Lori Harvey is seen and not heard. Literally: Although thousands of articles have been written about the 24-year-old model, until she recorded a ’90s-inspired makeup tutorial for Vogue in May, the internet wasn’t sure what her voice sounded like. Her Instagram feed (3.7 million followers) is a glamorous cascade of images of Harvey posing in designer dresses or lounging in sweatpants on a private jet. When she posts on stories, it’s usually to promote whatever she’s working on — there is rarely audio; she often doesn’t even write a caption. Her boyfriend, People’s reigning Sexiest Man Alive Michael B. Jordan, talks about their relationship more than she does, and that’s saying something: Harvey is the first girlfriend the tight-lipped MBJ has posted to main. “I actually love that Lori Harvey never talks to us,” author and cultural critic Bolu Babolola observed on Twitter. “She is rich and hot and dates the rich and hot. Why does she need to open up to the wretched PUBLIC for??”
It’s not just some meticulously assembled air of mystery. Among her peers in the socialite-model-influencer crowd — friends like Jordyn Woods, Ryan Destiny, and Winnie Harlow — Harvey is the most public yet the most unknown. Even the Harvey family, Lori says, has a running joke about her: If you have an issue with Lori, take it up with yourself because she’s not going to do anything. She considers herself quiet, but not necessarily shy. “I’m the type of person where I have to kind of feel you out and get to know you, and then I get comfortable and then my crazy kind of shows,” she says. “But if it’s an environment I’m not familiar with, if it’s too many people, then I’m more quiet, reserved, to myself, and very observant.” It’s a disclaimer of sorts: Harvey is hard to get to know.
We’re talking via Zoom on a recent summer afternoon. Harvey is sitting in her Los Angeles kitchen, dressed down in workout clothes. (She’s just left a reformer Pilates class: “We had the booty band on the entire time,” she reports. “I just feel muscles working that I didn’t even know I had, but that is what I’m really into right now.”) Harvey is nervous about being interviewed — it’s not that she doesn’t do a lot of interviews; she rarely does any. “It’s new. It’s definitely something I’m growing into because I’m very private. So just figuring out that sweet spot of giving enough, but still keeping a majority of [me] for me.” But now, in an enviable relationship with an ultra-famous boyfriend and promoting a skin care line that’s coming out soon, the model has to dish a little. It’s the newest part of her job, a job she hopes gets even bigger.
“I definitely want to have my hand in everything at some point,” she tells me. “I think Rihanna has done an amazing job and laid some really great groundwork. I love how she’s kind of done everything and done it so, so well. I think I’ll definitely dabble in different parts of the beauty industry and fashion industry.”
Harvey is starting with an ingredient-driven skin care line based on her discoveries about her own sensitive skin, but the date for the drop keeps changing. “I definitely am a perfectionist, and if something is not exactly how I envision it in my head, then I have to make changes, make changes, make changes, make changes,” she says. “I think my team is very stressed out and they’re like, ‘Lori, you said you wanted it like this.’ I’m like, ‘I know, but now I want it like this.’ Until I feel like it’s right, it’s this internal feeling that I get. You know when something’s right. So I’m like, until I get that, I keep changing and striving for what my idea of perfection is.”
Harvey grew up in a big, boisterous family. Her mother, Marjorie, married the author/comedian/style icon Steve Harvey in 2007. The pair met in 1990, when Marjorie arrived late to one of Steve’s comedy shows. According to a 2009 Essence story, “Harvey took one look and after a long silence, he pointed to Marjorie and told the audience, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know who this is, but this is going to be my wife.’” (It didn’t happen immediately. Steve would start and end his second marriage before he and Marjorie finally wed.) Suddenly Lori, then age 10, was one of seven kids. “Blending our families together was an experience because we’re all very big personalities or all very opinionated. So it was interesting, but it was good. It was fun. And now we’re all super tight, we’re super close,” Lori says. Her sisters are all so much older that Lori was the only girl growing up in a house with three boys. “They treated me like I was one of their brothers,” she recalls. “It was wrestling, skateboarding, basketball, all of that. I think I still kind of have a little bit of that in me at least just in how I dress: Most of the time I’m in a sweatsuit or just really chill casual. I want to be comfy.”
One of many benefits of growing up in such a big family: With seven nieces and nephews, there’s no pressure to give her parents more grandkids; Lori can be the fun auntie. “I get my dose,” she says. “I’m like, ‘OK, this is great birth control for me. Awesome. Love this.’ I can play with them, love on them, give them back.”
Harvey’s first ambition was to be an equestrian. The first time she got on a horse, she was 3 years old. Growing up in Memphis, she tried other sports and activities — gymnastics, swimming, tennis, golf, guitar lessons — but horseback riding was her favorite. When she was 14, she began competing. “My love for the sport just took over. I’m in love with horses,” she says. “That literally took up all of my time. I would be there from the time the barn opened until they closed.”
She talks about horseback riding technically, but passionately, as if she were still riding competitively: “It’s very freeing. My mind constantly is going at a million things 24/7; it’s hard for me to shut my brain down. When I’m on a horse, literally that is all I’m thinking about: me in that moment and me and that horse. You have to be very in tune to the horse and what’s going on, and picking up on them and the environment, and making sure there’s not anything around that could maybe spook them or scare them,” she says. “I did show jumping, so I’m paying attention to my distance from the jumps and the setup, and is [the horse] positioned right? So many things go into it, but it’s a very freeing experience.”
