Sean O’Pry EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW "Good Ol’ Georgia Boy”

July 15, 2016 2:00 PM



Fashion’s hottest male model get’s a dirty makeover and muses about the simple life.


When clad in a leather jacket and jeans, his hair slicked down on the sides and his skin marked with grease, Sean O’Pry bears a striking resemblance to James Dean, the archetypal mixture of emotive depth and masculine grit. The association is neither unexpected nor particularly innovative: Dean is a worthy barometer for any good-looking man in leather. Yet to watch O’Pry in front of the camera is to recognize that a comparison of the young model to the iconic actor goes beyond a simple physical likeness. The 22-year-old native of Kennesaw, Georgia has a healthy amount of Dean’s natural swagger and ease on film, moving as comfortably in his jacket and stretched-out tank as he does in a button-down oxford or with no shirt at all.

O’Pry’s apparent effortlessness in accompaniment to his undeniably photogenic face, was doubtless a major factor in his almost meteoric rise to fame. In 2009, only three years after he was discovered through prom photos on his MySpace page, Forbes named him “Most Successful Male Model.” While such achievement is enough to inflate anyone’s ego to dangerous proportions, O’Pry is quick to attribute his success to his manager, Lana Winters Tomczak, and is openly grateful for her support, as well as that of his close-knit group of family and friends. Despite his relatively young age, he is remarkably and even admirably levelheaded. On this level, he shares little with the temperamental Jim Stark of Rebel Without a Cause or the moody and cynical Cal Trask of East of Eden.

Nor does O’Pry share James Dean’s own penchant for danger, insisting that he would much rather play golf or fish than race cars. Considering himself at times as “a cat with a ball of string,” he has learned during his six years as a model to take as much out of the experience as possible, and to be easily satisfied rather than easily annoyed. Thus, despite being jetlagged during our interview from a flight from Berlin, he remains positive and passionate about his choice of careers. Recognizing that “this job has given me so much,” he is eager for the opportunities modeling allows him to give back. “It’s a gift to be able to do that,” he says earnestly. “This will be the first interview where I admit it’s not a bad gig.”



Are there particular projects you’ve especially enjoyed or people you’ve really liked working with?

I really haven’t worked on a really un-enjoyable shoot in my career. I just worked with Madonna, and that was pretty cool. But everyone has different things, different personalities, that are all so appealing to me. You can’t really name-out one because people are individuals. There’s something nice about everyone, and there’s something great about working with him or her. So I’m going to narrow it down to Madonna.

Has it been hard dealing with your success?

I didn’t know how to handle it at first. Truthfully, I didn’t. I could have been a little bit of a prick at that time. I was seventeen! But I’ve been so lucky to encounter people who just keep teaching me lessons about life and how to deal with things. It’s still a growing process; the career developed fast, and maybe me not so much. But I’m definitely working on it. It’s getting to be enjoyable now instead of a chore. Certain aspects, like getting on a flight—now I can enjoy getting on a flight, talking to people, and not just having to worry about the job. I’m taking this job for everything it is and everything it has to give. Before, I was really underappreciating what I had, but now I’m definitely ten times more appreciative.

Clearly, your manager has been really important to you. Are there people in your life who have been particularly helpful or supportive?

I have the best friends and family a guy could ask for. I have a gorgeous 16-year-old sister, Shannon and an older brother, Chris, who’s 24 turning 25. I have a great mom, Caran, and a great dad, John. I’ve been friends with the same guys since I was four or five years old, Randy, Antoine, Matt, Adam and Chris. I just have a really close-knit, small group. It’s like, when the music video with Madonna came out, my uncle Rick called me right away and told me how happy he was. I didn’t even see it yet! I had just gotten off a flight, and I had thirteen or fourteen voicemails. I talk to my mom and dad every day. I come from a very close-knit life, and I have the best grandparents ever. Every time I’m back, I spend the night at my Pa-pa’s, or I go see my grandma in Florida. I just have a great surrounding around me, and I think that’s what kept me grounded the most. I’m only an hour-and-ahalf away from home in New York, but you feel so far away. Just talking to my little sister after school, I’m right back there. It’s really nice.

What are your other passions outside of modeling?

I golf—I golf quite a bit. I wakeboard during the summer with my buddies back in Georgia. Randy, Antoine, Adam, and Chris, we all just wakeboard all summer, which is really beautiful. It’s on this great Lake Allatoona, and we go around to different lakes now and do it. And I fish. I have a huge passion for fishing. I’m probably a shitty fisherman, but I really love to fish. I could sit on a boat for twenty-four hours and be completely content with my life. I really love fishing, and I work on my cars.

What else comes to mind when you hear the words love and passion? How does it influence your work?

I have a huge passion for this job. There are certain jobs where I’ll find out what the theme of the job is, and I’ll just try to create it. I definitely get into it. As for love, I have a love and a hate for this job. I told you that this job has given me so much. I can’t be an ass and say I hate it, I hate being a male model. This will be the first interview where I admit it’s not a bad gig. But I hate the job too, because I’d love to see my family more. But so would everybody. Some people would love to travel more. I’d replace some of that travel to see my family. Everyone’s going to have a problem with something. Mine just happens to be being away from home. I’m a good ol’ Georgia boy.


All clothes by DIOR HOMME





HAIR: ANNA BERNABE @Eamgmt for Oribe Hair Care

MAKE UP: CHICHI SAITO @B Agency NY for M.A.C cosmetics





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