Why Australian supermodel Abbey Lee is calling out Hollywood

She was one of the most successful Australians in modelling, then Abbey Lee left it all behind for Hollywood. Now, she opens up about what happened when she got there.

She was one of the most successful Australians in modelling, known for her “otherworldly” and “ethereal” look.

Then Abbey Lee left the runway behind for Hollywood. Now, she has opened up about what happened when she got there.

“I was in a really great place in my career … and I was like: ‘Bye.’ I didn’t wash up or sell out and then try and come back. I just … peaced out,” she told Vogue Australia in a revealing new interview.

Playing fame-obsessed model in The Neon Demon and with a breakout performance in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Lee, 33, has become a rising force in Hollywood over the past five years.

‘There are power struggles.’ Abbey Lee has opened up about her acting career in a new interview with Vogue Australia. Picture: Hanna Tveite
‘There are power struggles.’ Abbey Lee has opened up about her acting career in a new interview with Vogue Australia.

Melbourne-raised Lee’s latest acting role is as the daughter of a white supremacist in the HBO horror drama series, Lovecraft Country.

“I think that what modelling did was it put some depths in my eyes,” Lee said, speaking to Vogue from New York.

“I get so down on myself sometimes because I wish I was this highly trained, highly intelligent actor with all this knowledge and I’m like: ‘Well, I’ve had some experience that potentially the kids who go to drama school will never have.’

“I’m very willing to drag all of those really difficult experiences out of me and use them as my work.”

She’s red-y. Abbey Lee in the October issue of Vogue Australia. Picture: Hanna Tveite
She’s red-y. Abbey Lee in the October issue of Vogue Australia.

At a time when high-profile models like Emily Ratajkowski have exposed inappropriate behaviour on shoots, Lee recalled some of her own experiences.

“They’re so male-driven there’s all this f*ckin’ ego,” Lee told Vogue.

“There are power struggles that happen a lot when there’s a bunch of men on set.” As for Hollywood, she added: “Every second male in the acting industry has a f*cking God complex. It’s like a f*cking disease.”

Abbey Lee walks the runway at the 2009 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in New York. Picture: Getty Images
Abbey Lee walks the runway at the 2009 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York. Picture: Getty Images
At a Chanel show in 2010. Picture: AP
At a Chanel show in 2010. Picture: AP

And while she found fame on strutting for Victoria’s Secret and Chanel, Lee occasionally returns to her previous profession (including for Bottega Veneta’s autumn/winter ’20/’21 campaign) – but this time, it’s on her own terms.

“My relevance is different now than what it was seven, eight years ago when I left but I just feel like I can dip in and out now when I want,” Lee said.

“When I go back and model, I’m just more relaxed. I’m like: ‘This can’t affect me. This is not my scene now,’ she said.

“I hardly do it so I can just go in, do my job and leave.”

The October issue of Vogue Australia, featuring Sia.
The October issue of Vogue Australia, featuring Sia.

The difference between modelling and acting, she said, was that “as a model it’s not about you. It’s really not”.

“It’s like you’re there to represent the brand, the clothes, the hairstylist, the make-up artist. You’re there as a representation of everybody else’s vision,” Lee continued.

“They don’t give a f*ck if you’re like: ‘Oh, I feel like my vibe is this or my personality is this.’ They don’t care. That’s not what it’s about and neither should they.”

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