THE DAY I MET...SEB MORRIS
17th March 2014
At 18 years of age, he’s won countless junior Kart Club Champion awards, the BRDE Formula 4 Vice Champion, McLaren Autosport BRDC Awards finalist, a member of the Caterham F1 Academy and the face of Jack Wills. He’s tipped to be a future star of Formula 1 and could quite easily grace the catwalks of London Fashion Week - an excellent combo! Iamfashionessa goes one to one with Seb Morris.
Arranging to meet Seb Morris for a coffee, I was a little nervous. Firstly, I’m a tea girl, surely he won’t find it weird that I don’t drink coffee? Then there was the worry he would not talk – what if he was an overly confident Justin Bieber-esque interviewee who didn’t like interviews so didn’t chat? I mean, given the impressive biography of Seb I assume he might follow suit.. Too late for anymore anxiety, the door opens and Seb walks in. Sitting down in the seat across from me, he orders his coffee (strong, black btw) and doesn’t raise an eyebrow when I order my tea – first worry down.
I needn’t have worried about any over-inflated egos either – within minutes I’m at complete ease with Seb who quickly shows his polite, charming and seriously witty manner – he has hilarious banter that makes him really likeable. I soon discover that he’s Welsh but lives in Marford near Chester, has an older brother called George and got into driving at the early age of 8. Having 2 brothers myself, who are just 7 and 9 years I was curious; how on earth did he fuel a passion for becoming a racing driver at such a young age – I can’t imagine my brothers having that much of a focus on a future career at age 8? How did it all begin, I asked?
“My friends and I used to have go-karting parties at that sort of age as typical boys do, and every time I raced against my friends, I lapped them 2-3 times. The manager of the local karting centre in Deeside in North East Wales recommended to my dad that I take it up professionally. The rest is history as they say” explained Seb. “My earliest memory has to be in my first race, when I was getting lapped by the leaders who had already been go-karting for years. They went to overtake me and I didn't see them coming. I crashed into the barriers at over 50mph literally 1-2 meters from my Grandma and Grandad. They were pretty scared to say the least!”
I nod, taking in how a go-karting party can turn out to bring such amazing prospects – who knew! In the last twelve months, the talented Seb has been signed by the Caterham F1 Team and is now sponsored by Fortec Motorsport and will be competing across Europe in the Formula Renault NEC Championship taking on world class tracks in Germany, UK, France, Czech Republic, Holland, Italy and Belgium. “It means a lot to me because I can experience all of these wonderful places in one year, and each country I go to I will be racing at their most famous tracks,” said Seb excitedly – that’s the brilliance of it too, he may have been in this racing game since age 8 but he still gets so animated and enthusiastic about it all.
I may not exactly be the world’s most informed in racing cars, but I totally understand his biggest driving ambition - Formula 1. Who wouldn’t want to be the next Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button when you have the same vision as these F1 stars? Even from chatting to him for a short time I get that in this sport you must aim big and Seb has such a focused attitude when he talks about his career – it’s obvious he truly and utterly believes in his dream. Speaking about his passion and determination, it almost makes you forget Seb is only eighteen; he seems to just know what he wants to do. Surely there must have been times he feels anxious or even fearful in making such big choices so young? Do teens really have such drive at such an early stage? I know my sister certainly does with her singing (FYI – my younger sister, Tallia Storm, has been singing since such a young age and it all paid off as she has just signed a global record deal so I get that determination can come at a young age). This doesn’t stop me thinking - how sure are we all really and what makes the difference between dreams and turning it into reality?
“I went to Kings School, Chester from the Age of 7 to 16 where I passed all my GCSE's. I then started my A Levels at Abbey Gate College, Chester. I passed my first year with A's, but it became apparent that to be 100% committed to my racing I needed to find a course and college that would fit in around my racing commitments. Through my work with the MSA Academy I was invited to go on a Level 3 extended diploma in Sport at Loughborough College. Loughborough College have worked exceptionally closely with me; my tutors totally understand the level of commitment I need to succeed in my chosen sport and work closely with me to achieve deadlines for my coursework. It’s the perfect combination” he says with a quiet confidence.
