We had the good fortune of connecting with Sasha Lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sasha, why did you pursue a creative career?
Even when I was a little kid, I dreamed of becoming an artist, a model, and a fashion designer. Art always came naturally to me growing up and I fell in love with it through various mediums. In regards to art, I loved to draw and you could always find me buried in my sketchbook. When it came to fashion, I loved playing dress up and curating different outfits…I was OBSESSED with clothes and was always showcasing my makeshift one person fashion shows in the living room. What jumpstarted my love for modeling in particular was when things really got fun when my mom started to introduce me to modeling in professional photoshoots and getting to be in front of the camera at a young age.
Since then not much has changed! I always envisioned myself integrating some kind of creative outlet within any career I’d take on, because I always felt that following my heart in a path that I love, despite seeming unconventional to most, would be fulfilling and sustainable in the long run. I just can’t imagine myself in a career that has no creative foundation whatsoever, it would feel unauthentic to who I am and what I value the most if I wasn’t able to pursue what is most important to me; that is, expression through art, fashion, and modeling.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art takes on many forms as far as what I do for a living. As of right now, my art is mostly represented through my modeling career, as I’m in the process of expanding my drawing and print business endeavor. I’ve been modeling for almost 4 years now, and it has been crucial for my development as a creative person; it’s taught me resilience, confidence, acceptance. Modeling started off for me as a hobby and as a way for me to put together outfits from the various garments from closet, and in doing this it fulfilled a form of artistic expression, as I’ve always loved clothes and playing a character, being able to emote through pictures and storytelling. Through time and in building my reputation, I gained a network of other talented and driven creatives in the fashion industry that were able to join me to create beautiful projects and shoots, who ranged from photographers, set producers, makeup artists and hairstylists. This was an unexpected part of the job that became really fulfilling to my creative spirit, as not only am I fulfilled by my own artistic expression during shoots and on set, I’m also able to share thoughts, ideas, and creations with other people seeking that same fulfillment.
My journey to becoming a model was unexpected, as even though it was something I always wanted to do, in the beginning stages of pursuing it seriously I wasn’t exactly seeking it. Modeling was exposed to me at a young age, as I did photoshoots as a child due to my mother having multiple friends in the photography business. It wasn’t until much later when I was around a junior in high school that a friend of my mother’s strongly encouraged I submit to a local modeling agency that I actually took it seriously. After that it all happened pretty fast, I went to an open call, I got signed with Sigal Models in Columbus Ohio, and 2 years later was signed on to The Rock Agency in Chicago agency. To get to the point where I am now took a lot of work. It took a lot of unpaid shoots, rejections, and persistence.
Through these obstacles, there has been a lot of successes! As of recently I’ve gotten to work and collaborate with some really cool brands; I’ve worked with Kohl’s, DSW, was featured in Hollister’s Black History Month Campaign, and within the past month appeared on Vogue Italia’s website as well as the April Vanity Fair issue. I also got featured on a billboard for the 2nd time too which was pretty cool. These have all happened pretty recently and I’m pretty proud of myself! I’m excited to see what more can be accomplished within even a year from now. It’s always exciting to look back and see how far I’ve come along my modeling journey.
The modeling industry can be bittersweet as it can make or break your confidence and that axis constantly changes depending on your mental fortitude. I struggled a lot with confidence and comparison, and am still trying to break it even to this day. It’s a very hard industry that is quite literally based on how you look. Your ability to be booked is based on your appearance, weight, personality among various other things and to be honest, it can be daunting. To have the way you look be the basis of your career and how you make a living is an extremely unique situation. Modeling is not always the glitz and glamour that it is framed as, it is work and it is a job at the end of the day as fun as it is. Having a good support system to encourage me and combat the negatives along my journey has been crucial as well as the most effective way in staying level headed and confident in the face of obstacles the industry often throws. I’ve had to learn that a lot of people may not take you seriously at whatever level you may be within the industry. They may doubt your abilities. But I recognize that I’m good at what I do! I’ve come a long way to be where I’m at today and regardless of everything I love to model. I know in myself that I’m dope, other people don’t have to think the same for me to think so because especially within the creative industry but also the world as a whole, everything is subjective so why not strive to be someone YOU love?
I’m still endlessly reinventing myself in regards to my creative expression and branding. Much is on the horizon especially in terms of exploring the art world in terms of an art business, as well as my journey with modeling. To anyone thinking they may want to start their creative journey, do it! Being able to thrive in a creative career or even to have it more thoroughly integrated in your life just makes living that much better.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ooh good ol’ Columbus Ohio! A lot of people here say there isn’t much to do, to which I do kind of agree with. But, the things this city does have are actually pretty cool, it’s one of those places that has various hidden gems. For entertainment, we’ve got various choices for sports depending on what season you decide to visit. Columbus loves their Buckeyes, especially football so if it’s football season that’s always fun. The more quiet and artsy places tend to be more my speed personally, and we actually have a really great art museum in the heart of downtown. And of course I can’t forget the Short North, it’s a section of the city that has a lot of great boutiques and small business that offer basically everything like shopping, food, and drinks. Brassica and The Eagle are a MUST for food, very different vibes but I promise neither will disappoint.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to make a shoutout to my parents for always supporting me through my creative journey and always being there for me, to my boyfriend William who is always encouraging me and pushing me to be the best version of myself while navigating the creative industry. My agents, family friends, and other creatives I’ve encountered that have provided me with knowledge and support when I needed it most
Instagram: @sasha.lee @sashaleeart
1. Nick Galilei @nickgalileiphoto, Hair/ Makeup- Ava Gray @glowbygray 2. Lara Spurlock @larabellephotoandfilm 3. Ethan Benavidez @ethanbenevidez 4. Ryan Ransom @rookieransom 5. Betty Ra @photosbytheras hair/ makeup- @jeinp.gloss 6. Sasha Lee (me) @sashaleeart 7. Sasha Lee (me) @sashaleeart 8. Sasha Lee (me) @sashaleeart (@’s via instagram)