When it comes to what attribute Lucky Blue Smith thinks has cemented his status as one of the industry’s most in-demand models, his answer is not what you’d expect. It’s not his chiseled features that hark back to a young Elvis Presley, nor his ability to make even the most outlandish pieces look utterly wearable. It’s his good, old-fashion American manners. “Always be polite; you never want to be high-maintenance,” the 20-year-old reveals. “Saying thank you to everyone on set and shaking their hands has 1,000% gotten me rebooked on jobs.”
If that’s his professional rule, Smith has surely shaken thousands of hands over the years, as the certified triple threat – model, actor, and musician – embarked on a career in the fashion industry at the tender age of 12. The Utah-born star has since worked with a stellar lineup of brands, including Tom Ford, Chanel, Fendi, and Calvin Klein, notching up as many years on his CV as peers a decade his senior.
However, Smith – whose entire family uprooted from his home state to Los Angeles after he was signed to Next Management – believes his early entry to the industry has only ever worked in his favor. “I think starting out so young has helped me understand the ins and outs of the industry much faster,” he muses. “When I went to fashion week for the first time aged 16, I kind of already understood the industry.”
Indeed, the drummer – who together with his three older sisters forms a band called The Atomics – has the kind of fashion pedigree that belies his young age. One of his first shoots was for Vogue Homme Japan with Hedi Slimane, the now-artistic director of Celine, behind the lens. “I don’t think I really understood the impact it would have,” he reminisced to Style.com years later. “Looking back, knowing how respected he is in the fashion community and how influential a designer he is, I feel I was really fortunate to have had that experience.”
By 13, Smith had a Gap campaign alongside his sisters under his belt; a few years later, on the advice of his modeling agency, he dabbled with the bleach bottle. The distinctive platinum result helped send his star stratospheric, with appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and runways such as Moschino, Ralph Lauren, and Marc Jacobs swiftly following. The former is a moment the model still regards as a career highlight. “Being on Ellen was such a crazy experience; I never ever thought that would happen in a million years.”
Most notably, Smith was one of the industry’s early adopters of social media promotion, a pioneer and icon in the age of the Insta-model. Using his platforms to arrange fan meet-ups, the model soon became a household name (especially if that house was home to a teenage girl), eclipsing the online following of established peers such as David Gandy and Jon Kortajarena. Having a digital presence, Smith says, is “one of, if not the most, important things” for a model, established or aspiring, to have nowadays, swiftly replacing a neatly bound portfolio. “Literally almost every casting asks for your socials,” Smith reveals. In fact, the model believes the online realm has made the biggest impact on the ever-evolving industry during his career, helping it change for “the better”. “It’s awesome to be able to reach people all over the world with a single post; it’s powerful for us as talent and for brands,” he adds.
On a personal level, Smith credits his young daughter, one-year-old Gravity Blue, with creating a shift in his work ethic. The runway star welcomed his first child in July 2017 with former partner (and fellow model) Stormi Bree Henley, and regularly shares snippets of his family life with his 3.2 million Instagram followers. “I’ve taken work much more seriously since becoming a father,” he reveals. “Gravity has made me so motivated. All I want to do is work and create.”
He did, however, put one dream on the back burner to spend more time with his daughter in her early months: acting. Smith, who made his movie debut in 2016’s Love Everlasting, may be most famed for his work in front of the photographer’s lens, but it’s in front of the director’s gaze where his passion truly lies. “Acting is what I want to do until the day I die,” he reveals. The star has been working with acting coaches in recent years, yet a move into full-time auditioning was delayed following Gravity’s birth. “I wanted to be there as much as I could for the first while, so the idea of being on a movie set or traveling for work was hard,” says Smith. “All I wanted to do was be around Gravity, so I took that time to get extra prepared.”
Smith now hopes to flex his dramatic muscle in the near future, citing films such as 1993 sports drama Rudy and 2006 biopic The Pursuit of Happyness as examples of his dream role. “I would love nothing more than to make an impact on someone’s life by the films I’m in,” he divulges. “I also want to be diverse with my roles, and do things that are completely unexpected.”
Less unexpected are the comparisons drawn between Smith and a young James Dean (who, the model imparts, is his style pin-up), thanks to that ruffled hair, those brooding brows, and expressive smile. And, like the Rebel Without a Cause icon, Smith can often be found in classic tees, rumpled jackets, and stiff denim – most likely purchased from Dean’s era, rather than the modern day. “I seriously only buy vintage,” the model notes. “I have a secret spot in LA I get everything from.” In fact, Smith may soon add a fourth string to his already accomplished bow, revealing he is currently working on launching his own vintage line.
Yes, he may have – marginally – wound down operations to focus on his daughter, but Smith is certainly a busy man. The model, who admits he’s “eager” to visit the Middle East, has plenty left on his bucket list, Academy Award aside. “I really need to go to Tokyo,” he reflects. “I’ve been dying to go since I was little. My dad lived in Japan for four years, and has told me so many great things.” It’s surprising that he hasn’t visited the city yet, given his lengthy career. After all, he’s spent almost half his life in front of the camera, yet to the happy-go-Lucky, the passing of time doesn’t weigh heavy when you do what you love. “I still feel like I am just getting started.”
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Photography: Ben Lamberty
Style: Davian Lain
Grooming: Brittan White using Kevin Murphy and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics
Style assistant: Breeana Walker
Photo assistants: Chris Thompson, William Manchuck