To say Selah Marley is more than just a pretty face is an understatement. As one of the most coveted rising stars today, the young model/activist has spent her time juggling classes while on the verge of dominating both fashion and music.
With a strong passion, she’s ready to share with the world, the 5’3” New Jersey-native has already made her mark in fashion, walking for the industry’s biggest brands, from Yeezy to Chanel in just one short year. Marley was also handpicked by Queen Bey to be apart of her Ivy Park athletic campaign earlier this year, beating out hundreds of other girls. In doing all of this, Selah is now on the map and has the public waiting to see what she’ll do next.
Selah Marley is black royalty, and she’s claiming her throne, demanding attention, and respectfully solidifying her career as a model. Born with legendary musical genes as the daughter of Lauryn Hill and granddaughter of Bob Marley, Selah has now taken a personal leave from New York University to continue her modeling pursuits and focus on her budding music career. “Isn’t the whole point of this for me to discover myself?” Selah says, of her time in college. “Like, who was Aristotle when he was eighteen? Why can’t I have thoughts like that? Why are [philosophers] the only ones allowed to have those ideas?”
With a passion for religion and activism in tow, Selah is the free-spirit fashion and music have always craved. In the past year, she’s become one of the biggest influencers of the Instagram generation with her overflowing self-love, spirituality and positive outlook.
As we started our conversation on an early morning in May, the weather is transitioning and so is Selah, having just returned home after a stint in London, rubbing shoulders with big-name stars at parties for Kenzo and Gucci. The new It Girl is now shifting her focus back to music, as she works on creating her first EP, due sometime this year.
When Selah answers my Facetime call, she’s in a dark blue cropped T-shirt and pajama bottoms, and as we speak, she revels in her time as an eighteen-year-old girl on the cusp of adulthood. Despite the early morning, Selah’s energy is flowing. The room is still fairly dark with glimpses of sun rays peaking through. Selah’s face, bare yet radiant, strongly resembles her mother.
“I want to be more than a model and I want to be more than Lauryn Hill’s daughter. I want to make a name for myself by being true to myself.”
“Doing what I’m doing is cool,” she explains. “It’s actually really awesome because it’s something that most people don’t get to do or experience ever — especially at eighteen. I’ve definitely received a special blessing, but this life has its pros and cons.” Now with her presence online and IRL growing, Selah has been hit with the same dilemma many other social media influencers have opened up about. Even someone as fun-loving and free as Selah Marley still experiences her ups and downs. “Sometimes I don’t really have many people I can truly relate to who get what I’m doing,” she reveals. “At times, I feel kinda ostracized.”
But that doesn’t stop Selah from realizing how lucky she is.
“I know people look at me like, ‘Damn! This bitch is only eighteen?’” she laughs. “I’m sure it intimidates a lot of people that I have or have had around me.”
There’s no denying that even at the early stages of her career, Selah has already lived a life anyone would envy. With a newly formed platform that allows her to not only travel the world and work with some of today’s coolest names, including Ashton Sanders, SZA, Petra Collins, Tyrone Lebon and Proenza Schouler, Selah has found a creative outlet that allows her to interact with fans as herself, something she refers to as a “blessing.”
“I’m not sure if I will be able to have the same opportunities later if I don’t take them now,” she explains. And as someone who’s just starting out, finding the best advice to give other up-and-coming creatives is something Selah is still figuring out.
“That’s something I need to give myself!” she jokes. “I feel that any and everything we do is art — that’s why you asked me about ‘creatives’ instead of artists, models, photographers. Because too often we box ourselves into being just one thing. And realistically, that’s just not how it works. We’re multifaceted. Why limit yourself to just being one thing?” Selah definitely doesn’t. “Creativity doesn’t strap itself down to being one thing. Creation and art are natural expressions and a reflection of one’s inner-self, so I don’t feel it’s something that should be boxed in.”
As a teen who has been traveling the world on her own for the past two years, Selah Marley is trying to ready herself for the independence that comes with adulthood.
“I need to be getting ready! I need to stabilize myself a little bit more and I just need to be able to take care of myself better,” she says. “I’m not sure if I’m ready to cook for myself every single day. But it is what is.”
Though she feels unprepared for the next chapter, in a lot of ways she has had to grow up faster than some. “That being said, I feel like I had to grow up a lot faster if that makes sense. I’m still living at home in my mom’s house, though mentally and emotionally I feel a little different. Also, financially because modeling pays a lot, I’ll stop and think, ‘Yeah Selah you’re really growing up!’ I just have to be so responsible, so I had to grow up fast.”
Selah, now free of constraint, has the ability to explore and find herself. “I want to be an artist, she says. “I want to be more than a model and I want to be more than Lauryn Hill’s daughter. I want to make a name for myself by being true to myself. I don’t want to be famous off me faking it, or trying to be a certain type of person,” she continues. “I always want to be known as being real as fuck, and always being who I am.”
Even though she wants to differentiate herself from her mother’s legacy, she admits they’re very similar. “My mother is the tree and I’m definitely her apple,” she says warmly. “My mom doesn’t have to even tell me things and I’ll find things out in life and we’ll just agree. On top of that, my mom’s library is crazy and it really influences me,” she continues. “Seeing all of what she’s done, not only is it motivating, it’s so inspiring. I’ve been realizing more lately, like, ‘Wow, this is my mom!’ I was reading an interview she did during The Fugees time and just the way she acted– she reminds me so much of myself. I mean, I definitely have my dad’s traits as well, but my mom and I, we’re so much alike. We even look the same.”
Now, fully working as a model, Selah is focused on her next big move and finding her creative freedom. “It was really bogging me down,” she reveals. “And a lot of the opportunities being presented to me right now are once in a lifetime — this platform that I have is once in a lifetime. So, I just can’t pass it up. I want to take advantage of this moment and what it’s worth.”