August 03, 2018 04:33 PM

Before he died of an apparent suicide, Rick “Zombie Boy” Genest worked as an actor and model, most famously appearing in Lady Gaga‘s music video for “Born This Way.”

Genest, who lived in Montreal, was found dead in his home on Wednesday, according to iHeartRadio Canada. He was 32.

The “Million Reasons” singer also shared the sad news on Thursday, confirming he had taken his own life in a social media post.

“The suicide of friend Rick Genest, Zombie Boy is beyond devastating,” she wrote in a Tweet honoring the model. “We have to work harder to change the culture, bring Mental Health to the forefront and erase the stigma that we can’t talk about it.”

“If you’re suffering, call a friend or family today,” she added. “We must save each other.”

Here’s a look back at the career career of the late actor and model.

Discovery

Genest was discovered by designer Nicola Formichetti, who at the time was working for Lady Gaga as a stylist and as artistic director for Mugler, according to W Magazine.

I found Rico on Facebook,” Formichetti told Hint Magazine in 2011, adding that he completely changed his debut collection for Mugler after seeing his photos.

“I added more, by taking stuff from him, making it a bit darker and gothic-y. So basically I Facebooked him and was like, “You know, I’m doing this thing in Paris and I would love you to be there in two weeks,” he continued, adding that after he found out Genest, who was homeless at the time, didn’t have a passport, he took the clothes to Montreal instead, where they shot a visual campaign for the collection.

And after showing the photos to Gaga, the singer told Formichetti, “Oh my god, you have to do a show.”

Formichetti went on to pay “ten or twenty” thousand dollars to pay for the fines Genest had accumulated for sleeping on the streets in order to obtain a passport for him so that Genest could walk in the fashion show.

Genest went on to model for magazines such as GQ, Vanity Fair, and Vogue Hommes, according to iHeartRadio.

Rick Genest
Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock

Following the news of Genest’s death, Formichetti shared a touching tribute with his late muse on social media, writing: “Absolutely heartbroken. Rest in Power, Zombie Boy. 🖤 Sending all my condolences and love to his family and friends in this trying time.”

RELATED: Heavily Tattooed Model Zombie Boy from Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ Video Dead at 32

Born This Way

In 2011, Genest appeared alongside Lady Gaga in her music video for single “Born This Way.”

Rick Genest and Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga/Youtube
Rick Genest and Lady Gaga

In the music video, he stood stoically beside the singer, whose face was made up in such a way so as to mimic his distinctive tattoos.

L’Oréal Spokeperson

By 2012, the then-26-year-old model became the first spokesman for L’Oréal’s Demablend Professional Line, according to WWD.

In a video filmed for the brand the previous year, Genest sat in front of a camera with makeup covering his entire body. The makeup was then removed to reveal all of his tattoos.

The advertisement ran with the tagline: “How do you judge a book?”

Rick Genest
Penske Media/REX/Shutterstock

Genest currently holds a Guinness World Record for the most insect tattoos on his body (a total of 176) as well as another record for the most human bone tattoos at 139.

Acting Work

Having previously appeared in the 2009 movie Carny at the start of his career, in 2013 he appeared in 47 Ronin, a movie also starring Keanu Reeves.  

He also appeared on two episodes of the British television series Silent Witness in 2017.

Rick Genest
F Entertainment/Mid Atlantic Films/Mpc/Stuber Productions/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Rick Genest
F Entertainment/Mid Atlantic Films/Mpc/Stuber Productions/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Tedx Talk

In a TEDx Talk published in June 2017, Genest opened up about how he was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was younger.

“By grade 9, that’s when the blackouts started. At first it was only once in a while, but as time passed it was more and more frequent,” he said, recounting waking up “passed out on the bathroom floor…and everything was covered in piss.”

Although at the time his mother suggested he get a humidifier, to see if that would help the problem, after going to a hospital, Genest was told that he had a brain tumor.

“Apparently the tumor was dangerously located millimeters behind my optic-nerve and would need an open-faced surgery procedure,” he continued, adding that after “six months of waiting,” his family was told there was another option: “to go in through the palate of the mouth using laser technology.”

Although it was a brand new procedure at the time, Genest made the decision to have the operation.

“August 7th 2000 they gave me the gas … I stepped out of the hospital as the second person in North America to survive this procedure,” he remarked.

The Canadian native’s birthday is Aug. 7. He would have been 33 this year. 

Before his death, Genest was also involved with the Home Depot Canada Foundation to bring awareness to youth homelessness.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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