Brian 'Sene' Marc Is Everything and Nothing, All At Once

Brian 'Sene' Marc Is Everything and Nothing, All At Once

Words by Jen Hussein / Photography by Savanna Ruedy

Brian "Sene" Marc is not just an actor. He's not just a musician, a writer, or a fashion designer. He is all of these things, yet he refuses to label his career with just one title. At the end of the day, Marc is only one thing: himself, and the Brooklyn native stands out with his genuine charisma and evergreen curiosity to dabble with the unknown. From his previous R&B projects with Denitia Odigie in "Denitia and Sene" to his upcoming role in The Kill Team alongside Alexander Skarsgard and Nat Wolff, Marc is the ultimate multi-hyphenate — and this is just the beginning. PAPER sat down with the talent to discuss his future endeavors, personal transformations, and his free-spirited nature in a hectic entertainment industry.

You're an actor and a musician. What pulled you towards doing both?

I think you just wake up and feel different ways. I wrote my first script before I wrote my first album.

So you're also a writer?

Yeah. I was always, in my mind, just too naïve to think of the whole process and what it takes. I was like, "Oh, I'm going to make movies one day," and people would look at me like I was crazy. Then music started taking off more for me when I was in California, but in my mind it was just one of these things. I came back from my first big tour, and when I got back, someone was like, "What are you working on?" And I said, "I think I'm applying to this internship at this film production company." And they were like, "What, an internship?! You're finally getting attention, you're getting love."

So you don't think of yourself as just an actor or musician?

No. If I wake up and want to write something, I wake up and write. If I wake up and I want to draw something, I wake up and draw. Luckily those things take their own lives after, but I know people that really premeditate and think, "I want people to think of me as this." I think I need to get better at that, maybe. But I've never taken myself seriously enough.

It's so much better when you know how to do so many things.

It's like kids, they do what they want when they want. If they want to play with Leggos, they play with Leggos, but if they want to dress up and pretend they're a doctor they can do that. And I kind of feel like I never grew up, in that sense. I don't take no for an answer. I'm always like, "Why can't I go do that?" I think the first time I had an idea, for a short, they kept pushing me to do music videos for my album. And I was like, "Nope, I'm going to do a short film." And then I was talking to a few directors, and they said it would be around 50 or 60 grand. But then someone said, "Oh, we can do that for, like, nothing." And we did it better than I planned it. I mean now I cringe looking at it. But yeah, that was something I never thought of... limitations.

Cardigan: N. Hoolywood, Shirt: HUGO Hugo Boss

So few people are limitless.

Yeah. Someone wanted to do shirts with my face on it, and I was like, "Ehh." But after looking at everything for a few days, I thought, "What if we just made a clothing line?" And a month and a half later we had a full clothing line. And it's not because I'm like, "Oh I want to do this," but it's because I thought, "Oh, that'd be cool, I want to start designing some stuff." And so I did it, and now it's out. People keep sending me pictures of them wearing clothes I've designed. But I never thought of people wearing it, I just wanted to design it.

Do you have a stronger connection to one over the other? Music over acting?

I think it's all just built into me. Both of them. When I was little I used to bounce around to different family members to take care of me, because my mom was working. Everyone would just be unintentionally blasting music. My uncle would play classical music, my grandmother would be playing salsa and merengue while she cleaned, my pops would be playing Woodstock rock. So I just knew all this stuff and listened to it. And then when my folks split when I was younger, on weekends there was no place to really take me, so I would spend Thursday night, Friday night, the whole weekend in a movie theater. So that was like my film school.

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What did you start with first?

Professionally, music. That's where I made my bones. When I was little I played violin just to please my uncle, I wanted to impress him. I was this poor kid, growing up on Nostrand Avenue [in Brooklyn], putting my violin case down just to fight kids. So I started in arts in school, but I was broke so I modeled and did extra stuff just for income. But then, because of my music they found me for my first movie, White Girl.

You play some pretty intense characters, like Blue in White Girl, and your upcoming role in The Kill Team. How do you mentally prepare for these roles?

I think it's easy to dip into that side. I grew up in an area that's rougher than most, but I was always the joker of the family. So I always felt that need to bring in comic relief, but it's very easy to just be the serious, not f**k around person. Hanging out in the park non-stop, there was real s**t going around me. So that feels almost more natural.

Jacket: Stella McCartney, Shirt: J. Lindeberg, Sunglasses: Tom Ford

So how is that switch from growing up from a tougher area in Brooklyn to now being around the spotlight in California?

I think I lost a lot of the unnecessary edge when I moved out to California. Everyone was so cool, and I was so quick-triggered. Now I always remind myself that I'm lucky to do what I do for a living. And I don't fare well around people who take themselves too seriously. So once I stick away from that, I kind of just stay smiling and always joking around. You're basically just becoming yourself, so it's not acting a certain way, it's just growing comfortable with who you are and adjusting to different situations. But then you deal with people who grew up in entertainment, like poster boys, and you're like, "Wow while you were doing that I was in a park committing crimes." So you just grow up and adjust.

