Seth Lee

From shooting campaigns with Celine to volunteering with his community’s local food pantry, Seth Lee knows the importance of intertwining his love for art and culture with his commitment to giving back.

Born and bred in Texas, Seth Lee is not only taking over the fashion world but also has a soft spot for music and acting. The 21-year-old, first made a name for himself in the industry appearing in several movies, one of them being The Accountant, where he played the younger version of Ben Affleck’s character (Christian Wolff). For his role, he received the Young Artist Award and Young Entertainer Award for Best Supporting Teen Actor in a Feature Film.

In addition to stunning in front of the camera, Seth also directs and writes his own short films and music videos. He now resides in LA and has recently showcased his talents in campaigns for Celine, Rhude and Coach. He founded the band The Blowing Raspberries and is taking over as the bass player. Their music is infused with inspirations by Arctic Monkeys and Patti Smith. While being a model, actor and musician, he is devoted to helping his local community and wants to leave a legacy behind that is all about love. With an approach to the world that is way larger than just a pretty face, he is sure to leave a lasting impression.

After a whirlwind time at fashion week and in between shooting his next project and giving back to his community, 1883 Magazine chats with Seth Lee about his love for fashion, the people he pulls inspiration from, the importance of helping others, and more.

Seth — New York Fashion Week just took place. Did you walk any of the runways? 

I was there for a little bit, but there was a situation where I had a shoot right before I left for New York and some contract stuff that we didn’t read until I was already there. It was exclusivity with Celine, so I wasn’t able to do much out there. But, I was there to see a few shows and then hung out with friends and stuff. I have a lot of friends in New York so I just spent a good week out there. It was fun.

That’s cool. Celine is one of the major brands that you had a campaign with recently, right?

Yes! I did a campaign with them and I walked some shows for them and have had quite a good relationship with the team over there.

It’s one of my favourite brands. I really love Celine, too. 

Hedi has his style and I think it works very well for a lot of people. I love the direction that he has been headed, the new collection that came out was beautiful. 

Absolutely! What would you say is your favourite campaign that you’ve ever worked on? 

The modelling stuff has been kind of more of a recent endeavour. I’ve done a few campaigns, but the Celine one is my favourite. The thing that I love about Hedi is that he likes to bring the personality of the model subject to life on set, working the subject and the brand’s profile or aesthetic. He’s very focused on us. I appreciate that. That was the first opportunity I had in this industry. I was reached out to on Instagram by Seth Baker, at the casting over there, and that was the first thing that I’d done and then immediately they signed me to an exclusivity for about a year which was great. I love the brand and I loved what he was doing and again, focusing on bringing my personality to the camera. I was very grateful for that opportunity and it kind of spoiled me for sure because it was one of the best experiences I’ve had.

I have a great opportunity to work with other brands as well. Rhude and Coach most recently. A few campaigns for different brands, like the Korean brand Time. They have all been lovely experiences but just specifically the idea of not changing who I am for a brand or anything — not that those other brands were doing that either — but it just was very emphasized at Celine like hey, this is about you. I love that.

I love that as well. In a fashion, it’s so easy to lose your personality a little bit. So, I think it’s so good to hear that they pay attention to who you are as a person. Sometimes when you tell people that you’re in fashion or you want to be in fashion they are like: Do you change something or do you just wear clothes and take pictures?

The number of times I go to fashion week and my friends were like, “Oh, you just go there and you walk and that’s all you do. That’s so easy.” But there’s a lot more to it than that. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s the hardest job in the world, but it’s important to express yourself and bring that personality when you have that opportunity. Some people have difficulty dealing with breaking down that wall and expressing themselves. For me, it’s been a bit of an easier transition because I’ve been acting for 12-plus years of my life so that concept isn’t necessarily new to me. I know that some people want to enter the professional world for the first time, not having any other background like that, it’s a bit harder but, eventually, you get there.

Absolutely. As a model, how do you maintain your balance? I feel like models are treated way better now than they used to. Is it as crazy behind the scenes as people always say? It’s not easy. I can imagine it’s very stressful. 

