Wonderland.

EMILIO SAKRAYA

The Warrior Nun star stops to reflect on what’s next, and why he hopes falling in love and settling down is on the horizon.

Emilio Sakraya wearings in loose fitting clothing in a river

Shirt by DIOR MEN by KIM JONES and truosers by LOEWE

Emilio Sakraya wearings in loose fitting clothing in a river
Shirt by DIOR MEN by KIM JONES and truosers by LOEWE

Taken from the Autumn 2020 issue. Order your copy now.

Emilio Sakraya is travelling through the bustling streets of Berlin from one meeting to the next when he hops on our call. “I hope the background noise isn’t too loud,” he laughs apologetically, “I didn’t have time to find a room!” Not only is this 24-year-old in the process of shooting an upcoming Netflix adventure series and a new Til Schweiger movie, but he is also gearing up for the release of his debut pop album, Roter Sand. Giving a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘always on the go’, the humming streets around him quickly fade as we delve into the beginnings of his flourishing career.

Sakraya has been in front of the camera since he was just nine years old. “I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” he explains matter-of-factly. “My mum always tells me that I used to say ‘I want to become a fan, like Brad Pitt…’ I thought that fan meant actor.” His latest project, Netflix’s Warrior Nun, has brought him to the brink of stardom he’s always dreamt of. “It was a huge step in my life,” Sakraya emphasises. “I met so many inspiring people from all over the world and got to film in incredible settings across Spain.” The manga-inspired series follows the mythical journey of a young girl who, after being resurrected from the dead and gifted supernatural powers, joins a secret sect of demon-hunting nuns.

Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Stranger Things, but with an even more subversive heroine. Sakraya plays JC, the main love interest, and the alluring leader of a band of misfits who spend their time rebelling against the system. Driven by spontaneity and self-discovery, he chooses to live a life ungoverned by the rules of society.

Emilio Sakraya in white jumper and blue jeans lying down

This spread: Jumper and trousers by LOEWE at mytheresa.com, shirt by MAGLIANO and Emilio’s own jewellery

Emilio Sakraya in white jumper and blue jeans lying down
This spread: Jumper and trousers by LOEWE at mytheresa.com, shirt by MAGLIANO and Emilio’s own jewellery

Barely pausing to digest the success of Warrior Nun’s first series, the German actor already has another Netflix show in the works. Set in 2070, Tribes of Europa tells the story of three siblings who are fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic Europe that has been torn apart into fractious ‘tribes’. “I was so excited to be involved in this sci-fi drama, because it is so rare to get a project like that in Germany,” he says, explaining that while it might be set in a futuristic world, this adventure series strikes an eerie chord with the present day. “The bizarre coincidence is that the show is about the aftermath of a pandemic which has spread across the world.”

He might be making a name for himself in the world of fantasy drama, but Sakraya refuses to be pigeonholed into one genre. “I love fantasy, but if I had to choose, the roles I’m really passionate about are those which are closer to something real,” he admits. It’s exactly this kind of weighty role he is about to take on in an upcoming Til Schweiger movie, which tells the nuanced, hopeful story of a teenager (Sakraya) diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and how he and his family grow to understand it.

While Sakraya has been devoted to playing make-believe since before he can remember, it has always been important to him to have another creative outlet. “First and foremost, I’m an artist,” he insists. “The problem with acting is that you have to wait for a project to come. But music is something I have always been able to instantly do at home. I can just pick up the guitar and sing.” The multihyphenate’s upcoming debut album is a collation of everything he has been working on over the past four years, effortlessly melding hip-hop beats with slow piano tracks to craft his own brand of acoustic and electronic pop. “It took me a long time to discover what kind of music I stand for as an artist,” he tells me openly; “it was a very long journey, but I’ve finally found my sound.”

Lyrically, Roter Sand provides a window into the private world of the man behind his many characters. “What I really love about doing music is that it is the exact opposite of being an actor. With my music, I am the director and the writer, and everything is centred around my own personal experiences, thoughts and feelings.” He pauses, carefully adding: “As an actor in the spotlight, people can forget that I am also just a human. That’s why it’s always been very important to me to be transparent and real in my music.”

Emilio Sakraya close up in blazer
Emilio Sakraya wearings shirtless standing in field

(LEFT) Shirt (underneath) by OUR LEGACY, shirt by JIL SANDER, coat by MAGLIANO and Emilio’s own jewellery (RIGHT) Trousers by BALENCIAGA

Emilio Sakraya close up in blazer
Shirt (underneath) by OUR LEGACY, shirt by JIL SANDER, coat by MAGLIANO and Emilio’s own jewellery Trousers by BALENCIAGA
Emilio Sakraya wearings shirtless standing in field

A common personal thread running through much of his music is the strain his busy schedule has put on his love life. In his recent single, “Alle Zeit der Welt” (“All the Time in the World”), Sakraya bemoans this fact. “Now I have money, but I have no time,” he sings, and “nobody with whom I can share this.” “It’s hard to know somebody, because I’m always on the road,” he explains. “But, if I were to fall in love or have those butterflies in my stomach, then I would happily make the time. It just hasn’t happened yet.”

Sakraya might be making waves in the realms of both music and acting, but on his dreams for the future, he takes a refreshingly grounded view. “I would love to just find my wifey and move somewhere close to the ocean,” he muses. “I used to dream of being a famous star, but recently I’ve discovered that, for me, the journey is the goal. Continuing to do what I love every day, that’s the dream.”

Emilio Sakraya wearings green jacket sitting down
Emilio Sakraya shirtless in black trousers standing in field
Emilio Sakraya shirtless in jumper and black trousers standing by tree

(LEFT) Jacket by CRAIG GREEN, trousers by DIESEL and shirt by BALENCIAGA at mrporter.com (MID) Trousers by BALENCIAGA (RIGHT) All clothing by DRIES VAN NOTEN

Emilio Sakraya wearings green jacket sitting down
Jacket by CRAIG GREEN, trousers by DIESEL and shirt by BALENCIAGA at mrporter.com (MID) Trousers by BALENCIAGA All clothing by DRIES VAN NOTEN
Emilio Sakraya shirtless in black trousers standing in field
Emilio Sakraya shirtless in jumper and black trousers standing by tree
Photography
Marius Knieling
Fashion
Peninah Amanda
Words
Anya Cooper
Hair and Makeup
Kristin Belger
Photography assistant
Ruben Schmitz
EMILIO SAKRAYA