SEBASTIANO SERAFINI セバスティアーノ セラフィニー : MODEL, ACTOR, SINGER IN TOKYO JAPAN. LUCA, NIHONJIN NO SHIRANAI NIHONGO 日本人の知らない日本語
Recently, you’ve been seeing a lot of this pretty face on La Carmina blog. Who exactly is Sebastiano Serafini ( セバスティアーノ セラフィニー )? When I posted the Candy Spooky Theater video, a few of you recognized him as a regular cast member in the Japanese TV drama Nihonjin no shiranai nihongo (日本人の知らない日本語).
Seba is a successful model, stylist, actor and singer working in Tokyo, Taiwan and Hong Kong (and right now, LA). I’m sure you’re aching to know: what is Sebastiano’s story? How did he arrive at these dream jobs? So I tied him up and subjected him to a thorough interrogation. Hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did!
LA CARMINA: Tell me about your background, and how you launched your career as a model.
SEBASTIANO: I come from a small village in northern Italy. At age 10, I auditioned and won a role in an Italian TV drama. When I was 15, I was discovered by a Roberto Cavalli scout, and decided to work in Milan as a model. Ever since, I’ve been working and supporting myself. I modeled in Hong Kong and Taiwan for a few years. In April 2009, I moved to Tokyo and have been here ever since (although I often travel for jobs).
LA CARMINA: Which languages do you speak?
SEBASTIANO: I speak Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and English, thanks to my mixed heritage.
LA CARMINA: What type of modeling work do you do in Tokyo?
SEBASTIANO: I am the main model for several brands, including BlaBlaHospital and Stand Up! The Fragile. I’ve modeled for h.NAOTO, Paul Smith, True Religion, Diesel, Gstar, Nike and Uniqlo. This month, I was interviewed for Fashion TV, walked in a hair show for Toni & Guy, and was in advertisements for Sony and Casio. I also styled and modeled 10 brands for a CNN article, as well as other designer items for a secret project. On January 2nd, I will be in a TBS variety show (Tokyo readers, please watch!)
LA CARMINA: How do you get model jobs in Tokyo?
SEBASTIANO: I’ve been working for years as a model before I came to Japan, so I built up a portfolio and references. I started with a Japanese modeling agency, but now I freelance. That way, I have the freedom to do acting work as well. Many of my jobs are through referrals and connections.
LA CARMINA: Was it hard to become a model in Japan?
SEBASTIANO: It was difficult when I first moved here. I don’t fit into the usual white, Asian or bi-racial looks that are in demand. But my employers had good experiences working with me, and networking led to more jobs. The industry is all about building relationships.
LA CARMINA: Tell me about your work in Japanese acting.
SEBASTIANO: This year, I was a regular in the TV comedy-drama, Nihonjin no shiranai nihongo (日本人の知らない日本語). The story centers on a Japanese language teacher (played by Riisa Naka), and I’m one of the foreign students in her class. The DVD for the first season was just released. My character became quite popular, and I received over 400 fan letters and presents! I just wrapped filming in a movie that will be out next year, but the details are secret for now.
LA CARMINA: Nihonjin no shiranai nihongo is adapted from a manga. How is your character different from the original version?
SEBASTIANO: In the manga, my character is named Louie and is a French otaku. The script wanted me to have straight short hair and wear nerdy t-shirts… but thankfully, the producers liked me and tailored the role to be closer to my personality. The character is now an Italian student named Luca. I wear punk clothing by BlaBlaHospital and other designers I model for, and have Visual Kei style hair. The manga artist, Nagiko Umino, told me she liked how I played the character, so that makes me happy.
LA CARMINA: In addition to the acting and modeling, you are working with prominent Japanese music producers on your first album. How did this come about?
SEBASTIANO: I met various musicians and producers through my work, and they offered to work with me on my music. I’m collaborating with a composer who works with Ayumi Hamasaki, SMAP and Yuna Ito.
LA CARMINA: What can we expect?
SEBASTIANO: Most of the songs I’ve done so far are ballads, but the new music I’m working on will have a J-rock sound. I am currently deciding which record label to sign with, and hope to have a CD out at the end of next year.
LA CARMINA: What’s your advice for people who want to succeed as models, actors or singers in Tokyo?
SEBASTIANO: Do more than people expect of you. You’ll gain a good reputation, and people will want to keep working with you. It’s good to network and think of ways to bring people together. For example, I introduced the BlaBlaHospital designer to the stylist of my TV drama, and I am going to collaborate with a major fashion brand as a designer and model. Right now, I’m collaborating with La Carmina and LA Weekly on a major photo feature… can’t wait to show you!
LA CARMINA: What is your five-year goal?
SEBASTIANO: I’d love to be on Kamen Rider. And it would be my dream to have a video game or manga base a character design on me. I hope I can continue growing with my music as well.
Did the interview inspire or surprise you? Is there anything you’d like to ask Sebastiano? Please feel free to leave him questions in the comments.
Japanese Word of the Day: Isshoukenmei = Work hard, with your best effort
Song of the Day: セラフィニー セバスチァーノ – Sebastiano sings Shayne Ward – Breathless