So behind the potential superstar racing driver persona, he’s pretty regular. He plays golf, tennis, goes out to clubs, loved the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, listens to dance, hip hop, R&B and house music. No time for reading though but given the choice he would opt for an autobiography of a famous F1 driver. Oh and he manages to get in a spot of modeling with Jack Wills too – y’know just incase the global racing fame thing wasn’t enough! I can’t deny it – I’m seriously impressed. Morris was included in the brand’s ‘Young Brits’ campaign, which also boasts rising stars The Loveable Rogues and Nina Nesbitt. It’s so good to see the Jack Wills approach of working with actual talent, as opposed to celebrities who are already famous for being famous. I love when brands try something new and for me it’s made me see the Jack Wills brand in a new, more creative light. You will see from the pics, Seb does not disappoint in the Jack Wills shots – he knows how to pose perfectly (my theory is plenty of selfies practice!). As if being part of this uber-cool campaign wasn’t quite doing it for this racing supreme, he even gets a full supply of JW clothes too all year round – jealous, me?
Talking Jack Wills brings a different side to our chat too – turns out he’s not afraid of some serious fashion chat, infact he revels in it! While some eighteen year old guys might rather die than admit any element of self-grooming or appreciation of styling, Seb is certainly not one of them. Although I guess when you’re going for the global success, you pretty much need to tick all the boxes. Seb confirms this, commenting, “I love fashion, I like to make sure my clothes are bang on trend, cool and a bit different. I'm always out shopping. It's another way to feel good about yourself and get another edge on your competitors - look better!”
Yes, the boy is assertive and self-confident – but I totally get why. So what would his on-trend picks be? “Lets start from the bottom. I love Russell and Bromley boots - I'm a boots man, I like to feel powerful when I walk” he says and I can’t help but appreciate his honesty in style choices (if not maybe think he’s trying to get some of Leonardo Di Caprio’s powerful ‘Wolf of Wall Street character into his fashion choices seeing as he loved the film!). He continues, “For trousers - unless part of a suit - I’ll wear something skinny from Jack Wills. Jack Wills underpants all the way, by the way” he adds with a slight smile. I laugh to myself, half taken-aback by his frank admission. But hey – if I was getting to wear JW’s finest pants every day I would be telling everyone too!
He’s not finished on the fashion side either and carries on, “For T shirts, I love Armani and Hugo Boss, but I also like TopMan and of course Jack Wills. My full holiday wardrobe will be from Jack Wills as I love their beach wear; shorts trunks, etc.” he enthuses. Oops, I think I’ve opened a can of worms getting Seb to talk style as he’s still not finished, “I love Tag Heuer watches I’m honoured to be wearing one and working with them as an Ambassador! Ray Bans for shades, and If I'm wearing a suit, you can't go wrong with Gieves & Hawkes,” he concludes happily. A man who loves fashion, can drive seriously fast cars AND has clocked up a few ambassadorial roles too? Not too shabby!
Soon the chat becomes a more relaxed one about the usual stuff; movies, singers, social media – it almost becomes like talking to one of my friends, not a famous racing driver/model/ambassador who likes to feel powerful when he walks (ha)! There are small reminders of this side of Seb of course, especially when we get talking about his fans, most of which are adoring teenage girls (and after this interview, I’m thinking he might have a few more admirers to add to his fanbase!). Beneath the steely determination and catwalk looks he’s a modest guy who hangs with his best pal, Sam Patterson, and together they form thee most hilarious double act (I meet Sam after we finish the interview and his and Seb’s banter was soon flowing!). He loves his mum and dad who support him endlessly with his driving ambitions and he loves hanging out at home most of all - throwing the odd party here and there, of course. The reality is there is not much time for normality with his packed schedule but the exciting career that awaits him is just about worth it for him. Seb’s personality is magnetic, instantly likeable and down-to-earth while still being totally cool and confident. His passion and determination in the pursuit of driving will undoubtedly take him all the way. Watch this space!