Serena Motola by Roni Ahn
Photography Roni Ahn

discover the most in-demand girl in japan

Model and actress Serena Motola is so cool.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

If you’ve been to Japan recently, Serena Motola’s face will feel strangely familiar to you. You basically can’t walk down the street in her Tokyo hometown without seeing the half-Japanese, half-Italian American model turned actress in a TV commercial, on a magazine cover or towering over you in a shop window. We’ve been watching her star ascend for some time -- even sending Petra Collins over to shoot her for i-D Japan’s beautiful Female Gaze Issue.


Now 20, Serena has already been modelling for four years and acting for three -- starring in both dreamy coming-of-age movie Girls' Encounter by Yûka Eda and the forthcoming Transparent-like Japanese comedy My Father, the Bride. Apparently not one to do things by halves, this summer she revealed that she could sing, too -- releasing a cover of “Ireita Baby”, a dubby favourite by cult 90s Japanese band, Fishmans. What can’t she do, am I right?

Serena Motola for i-D by Roni Ahn

So when we heard that photographer Roni Ahn was collaborating with art director and stylist Nao Koyabu to shoot Serena with the work of Tokyo artist Makoto Egashira -- whose trippy floral blanket rooms we featured on i-D last year -- we wanted in. A minimalists nightmare, the kitchy culture clash provides the ultimate backdrop for the young superstar.

We threw some quick fire questions in Serena Motola’s direction…

Serena Motola for i-D by Roni Ahn

Hi Serena! What’s your earliest memory?
I really hated the pram.

Where did you grow up?
Tokyo, which is hectic in a good and a bad way.

Do you prefer modelling, acting or singing?
I can't decide which one is the best. I like everything so I’ll keep doing them all.

What would your dream acting role be?
A psychic.

What was school like for you?
I was taller than the others, so I was always at the back when lining up in order of height. I wanted to be at the front sometimes.

Serena Motola for i-D by Roni Ahn

You’re learning English… how's that going?
Not well. I need to study harder.


Is it weird seeing your face everywhere?
At first I was embarrassed and my head was pounding, but now I deliberately sit under the adverts on the metro. No one notices me.

What are you obsessed with?
Practicing bass guitar. I wanna have a jam session with my friends!

Are you interested in blood type personality theories or star signs?
Not really. I believe there are many more undiscovered stars in the universe and I think I belong to one of them.

Serena Motola for i-D by Roni Ahn

What's going on in Tokyo right now that we should know about?
Me and my friends are really into the Netflix program Terrace House, so we talk about it a lot.

When do you feel most confident?
NOW! When I am walking.

What are you most proud of?
At the age of seven, I caught a glass of melon soda which my cousin dropped. It didn’t break and I didn’t spill even a drop!

Serena Motola for i-D by Roni Ahn

What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
I haven't yet received it yet.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2019?
I want to go to a country I've never been to before.

Finally, where do you see yourself in 10 years?
With friends all over the world.

Serena Motola for i-D by Roni Ahn


Photographer Roni Ahn
Art direction and styling Nao Koyabu using Lamp Harajuku, Gigina and curios
Makeup artist Yuka Hirata Hair stylist Eiji Sato

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.