Former Red Bulls soccer player and successful male model Jason Roberts has built not one, but two careers with hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck. Originally from Kendall, New York (a small town somewhere between Buffalo and Rochester), Roberts was born into a hard-core soccer family. His father was a goalie and his mother a defender. His two older sisters both played and the whole family played college ball. When Roberts was five or six, Mom was the coach of the sisters’ team, so when he tagged along to practice he’d end up playing against girls twice his age.
Fast forward to Roberts’ senior year in college playing at Old Dominion: “We were in the NCAA Tournament, first-team all-conference, best in the South, with all the accolades, and an awesome season.” With a great record and hopes to go pro after graduation, Roberts’ plans were dashed when he tore his ACL.
“I’m not the kind of person to make excuses, and I believe everything happens for a reason, but this was a tough time in my life.”
A few years before the injury, a model friend came to one of Roberts’ college matches with her agent in tow. The agent spotted Roberts and scouted him immediately.
“I was around 20 years old and was like ‘no, I’m not a model.’”
The tenacious agent came to another game a year later and tried again. Roberts agreed to pose for some photos which the agent submitted for a job. Roberts landed the gig and made $1,000 on his first try.
“At that point, I was like ‘OK, I’m a model.’”
Roberts didn’t abandon his goal to play professional soccer, so the injury actually opened up a unique opportunity. After graduation, he stayed with a friend’s parents in New Jersey near Rutgers University where he could easily get to a facility to rehab his knee. The location also provided easy access to New York City’s advertising and modeling industries.
Roberts has been the face behind campaigns for Warby Parker and Ralph Lauren. He is currently signed with legendary modeling agency Wilhelmina. He also had the pleasure of shooting with supermodel (and spouse of Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill) Lily Aldridge.
“She is truly a star. She walks into a room and people just stop whatever they are doing. I’d worked with a few celebrity models who were not so nice. But Lily was nice to everybody. She was really kind, and that really stuck with me. No matter how much success you have, people are always going to respond to people who are nice, loving, and kind. That was one of the most impactful moments in my whole career.”
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For a jock we were surprised to learn that Roberts has a strict skincare regimen.
“I always have a little bag with me that has my face wash, serum, vitamin C, moisturizer and sunscreen. Of course, I also have my cleats, but I also almost always have a gym bag with a change of clothes, my workout gear, sneakers…it’s like my bag is constantly rotating between a soccer thing, a fashion thing, and a fitness thing.”
Roberts is sure to wash his face and use a serum and moisturizer every day, but his dermatologist encouraged him to try a topical Vitamin C serum. “I’m a huge Vitamin C fan, and if you’re not on it, you should be. It’s been a game-changer.”
“When I was a kid, going to all those soccer matches, my mom always made me wear sunscreen. By the time I went to college in Virginia Beach, soccer season was in August, so I guess I’ve just grown up using it and avoiding the sun’s damage.”
Although Roberts is probably most at home in a soccer uniform, he also has modeled some solid fashion behavior. “I think it comes from my grandmother who was always into dressing properly and matching everything. I watched that as a kid and latched onto it. We went to a church where you could show up in sweats, but my grandmother always had us dress up for the occasion. Now I’m always thinking that I need to represent the right thing.”
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Roberts is definitely a label hound or, as he puts it, “I’m very loyal to brands. I need a suitcase that will fit into the overhead and that rolls easily through the airport.” Roberts points out that basketball players like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade really influenced the style of professional athletes. “A lot of my soccer buddies didn’t know about fashion, so when I first started modeling, it was an education.”
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“I also have a Gucci duffel that I’m using right now that I can put a lot of my stuff in, throw over my shoulder, and fit it under the seat on the plane.”
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“Tag Heuer (was) the official Timekeeper of the English Premier League, so my Tag was one of my first big purchases for myself.”
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Roberts is also disciplined in his diet. “I’ve been on some kind of strict diet since I was 13 or 14 years old,” says Roberts. Back then I had a coach who gave us guidance on what to eat and when, and that put me on the right path. I know some guys can eat cheeseburgers and pizza and still have six-pack abs, but that’s not me. I’ve always needed to work hard for it. The flip side of that is that people always say that my skin is radiating. I think a lot of men who eat all that greasy food wonder why they have acne or other skin problems.”
As a result of his disciplined existence, Roberts has always had a steady stream of work, and never had to live in an apartment with other models for roommates.
“Taking care of yourself, watching your diet, and not partying every night are key. Hard work beats talent any day.”
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