Yeah, there’s stress involved. Again, I’ve dealt with my difficulties with a lot of mental health issues, things concerning body image and everything like that. Getting into the modelling scene, I was expecting it to be very difficult and a lot of people have their own experiences. I was in a place mentally where I was getting better and working on myself. I didn’t struggle as much, but it is something that when I signed my management, they sent a form on how to maintain a healthy eating relationship, food and stuff like that. They are aware. The people in the industry are aware of certain issues going on. From what I’ve seen, the brands that I’ve worked with and the people I’ve worked with are very proactive and trying to make sure we’re taken care of and that everybody is doing well mentally. I’m very appreciative of that and, again, I’m speaking from my own experiences. I’m sure other people aren’t as fortunate. It’s getting better but, there’s always going to be something to speak on or somebody to speak up about.

Yeah, I think a lot of things have changed for the better. It’s really interesting to hear that from someone who is actually in the modelling industry. What’s your favourite runway show that you ever walked?

There are a few good ones on the list. Again, the Celine show that I did because it was my first one and I’m very sentimental about it. I picked up a few pieces from that collection because it’s very functional. I love the Coach show that I just did. I was wearing this knit Kurt Cobain-esque dress and, it was interesting. It’s something I’m not used to wearing myself but it was nice to have that part of the expression. That’s what fashion is about. It’s always evolving while also maintaining functionality. That’s what is super important to me when I like working with somebody — is this something that somebody could wear? There are archival pieces and things that are grand and gestures that are art pieces, you know what I mean?  Maintaining that functionality is super important to me. That’s what I love about people that I’ve worked with so far. Then the Rhude show was more cool, more streetwear style, which is not my style as much but it was again really cool to have that part of myself get brought out.

What would you say is your style? I see a lot of silver jewellery. A bit of skater vibes.

When I first started getting rings and stuff when I was 14 or 15, I thought silver was my colour, not gold. I love seeing gold on other people because it’s not something that I can see myself wearing. In terms of my style, I would say it’s in an evolving phase right now. I came off this 70s-inspired style, a lot of flair pants, and tight t-shirts. That was my thing last year. This year, I like this Western style. I’m from Texas so it’s the first time that I’m bringing out that part of me. I just picked up my first cowboy hat. I’m excited to sort of integrate that into my style.

Yeah, I think the Western core is coming back for sure.

Did you see the last Louis Vuitton show? The last collection at Paris Fashion Week, I believe was outstanding. I think that’s the hot thing right now. Beyonce had her country song come out recently. 

Yeah, I agree. I think cowboy hats are going to be a thing this year. We already have the cowboy boots. They’ve been a thing for two years now, but cowboy hats that’s gonna be a fun one. 

What would you say your style is?

Definitely old Celine. I have the alphabet necklace with my initials.

That’s beautiful. I love it!

That’s one of my most prized possessions. Old Celine, The Row. Just very simple pieces like button-ups, shirts, cowboy boots, loafers. I do collect the Celine pieces. I think I always go back to the basics.

I’ll find one with an S if there’s something like that.

Yeah, you should so we can twin! What’s your opinion on the current runway trends?

I’m trying to think of who I just recently saw. I mean, the Margiela show. Margiela is also one of my favourite brands. 

I loved the show! And I have tabis!

You do? I need to get tabis. I was just the other day trying them on and, I was like, I need to pull the trigger, I need to do it. 

I just love them. My friend said, “If you ever gonna wear them when you with me, I won’t be your friend anymore.” 

In New York, my friends say, “You have to get tabis!” But in LA, the fashion culture is a bit different. I feel like tabis are the niche out here. The [Maison Margiela] porcelain doll show was just amazing. that they just had was amazing. Ralph Lauren is doing some cool stuff. I think fashion is in a pretty good place.

Some people think there isn’t a personality on the runway these days as much as in the 2000s. I don’t know if I agree with that. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been behind the scenes at the shows and spoken to people and I see their personalities come in their walk a little bit. Unfortunately, Tom Ford isn’t around as much anymore and we’re missing those staples, but there are a lot of new faces on the scene and that’s exciting. The icons before started in the same places and it’s time for a new environment, a new ecosystem. That’s what’s taking place and that’s very exciting to me. Change is a beautiful thing. I always find a way to change. Being stuck in one place is not for me. I want to see that in the world around me. So, seeing that in the fashion industry is beautiful.

I think there are a lot of great things happening. There are a lot of amazing designers, like Stella McCartney who is changing so much. There are so many cool emerging upcoming designers who make a difference. There is so much happening and I wish people could see that more. It’s so hard to advocate for that but there’s so much positive happening. 

