American Icon: Jon Hamm (aka Don Draper)


What’s that saying? If at first you don’t succeed… try again. In Jon Hamm’s case he tried. Then tried some more. He kept trying until he achieved the recognition he finally deserved.

It came on a Sunday in September when the actor won his first Emmy, in 16 tries, for his work on AMC’s Mad Men, an acclaimed television show that ended its run in May. This was Hamm’s eighth nomination for his role playing advertising executive Don Draper.

But long before Hamm found himself fighting for Hollywood respect, he was simply fighting to discover who he was. It’s largely spelled out in this Quartz article, but the short story: an aspiring actor, Hamm headed west, from his hometown of St. Louis to Los Angeles in hopes of seeing his name and face on the big screen.

That was his dream. But the reality was much crueler. He worked as a waiter and a set designer, on soft-core pornographic films. At one point, he considered giving up on his dream.

“It was soul-crushing,” he admitted in an interview with Vanity Fair.

It would have been easy – and understandable – for Hamm to pursue a different career. But he didn’t. That’s because he knew what it meant to persevere at a young age. He lost his mother to cancer when he was 10.

And it was during this time of turmoil when several families, whom Hamm acknowledged in his Emmy speech, took him in when he needed it most.

Hamm begins that speech by saying, “There has been a terrible mistake, clearly.”

The mistake would have been if those families had never been there to support Hamm when he lost his mother. The mistake would have been if Hamm had given up when he was working demeaning jobs that had little to do with his career aspirations.

But it is no mistake when someone with a passion, talent and drive presses on, in the midst of life’s most difficult trials, and is ultimately rewarded for that.

In honor of Hamm, we’re offering a 20% discount through October 31 on the same brand of sunglasses (Randolph Engineering) his character wears on TV. Because we think it’s cool when people persevere, even when the easy option would be to quit. That’s one way we can strive to #BeAnIcon.

To take advantage of this discount, make sure to use the code JH2015 when checking out. And click this link to learn more about Randolph Engineering.

Words of an Icon: “Losing both parents at a young age gave me a sense that you can’t really control life – so you’d better live it while it’s here.” – Jon Hamm