Beyond The Kill Team, do you have any other projects coming up?

I'm writing a lot right now, so I don't want to say any names or anything. I think the next step right now is that I want to say no to things unless I love them and then really work on writing and creating my own things. I'd rather work on something that my heart and soul is in, whether it's directing, acting or both, than do something just to say that I have a job or I'm working. That's the next phase: finding something that I love for the rest of the year, and then write in between.

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Are you trying to do your own writing or directorial debut?

I guess that's boxing it into an official step, but I think I just want to be a filmmaker. If I'm lucky enough, I will act for the rest of my life, I'll make music for the rest of my life, and I'll make films for the rest of my life. And again, maybe I should be a little bit better at planning it.

Are there any musical projects coming up?

Yeah, I have a record that I did. I was working out of this place called The Clubhouse, which is this Victorian mini-mansion in Brooklyn, since I moved back to New York. One of the kids who founded the house, he and I have worked on stuff forever but never dropped anything with just the two of us, so we're about to do that. It's called Saint Ballantine. And I think that I'm finally going to drop my first fully self-produced, self-recorded solo album.

Suit: Todd Snyder, Shirt and Tie: Giorgio Armani

So where did "Sene" come from?

I hated it, actually. When I was younger, I wanted to be called Ubsene, and this kid from my neighborhood kept butchering it and saying Scene. He said, "Listen, you're always talking about the things that you've seen, and none of it is really obscene, so I'm just going to keep calling you Sene." And one day I was like, "He's right." And then people would still butcher it because of how it was spelled.

Is that more of a musical alter-ego for you? Is there a difference between "Brian" and "Sene"?

No, I'm myself at all times, unfortunately. I think that I've kind of slowed down on using it. But all of my friends let me know that they'll never call me Brian. It's kind of a nickname now. I think I'm just Brian Marc, and again like everything else, I don't take myself seriously enough to where I'm just like, "You have to call me this." I don't care. As long as you don't confuse me with another artist, it's okay.

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Do you use social media? All of my friends are hooked on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook...

I went two years without having a phone. Now I can't do that. It was really annoying because everyone who was with me would get a call asking for me. People would have to track down my friends' numbers just to get to me. It was like, borderline disrespectful for my friends to be taking calls for me. So I had to cave and get one.

Would you ever disconnect again at some point?

Oh, I would love to. A social media cleanse would be nice. Someone suggested that I get something that plans out my social media for me, but that's just not real, I can't do that. People have gotten on my case for not being active enough, so I got a little more active. And it feels unnatural to me, it feels forced. So I debate, everyday I wake up and I'm like, "I'm deleting everything." My numbers are pretty modest compared to my friends, and I have no one involved helping or strategizing, that's stupid to me. And some people are like, "I don't follow anybody." And I'm like, "You're such as loser." I know a lot of people that do that stuff. Get over yourself.

Suit: Giorgio Armani, Shirt and Tie: Kenzo

Cardigan: N. Hoolywood, Shirt: HUGO Hugo Boss, Pants: Fendi

Well you're doing big projects. How would you feel if you really blew up, became a household name and started getting Stan followers?

Some people wait their whole lives for fame, and I'm just not about it. People come up on the train, and that's cool because you have a regular New York moment to talk it up and then once it's their stop it's over. I'm comfortable with that, but I don't want to be all over. I want to still be able to go to my favorite restaurant in peace, I have zero interest in extreme fame. That's why I use so many nicknames! Everyone keeps telling me to use only one moniker, but for me it's a better way to get an honest feedback. If I put out a project with the same name, some people will only say they like my new music because they saw my name in a movie I did. If you put it out under a whole different name without your picture, you'll see if people really like it.

Do you have any new music with Denitia coming out?

I'm sure we probably will make some stuff in the future, but for now not really. What people don't realize is that our band took off without us really planning it, that's why we never came up with a band name. It's just like a "you and me" kind of thing. So I think we finally waited five years to do other things, not because we didn't want to do that, but because we had other plans when we took off. Denitia was waiting five years to so her solo stuff. And not angrily, but she was about to drop solo stuff when "Denitia and Sene" took off, so it's only fair creatively for both of us to do the other things. And we never close the door, we can easily go back to that.

You have such a free-spirited attitude, it's refreshing.

Unfortunately, but I think people have focused on being famous for too long. I always focus on whatever I'm working on to come out the way I saw it, and whatever attention comes from that is from the project.

In New York, you see people rushing to get things done at a fast pace. No one chills.

I do rush about things, but that's because I want to see my ideas come to life as soon as possible. I don't want to sit on things, I'm going to keep thinking about it until it's finished, not because it has to get done on a timeline. I can't sleep until I know I finished it, I want to see the story and I want to read it, or I want to see the song finished.

Photography: Savanna Ruedy
Styling: Shawna Ferguson
Makeup: Ayaka Nihei
Hair: Rebekah Calo
Photo Assistant: Cole Witter
Styling Assistant: Charisse Thompson