I agree, I think social media has something to do with it. Social media brings accessibility to showing off these new faces. People who even just sit in their room with a sewing machine and make something out of that, I love to see that. 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be able to see those people with a sewing machine in rooms like what they’re doing, but now we get that opportunity. It’s exciting. It brings inspiration to people who probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance 20 years ago. I don’t say social media is the reason for all of that obviously, but it is a platform that is accelerating a lot of these new faces and I think that’s awesome. 

Absolutely. Especially on TikTok, there are so many trends happening. We spoke earlier about the cowboy vibe coming back in fashion, but there’s such a turnaround in aesthetics and trends. It can be a little bit unhealthy but it’s also so interesting.  People jump from one thing to another so quickly and as you said earlier about having a personality, sometimes people lose themselves in those trends and they only wear what’s cool and for me, that’s not what fashion is. You don’t see the personality when people just wear trends. I’ve always stuck to my aesthetic, my fashion, my vibe and I add cowboy boots for example. I add them to my style. I think it’s so difficult to stay true to your style. That’s what I find a bit sad or a bit toxic about social media or TikTok because it’s so ever-changing.

What you just said is spot on. I agree with you and the thing that I have with trends and I’ll have conversations with friends where I say I don’t know if I believe in trends. There’s just so much in style right now, like that ’70s core I was talking about. Even though I’m transitioning out of it, it’s still very prominent, especially here in LA. There’s the 90s and Y2K style, Ed Hardy and all that stuff are always constantly in the flow and the cycle. I go back and forth on that idea of trends.

I’m in a position where it’s a jumping-off point for me. Before, I was a teenager and trying to find my style and all this stuff. I would follow trends and now it guided me into figuring out. I think that’s what it’s there for, and what it should be. It’s not something that should stick around. You should find yourself after trying all these trends and following the niche and what’s in, what’s out and all that stuff. At a certain point you have to figure out okay, what’s for me, how do I block out everything else that’s going on around me and how do I focus on what I like and what I want to express? Right now, the Western core is coming in for me. My closet says a bunch of stuff. The skater vibe, and all this stuff, all these black vintage T-shirts that I still wear that I got five years ago, I’m still bringing those back, but I know that that’s what works for me. I found that through the trends, and I keep with it.

Yeah. I agree! How do you maintain the balance between modelling, acting and music? 

I still try to figure it out myself. I keep wondering how it all happened. Acting for me is still the main thing. That’s been my passion since I was a little boy. There’s a lot of love for acting for me and a lot of things coming up the pipeline and I’m very excited to eventually get to talk about some things. Then the music stuff, I’ve been playing guitar for a few years. I recently joined a band with my friends — Brianna Reed and Michael Goodman — and we are called The Blowing Raspberries and integrated that during the strike. The actor strike was interesting and [the band] kept me busy. I was grateful for that because it kept my brain going. I have a loose schedule, but I’m always anticipating being on my toes and not make a set plan. I have to be ready for a ticket to New York for fashion week that I wasn’t prepared for or a shoot that I have the next day where I have to be like okay, now I have to change my classes or change some session that I have music-wise. Being open and not being set on one plan.

What kind of music do you make with your band?

Our inspirations are Patti Smith, with a mix of Arctic Monkeys. Indie rock, but specifically our lead singer and writer Bree comes from a poet background. She had a poetry book that she wrote, and that’s where the Patti Smith inspiration gets involved, harping in on the lyrics and a certain rhythm and flow that comes with it. The Arctic Monkeys stuff was a guitar with some distortion and a good crunch and the drum playing and its role. We have played a few gigs out here, and we’re working on getting an EP out so hopefully that comes out this year and I get to talk about that.

I’m excited to hear the EP. I will keep an eye out for the band. Let’s talk a little bit about your movie BUGS that’s coming out. Tell me a bit more about how it was to be on set and about your character. 

It was a great time. I got to work with a lot of friends that I’d already known before. The director Chloe Warmoth, she’s been a very talented director for some time now, so it’s great to have had the opportunity to work with her. I’ve worked with her as an actor before but hiding behind the camera and directing. It was a beautiful thing to see as her friend and co-worker, she was really in her element. I’m very proud of her. We worked and we shot in Michigan where the director is from. We shot in this cute little town that I walked every day, it was very peaceful. It was during a very stressful time in my life. Even though it was still work, it was very relaxing and a great environment to be in.

