Djimon Hounsou is a Beninese and American actor and model. He is known for his roles as Joseph Cinqué in Steven Spielberg‘s 1997 film Amistad and Juba in Gladiator (2000).


Hounsou was born in Cotonou, Benin, in West Africa (age: 57) where he was raised by his parents Albertine and Pierre Hounsou. At 13 years old, his parents sent him and his only brother Edmond Hounsou to Lyon, France, in order to pursue a better life. However, shortly after arriving, Hounsou dropped out of school and became homeless, sleeping under bridges and digging through garbage cans for food. In time, he met a photographer who later introduced him to fashion designer Thierry Mugler, who turned Hounsou into a male model.


After establishing his modeling career in France, Hounsou wanted to begin acting so he moved to the United States in 1990. Hounsou appeared in several music videos including “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul, “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” by Janet Jackson, Madonna‘s “Express Yourself” and En Vogue’s music video for “Hold On.”


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During this time, Hounsou was also guest-starring in TV series such as Beverly Hills, 901210ER and Alias. His debut in theaters was with Without You I’m Nothing (1990). In 1994, Hounsou landed a larger role in Stargate, a science-fiction film, in which he starred as Horus.

His big break came with 1997’s Amistad, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe and won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. Thereafter, the nominations and awards continued to roll out in Hounsou’s favor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for In America, which made him the fourth African man to be nominated for an Oscar. Additionally, Hounsou won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Blood Diamond and received the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Academy Award nominations for this performance. Hounsou was also nominated for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture as Juba in Gladiator. 

Hounsou had numerous supporting roles in movies such as Beauty Shop (2005), The Tempest (2010), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Furious 7 (2015) and many more.

Additionally, the actor has also done voice work for movies including Killing Zoe (1993) and How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014). He was also the voice of Black Panther in a TV series of the same name in 2010.

However, through the years Hounsou never completely abandoned his modeling career. In 2002, he starred in a commercial for Gap jeans. Also, he was the Calvin Klein underwear model in 2007, when he was being represented by his agent Omar Albertto.

Hounsou is to star in 2019’s Captain Marvel.


Ron Hall and Djimon Hounsou sat down with uInterview to discuss their film Same Kind of Different as Me, which is based on Hall’s novel. The true story is derived from a dream Hall’s dying wife had of a homeless man who helped the family through their woes.

Hall explained the beginnings of Hounsou’s character, which was inspired by a real individual:

“Several years ago, my late wife had a literal dream about a homeless man who was wise, and by his wisdom our city and our lives would be changed. She asked me to go into the inner city in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin looking for this man in her dream,” Hall told uInterview. “We started serving at a homeless shelter there, and after a couple of weeks, this homeless man storms in and threatens to kill everybody in the room. And she says, ‘That’s him, that’s the man I had the dream about. And I think I heard from God that you have to be his friend.’ And I told her, ‘I wasn’t at that meeting you had with God,’” he joked. “I found out that they called him ‘Suicide’ because messing with him was the equivalent of committing suicide.”

Hounsou plays the homeless man, Denver Moore, in the 2017 film. He reflected on his experience being homeless in Paris compared to his character’s impoverished experience.

“That was the only notion I have of being homeless, but Denver Moore’s life experiences are beyond anybody’s comprehension, and suddenly to have such a powerful outlook on life and positive outlook on life, it’s inspiring the way he dealt with people,” Hounsou said.

Additionally, the actor said the movie offers a “message of hope, and tolerance, and acceptance and forgiveness and compassion.”

Watch the trailer for Same Kind of Different as Me below.


Hounsou began dating model Kimora Lee Simmons in 2007 and they welcomed their child Kenzo Lee Hounsou in 2009. Although they were never legally married in the United States, the couple participated in a traditional commitment ceremony in the summer of 2008 in Benin, Africa. The two emphasized that it was not a wedding. Nonetheless, they announced their separation in 2012.

Hounsou does not have any more children from other relationships. He’s kept his relationships out of the public eye if he’s had any since his split with Simmons. Before his relationship with the mother of his only son, Hounsou dated actress Victoria Mahoney.

Additionally, Hounsou has used his fame to draw attention to climate change. In 2009, he spoke at the Summit on Climate Change at the United Nations. The actor also told French media that developed countries “need to be held accountable” for their contribution to climate change.

Hounsou is 6’1″ and has an estimated net worth of $12 million. He’s on Twitter as @djimonhounsou and Instagram as @djimon_hounsou.


School bored me. Being educated and being intelligent are two different things. I thought I was smart enough. And I wanted to be an entertainer. I stopped going to school as a way of saying I was mature, a way of saying I was going to choose who I was going to become.

America has this understanding of Africans that plays like National Geographic: a bunch of Negroes with loincloths running around the plain fields of Africa chasing gazelles. Meanwhile, we have Africans and African-Americans, contemporary men, with great stories, great integrity, great heroes and nobody wants to see or hear about those African heroes and those African-American heroes. One day, I will be in a position to play those great human beings on-screen.”

Some of the reason why you have so many divorces is that we tend to get married, most of the time, not for ourselves, but for others, or for how it looks to others.”

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Djimon Hounsou, Age News