Credit: Steven Chee

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“I’d never shot a shoot like this,” Sarah Ellen says from the back of a black SUV in Los Angeles. “Shooting with Steven Chee and GRAZIA was particularly special as I felt like it was an evolution for me, a transition into a young woman that I feel I am becoming.” For such a miniscule frame, the 19-year-old actress, model and Instagram-machine has wonderfully prominent facial features. Followers (and passers-by alike) are inherently drawn to the influencer’s big beaming eyes and that pillowy pout, the same one that has been practising the “subtlety open” Insta-trend long before you and I. These are set off against a light dusting (or is that a serious sprinkle?) of freckles, as makeup artist Rae Morris tapped into a gold theme with minimal foundation coverage.

“I have to admit I was a little hesitant when Rae told me that we weren’t using foundation for this beauty shoot,” she says. “However, in the end, I’m so glad we didn’t. I love that you can see my freckles, they’re a part of who I am! I’ve now really subscribed to the philosophy that makeup should be about enhancing your natural features.”

Credit: Steven Chee

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Now settling into Los Angeles life – in rented Air BnBs – ahead of pilot season, Sarah Ellen wants to become the exception to the boom-and-bust cycle that plagues so many Antipodeon actors. And with a following of 923K and counting, she’s already got a head-start on her Neighbours co-stars but is hoping to convert that Instagram resume into screen credentials. “I’m focusing on working with my acting and dialogue coaches and finding scripts that are compelling to me,” she says. “I understand that no great actor found success overnight, so I know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work.”

For now though, she’s focusing on work and – by proxy – is firmly planted within the fashion set as more and more designers fill their front rows with influencers over trade professionals. “It can be so political if you think about it too much,” Sarah Ellen says shrugging off the question. “Front row or not, I’m just happy to be there to see the collections.”

Credit: Steven Chee

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Explaining her obsession for Hollywood’s golden age era, one of her favourite past-times is watching Marilyn Monroe sing I Wanna Be Loved By You, a song she says was on loop inside her head as Chee was flashing his lens. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘seductive’,” Sarah Ellen corrects me when I ask how she got into this character’s headspace. “I see the role of the woman I’m playing in this shoot as confident and totally sure of herself. She dresses up not to seduce but rather to highlight her love for expressing who she is.” And with that, here Sarah Ellen is. Freckles and all.

Cover image
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Photographer: Steven Chee
Creative Direction: Justine O’Donnell
Fashion Direction: Charlotte Stokes
Hair: Anthony Nader
Makeup: Rae Morris