My character Chi, I don’t know how much I can give away in terms of story, but he is an intern at this evil science lab. At first, I’m there working and grinding and trying to get my feet in the door and work my way up. But eventually, my morals sort of come to me, I come to my senses and help the people who need my help and guide them in that. I wish I could say more but it’s a very fun project. Very, very, very unique and different. It’s something that everyone can enjoy. It’s funny but has some great family drama and tension.

So cool, I’m excited to watch it. Who inspires you musically and also as an actor? Who are your top three inspirations? 

For acting, Robert Pattinson is one that I love. He has his path and vision with Harry Potter and then Twilight, reaching out to those fan bases and then finding himself and his independent projects. Good Time is one of my favourite movies. It’s an A24 film with the Safdie brothers and it was awesome to see him going in different directions, staying on his toes and not anticipating what’s next. The career path he has is awesome and now he’s Batman, who doesn’t want to be Batman? I would say of course Leo is always inspiring. Basketball Diaries is a very overlooked film that a lot of people I’ve talked to have seen and it’s one that I highly recommend. His performance is insane, words can’t describe it. And then one more let’s see. I would say, Brad Pitt. He has his own look and style. He brings that energy to everything he’s in. No matter what the film is, it’s very inspiring. 

Music-wise, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have always been a favourite of mine. I play bass for my band. It’s very technically insane and not something that I’m able to reach quite yet but that sound, that influence is something that I hope I bring into my playing. Then, I love Arctic Monkeys and The Backseat Lovers is a band that I have been loving for some time.

Love them too! What’s your favourite song from them?

I would say “Viciously Lonely.” It’s a little bit of a sadder tune not quite upbeat.

I’ll listen to it! I love “Heavy.” Also from The Backseat Lovers.

 Yes, a great track.

Let’s talk about skincare. What’s your take on it? 

I love that nice glow afterwards after moisturizing. It makes you feel great. I like going through the skincare process. You get toner, get different serums and face masks and all that stuff. I think it’s super important. If you have the time and accessibility to do so. It is just a nice way to start the day. It’s better than a cup of coffee in the morning. I don’t want to say people aren’t getting involved in the skincare stuff. I see it on TikTok, their daily routines or whatever. I think some men believe in a stigma about skincare that is very outdated. People say it’s a girl thing or whatever, but it’s not that gender roles even really exist that much anymore anyway, especially on skincare, there are still grounds to be broken for some guys. If this reaches out to any of those guys get on it. Your girlfriend, your sister, somebody’s gonna be thankful.

Yeah, I love a good skincare routine too. Let’s talk a little bit about the importance of helping other people. I know that you help your community’s local food pantry. Why do you think it’s so important to help other people?

Ultimately, we’re not on this planet for long in the grand scheme of things, and giving back to the people that you can. Before I got involved in my community, there would be days where I would be tired after [work] and just wanted to relax, but it’s important to make the time to go out there and help. Once you get over that hump, you get very passionate about it. Everybody from other backgrounds has the opportunity to give back to their community in some kind of way. There are different ways you can do that, like getting involved in a food pantry like I have in North Hollywood or going to the beach and picking up the trash. It takes five minutes to do some good. I believe in karma, I think good karma comes your way. Especially if it’s a community that you live in, why wouldn’t you want to give that love back? You’re living on that ground and you’re living in that city with your neighbors and you should all share that loved experience and care for where you are, you know?

Yeah, I agree. I’m going to volunteer in France in two weeks so I’m excited about that because as you said, I think if you have an ounce of privilege, you should use it because there are so many people who need your help. So I think that’s amazing what you’re doing. If you if you could leave a legacy behind which one would it be?

That’s a great question. Ultimately, I just want to be remembered for trying my best to love those around me. Success is great and I want to be at a certain place in my career but ultimately the love that I give back to others is what I want to be remembered for. 

What else is happening for you this year?

One of the other projects that I know I can talk about, is The Midway Point. Starring with Julie Benz and Sean Ryan Fox and a lot of other great people. I’m not sure if it’s confirmed for release for this year but that is something that I am anticipating, possibly coming out this year. That’s exciting. That’s a great project that I got to work on. There are a few other things in the pipeline that I can’t discuss too much. The music stuff is coming. The fashion stuff comes up at different times and fashion week and everything, that’s all exciting.

Follow Seth Lee @sethlee01.

Interview Maja Bebber
Photography Storm Santos

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