Arms of Love

A conversation with Dominique “Joy” Thompson

By Janice Carter Levitch

Photos by Joe Goodwin

Dominique “Joy” Thompson has one of the most unique looks I have ever encountered. She reminds me of Iman and Grace Jones blended together to create the perfect supermodel. The words gorgeous, tall, slender and absolutely mesmerizing describe her physical beauty, but it is more than skin deep. The wife and mother of three strives to encourage others and demonstrate that all things are possible if you just believe.

 Working full time as a certified nursing assistant at University of Louisville Hospital, Joy finds great fulfillment in helping nurse people back to health. However, her calling is feeding the homeless and making care packages for people in hospitals and nursing homes. Arms of Love is a program that she created to help those in need.

I was thrilled when Joy accepted my request for a sit-down for The Voice. 

Janice: You have an amazing look. Can you tell me about the choice to keep your head shaved?

Joy: I’ve struggled with hair issues pretty much all my life. It falls out a lot and my hairline is receding. It’s very thin and patchy. When it does grow, two inches is pretty much my max. The last time my hair fell out, I hid behind hats and stayed home even from church. I came out one day with a black wrap on and it was sliding off. As embarrassed and ashamed as I was, I decided to reveal my truth and testify about my hair. It was the moment of transparency, and I became free and unashamed to be the real me. Accepting what I consider “my thorn” taught me that true beauty is found from within and being bald just accesses it much easier.


“Accepting what I consider ‘my thorn’ taught me that true beauty is found from within and being bald just accesses it much easier.”

– Dominique “Joy” Thompson

How did you choose your modeling career path?

I didn’t choose modeling; modeling chose me. I was the first model for the Louisville Metro Healthy Start Campaign when it debuted over 15 years ago. My daughter was a baby and they needed a model, but I had no babysitter (during) their launching brunch. I was invited to attend and was offered my first modeling job featuring my daughter. We were the first models ever chosen for that campaign. Our images were seen throughout the city on transit buses, on brochures, in hospitals, clinics and the city’s family health and wellness programs. I’ve done modeling here and there from time to time.

I’m an encourager at heart and a true prayer warrior.”

 Modeling met me again after I lost my hair about six years ago. Someone needed a picture of me to put on a church flyer because I was chosen as one of the guest singers, and I had no professional pictures. Shanetta Thompson is my sister-in-law and she told me about Joe Goodwin, one of Louisville’s best photographers. She thought we would work magic together. Joe said he’s always wanted to do a shoot with me, so I had my first photo shoot with Joe, and we’ve been working magic ever since. He’s my favorite photographer and has been very instrumental in my modeling career. His images along with a few more of my faves – Tony Welscher, Erik Branch, Albert Jones, Ty Daniels, Clay Cook, Steve Squall, Genna Yussman Greene and Derek Hibben – are all photographers in the city of Louisville. Their images, along with my agent Kathy Campbell of Heyman Talent Agency, are very instrumental in helping me further advance in my modeling career. 

I’ve modeled for Macy’s Kentucky Fashion Show, New York Fashion Week, ABC’s “The View,” Runway Liberia International and Fashion Week in several cities including Columbus, Cincinnati, Indiana and Atlanta. (Locally,) I’ve also modeled for All is Fair in Love & Fashion, Ann-DeEvelyn Co., Wine Women & Shoes and many more.

Where do you draw inspiration for your wardrobe choices?

I’m pretty spontaneous when it comes to my wardrobe. I love fashion and being creative. Two of my favorite styles are trendy fashion and elegant formal wear.

Are there certain colors you are drawn to?

My favorite color is red. It’s the love, passion and fierce color. You can never go wrong with red. I also love mustard yellow and anything black or white. Green captures my attention, too.

What inspires you when you’re in a photo shoot?

I find inspiration from several things, including posing and movement, knowing how and when to coordinate facial expressions and body movement. This is something I’m always trying to improve on as a model. I love having a team that includes a creative director, stylist and makeup artist, (though) a lot of times I apply my own makeup. I love listening to gospel, classical and jazz music during a shoot because it helps me to embody the mood of the garments I’m wearing.   

How would you describe your personality?

I’m pretty fun and bubbly. My middle name is Joy, and I’m told I embody this emotion a lot. I love people. I’m an introvert with an extroverted twist. I’m a very private person but very friendly, too. You’ll definitely find me complimenting and hugging everyone in the room. I’m an encourager at heart and a true prayer warrior. Everyone that knows me knows before I became a model, I have always been a church girl first.

Can you describe your personal style?

My personal style is laid-back and comfortable. When I’m not modeling or at work, I’m happy wearing leggings and plaid shirts. I love sweaters and jackets. I’m cold a lot so at night I can be found wearing a Snuggy, soft warm cushion socks and (I’ll) have my pet Chihuahua nearby.


Modeling taught me to love myself, bold and beautiful, with or without makeup, bald and free.”

Who is your biggest fashion influencer?

I don’t really have one at the moment. I love seeing differentiations of fashion and how it’s evolving.

 Do friends seek wardrobe advice from you?

Sometimes they’ll ask my opinion of what goes with what or if I think something looks good.

What was your “aha moment” when you knew you were unique?

I took a step of faith and auditioned at Heyman Talent Agency. I thought I wouldn’t be accepted because I’m bald. But the staff said, “Girl, have you seen a mirror? We want to represent you. You are beautiful. We love your look. It’s unique.” For years, I couldn’t even accept my own flaws and for the first time something I least expected happened – the agency accepted me just as I am. Modeling taught me to love myself, bold and beautiful, with or without makeup, bald and free. V

Joy hopes to transition Arms of Love from a personal mission into a nonprofit organization this year. To learn more, send an email to so_joyful@yahoo.com.