I have a lot of pride as a man… that got checked very early in life. I consider myself a very strong man, but one who has been humbled and accepts myself and all those around me. I’ve done some pretty cool things but words really can’t change things for you or for me. The key to change is to work on the way you feel – your life, your self worth, other people. The only way we can change the way we feel is through action, letting our soul experience–which is always scary. When we have this courage, everything changes, including how we feel about ourselves. Psychiatrist and drugs are just ways to numb (not saying they don’t have their place) – leap off the cliff and witness your own changes. It doesn’t matter if its your health, career, love…whatever. The power is in faith and simply to DO. That’s why I say I’m a little crazy, I think you kinda have to be.
Dane, thank you so much for opening up to me. I know that you’re a very private person and I’m honored you chose to talk about your struggles first with me. You’re an amazing guy and I’m happy to call you a friend!