On The Move

With Danny Lee

Born and raised in Wiesbaden, Germany, Danny Lee moved to Korea in 2008, a spontaneous decision which would change his life irreversibly. Since then, the 31 year-old has made Asia his second home, successfully conquering the region’s commercial modelling markets, one major city after another.

Sony. Samsung. Garnier. LG. Ford. Reebok. Nivea. Lee’s CV is packed with powerhouse global brands. Most recently he was flown to Hong Kong, China and Indonesia to shoot an elaborate commercial for luxury car brand Lexus, working with legendary director Ho Nan Hung. An adventurer, world traveller, and entrepreneur, Lee now has his sights set on a career in the US. I caught up with him to chat about his achievements, his current life goals, and what he does first thing each morning.

You have been based in Bangkok for the past few years. What do you love most about the city? I have received nothing but love from Thailand. I can’t even tell you how much kindness I encounter there on a regular basis. Thai people are really something special and Bangkok has been a real home for many years now. It embodies everything I love in a big city: it puts you in another gear, and it is alive with energy and opportunities.

In what ways, large or small, has modeling changed your life? It has really changed everything for me. Maybe not the job itself, but everything that comes with it. Travelling the world, making new friends, trying new things, falling in love, visiting amazing places, learning about other cultures… all of these experiences have changed my dreams, the way my spirit has evolved, the way I perceive other people, and the things that are important to me, even my life’s purpose. Everything has changed.

Who have been your favourite clients to work with? Samsung has been a consistent and favourite client of mine throughout my career. I love their projects, their products and especially the amazing production teams I’ve worked with. Another favourite is Intercontinental Hotel Group. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with IHG in some truly wonderful tropical locations that I never thought I’d ever get the chance to visit.

In the past few years you have started to focus closely on health and fitness. Why did you choose this field? I sense that a lot of people are willing to change and make healthier choices but don’t know where to start. I started studying health and fitness so that I could pass information on to others in a clear and effective way, to put myself in a position where I could contribute something positive to other people’s lives. The more I travel, the more I realise that people tend to overemphasise the importance of money and thus trade it for commodities that are far more valuable, like their health. In my opinion, the most valuable asset in life is your health. Just think about it. Your entire life is experienced through your mind and body. Your body is the most incredible tool you will ever own; it’s like a biological space suit that navigates you through life. If you take good care of it, your body can take you wherever you want to go with the power, strength, vitality and energy you need to get there. On the other hand, you can have all the money, success, and fame in the world but you can’t enjoy any of it if your mind and body are sick. So for me, health always comes first.

You’re a strong believer in practising a good morning routine. Give us a quick overview of yours. I usually start my day with movement, completing a quick 5–15 minute mobility routine from head to toe right after I get out of bed. This gets the blood flowing and keeps my joints healthy. The next step is to hydrate and practice gratitude. I drink a big glass of fresh water and think of three things I’m absolutely grateful for. I then meditate for 5–15 minutes and pray, giving thanks for the blessings in my life. After that I write in my journal and set some goals for the day. By doing this routine every day, I invest in my mind, body, and spirit before I even leave the house. It gears me up for anything the day might throw at me, so it’s a simple but powerful process.

You recently spent some time exploring the US. Why did you decide to take this trip, and what did you learn along the way? It has always been a big dream of mine to visit the US. I grew up with comic books, TV shows, music and movies from the States so I had a natural curiosity about it. When I got there I was blown away by the diversity of the nature and landscapes. It was truly beautiful.

Having spent most of your career in Asia, what is it that attracts you to a different market like the US? I’m driven by the idea of exploration and potential opportunities. After eight years in Asia I’ve got a good idea of what’s possible here, so now I feel like exploring again. What else is out there?

What goals are you currently working towards? I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to make some big changes and take on new challenges to help me to grow, discover and learn. It’s not official yet, but a career in acting has definitely crossed my mind.

What projects are you currently working on? I’m in the process of creating my own workout system which focuses on the areas that most people neglect but which are absolutely imperative: joint health, core strength, and mobility. It’s designed to build a bulletproof body frame as a foundation for whatever your sport is. I’m also working on a website which will help models tackle big topics like budget planning, insurance, legal advice, and taxation. International modelling is one of those professions where things aren’t exactly textbook and it is often very difficult to find good answers.

What motivates you to work hard? Ultimately I want to be able to give back as much as I can before I peace out. I work hard to increase my capacity to give to the people around me. Winston Churchill said ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give’. That pretty much sums it up.

Speaking of work, where can we see some of yours? @happy_danny | www.dannylee.de