Bruce Darnell

An Afro American TV personality in Germany

Born in Colorado on July 19, 1957 as the fifth of ten children, German TV personality Bruce Darnell grew up as the only illegitimate child among nine other siblings. After briefly studying sociology, he joined the army, where he served as a paratrooper at Fort Bragg, NC for six years. As an African American in the South, he has spoken about the racial prejudice he encountered there. Having spent time in West Germany with the military, Darnell decided to go back there in 1983 without any definite plans.

Bruce Darnell in 2012

Bruce Darnell at the Deutscher Fernsehpreis awards in 2012.
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

First in Munich, later in Cologne, he began a career as a fashion model. Soon he was modeling in Paris, Milan, New York and other fashion capitals around the world. In 1990 he became a choreographer and modeling coach. But his real fame in Germany began in 2006 when he appeared as a juror on Heidi Klum’s “Germany’s Next Topmodel” on the ProSieben TV network. His broken German (“Das ist der Wahrheit.”) with a strong American accent became a trademark that he later used in German TV commercials for the clothing chain C&A and the wireless provider O2.

His 2008 “Bruce” fashion tips TV show (ARD) got poor ratings and was cancelled after only a few months. For the 2012 season he was a judge on the popular German talent show “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (DSDS). Darnell introduced his own perfume line in 2009, with “Bruce” for men and “Darnell” for women.

In 2008 he published a bestselling book entitled Drama, Baby, Drama! Wie Sie werden, was Sie sind (“How you become what you are”), with styling and self-improvement advice. In November 2010 the German magazine Stern published an interview in which Darnell admitted he has battled depression all his life – even during his success as a model and TV star. After intentionally crashing his car, he finally realized he needed help and got it.

Since 2008, Darnell has appeared as a judge for several seasons of RTL’s hit television show “Das Supertalent” – the German version of Simon Cowell’s “America’s Got Talent” and “Britain’s Got Talent.” He has also worked for the Swiss television broadcaster 3+.

Bruce Darnell has his permanent home in the Dutch town of Vaals (pop. 9,684) on the German border and right next to the German city of Aachen. (One in four residents in Vaals is German.) In addition to his TV appearances, Darnell also works as an international choreographer and fashion-model coach.

Next | American Black History and Germany

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