When an agency discovers a new model one of the first questions they must ask is do you have any siblings?
by Matthew Hernon
After all, good looking genes are supposed to run in the family. They certainly seem to in the Kagami household where sisters Seira and Leyna have earned themselves quite a reputation as two of the country’s leading fashion models.
Born to a French-Canadian father and a Japanese mother, the young ladies have both been blessed with the kind of radiant, exotic appearance that is so popular in the fashion world right now. They certainly sparkle in front of a camera, yet behind all the glitz and the glamour, what are they really like?
Wanting to find out, Weekender recently met up with both of them, on separate occasions, and discovered that while they look alike, they have hugely contrasting personalities and career goals.
“We are different in every way,” said younger sister Leyna. “From the way we dress to the way we think, we are poles apart. I think there has always been a rivalry between us; I just didn’t realize it until my career took off.
“It was Seira who introduced me to this industry, but I don’t think I will be following her into the entertainment world. I could never do what she is doing. I want to concentrate on modelling, whereas she is trying to be everything; an actress, singer, comedian. I get the feeling that she finds it really difficult.”
If she does, she doesn’t show it. Seira seems to be at home in the celebrity world. In 2009 she left Now Fashion, where she worked alongside Leyna, to join Amuse Inc. in order to get more TV work. Since making the move she has starred in movies, dramas and a number of variety shows including Dining with the Chef, a popular Japanese cuisine cooking programme on NHK World that is filmed entirely in English.
“Japan is not like America or the UK; here you are expected to be able to do everything,” Seira explained. “Of course there are times when it is hard and I can get nervous especially when I am on a programme with certain comedians. That said I really love entertaining, meeting new people and trying new things. It is such a fun industry to be involved in.”
Seira has seen her stock rise in recent years and is now a big name in Japan. As a result she appeared to be more media-savvy than her sister when we sat down for the interview. Her answers were more cautious and careful. Her younger sister, on the other hand, spoke with greater freedom and was far more expansive in her responses.
Leyna came across as someone who really likes to talk, even though a degree of shyness also came through. Surprisingly for a model, she seemed reluctant to show off her pictures and was genuinely embarrassed when I looked through them, especially when we stopped at the semi-nude picture she did with Seira for the cover of Anan, one of Japanese’s most popular magazines.
“I initially didn’t want to do it and do feel self-conscious when people look at that picture, but in the end I was glad I did it. I don’t think it is pornographic at all, it was kind of classy and it has undoubtedly helped my career. My parents were also happy with it. My Dad was a little angry at first, but when it came out he bought loads and gave them to his friends. Showing off half-naked pictures of his daughters! It was too weird, I had to stop him in the end,” she says laughing.
Seira, meanwhile, didn’t really need much persuading to do the shot. Seemingly the more confident of the two, she revels in the attention she receives and knew the offer from Anan was something they couldn’t turn down.
“It was a major thing,” she says. “I mean as a model in Japan it doesn’t get much bigger than appearing on the front cover of Anan. I know Leyna was really nervous about it and so was I to a certain degree. More than anything though, I felt excited about doing it.”
Unfortunately, now that they are working for different agencies, we are unlikely to be seeing them together in many photo shoots in the future. Like the Delevingne sisters (the current “It girls” of the fashion world), Seira and Leyna Kagami are independent young women determined to go their own way. Yet as they head off on different career paths, it would appear that both are moving in the right direction.
Main image: Leyna Kagami