A back injury derailed her equestrian dreams, and Harvey, then 18 years old, was at a crossroads. At first, she imagined she would heal and get back out there, but her doctors believed that if she fell like that again, she could become paralyzed. “I personally was willing to take the risk. My parents were like, ‘No, you’re done,’” she recalls. “So then, I just really spent time figuring out, ‘OK, what other lanes am I interested in? What other things do I like?’ And then just developing those passions and trying to just focus on that and focus on the positives.”
She’d modeled as a child and talked to her mom about making it her new full-time pursuit. “I already was really, really into fashion, I was already really, really into the beauty space. My mom was taking me to fashion shows with her when I was younger, so I’ve always been in that world,” she says. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are family friends; the designers invited her to walk in their millennial fashion show alongside other models and daughters of famous people (Sylvester Stallone’s daughter Sophia, Lionel Richie’s daughter Sofia, Diggy Simmons). Harvey built her runway and print credits from there, approaching it all — modeling, skin care, her line with Naked Wardrobe — with the same fastidiousness with which she approached horseback riding. “I think with anything that I want to do, I want to make sure that I’m very knowledgeable about every aspect that goes into it,” she says. “I never really wanted to just be the face of something and put my name on something that I don’t really know the behind the scenes of what it is or what the material is or what the ingredients are, where it’s manufactured.”
In 2017, after a year and half of dating and bringing him along on her family’s vacations, Harvey got engaged to the soccer player Memphis Depay. (In classic dad fashion, Steve Harvey announced the engagement on Twitter: “This young man is a good one! Congrats!”) Depay (and, by extension, Lori) was an obsession of the British tabloids when he played for Manchester United. Stylish and ostentatious, he partied, proudly wore a jacket with Harvey’s face emblazoned on the back, was spotted laughing off a ticket on the hood of his Rolls-Royce. But by 2018, Harvey was “spotted without her ring,” as the tabloids put it.
Today, she reflects, her relationship with Depay feels like it happened a lifetime ago. “I grew up a lot and I learned a lot from that relationship. And so, I think just as I’ve gotten older and developed as a woman, I’ve taken that knowledge with me: learning what I like, what I don’t like, and just applying that to where I’m at now.”
There was a series of headline-generating escapades to follow. She was linked to Trey Songz and Lewis Hamilton. In 2019, she and Diddy reportedly vacationed with the rest of the Harvey family in Italy, vacationed solo in Cabo, and were spotted together in Atlanta. (Diddy’s son Christian Combs blithely confirmed the romance to the website Hollywood Life: “They [are] good. They’re just being … Private time. That’s up to them.”) That fall, according to TMZ, she flipped her Mercedes G-Wagen in a Beverly Hills accident in which nobody, miraculously, was hurt. Early the next year, she posted a photo kissing Future in Jamaica to her stories. As her star rose, Harvey seemed to feel no need to hide or explain any detail of her fabulous life, exuding a level of freedom that is rare among celebrities — or anyone with an Instagram account.
Enter Michael B. Jordan. Rumors of their romance surfaced last Thanksgiving; the pair confirmed their relationship with coordinated Instagram posts at the beginning of this year. “We met actually a few years ago,” Harvey says. “We had some mutual friends. I think we met out, just in passing.”
“How did you feel when you first met?” I ask. “Was there a connection?”
Harvey giggles. “I was like, ‘He’s cute!’”
Striking the balance between loving someone publicly but keeping what you love about your relationship private is tricky; Harvey and Jordan always talk it through. “I think we’re both very private people naturally. So we just decide, if we take a picture or whatever it is, do you want to post this? Do we not? We have a conversation about it, like, ‘You want to post this or we keep this to ourselves?’” Fans — both hers and his — ride for their romance. “We know there are people that love and support us and want to see us,” she says. “So [we want to] give just enough, but keep the majority of it just for us. We’re trying to find a balance.”
The dream, I overshare, is to follow the gospel of Rihanna: Why claim any man? Or, as Issa Rae put it to Rolling Stone when explaining why she keeps her relationship offline, “Let me embarrass myself. Don’t let a nigga embarrass you. That’s always been my focus.” Why invite the public — and their opinions — into a relationship that might not be permanent? But Jordan has achieved grid permanence on Harvey’s Instagram. Is it because the relationship is more important? Or because Harvey is becoming more willing to open up to her fans? “I think just as I’ve gotten older and interests change, I think this was something that I just decided to be a little bit more public with because it’s a more serious relationship,” she says. “So I’m just handling it differently.”
But some things are the same: In any relationship, Harvey says, someone who’ll get along with her family is a top priority. “I look for someone who is trustworthy and reliable, somebody that could be a good foundation and just stability for me. Somebody that has to be able to get along with my family. I’m so close to my family, so my family is the deciding factor in if you're going to stick around or not. If they don’t love you, our time together will probably be short.” The rest of the Harveys took to Jordan immediately: “I knew they were going to love him, which they did. [The introduction] was good. It was easy.”
I have one more question about her boyfriend: Does the title Sexiest Man Alive ever get to MBJ’s head? “No, no,” Harvey promises. “He’s super humble.”
A week after we talk, Harvey trends on Twitter for what she’s best at: saying nothing, enviably, glamorously. The rapper 42 Dugg leaked a track in which Future, at his big age, shades Harvey for moving on from their relationship: “Tell Steve Harvey I don’t want her,” he raps. In response, Harvey does not post a thread defending herself, a meme shading him back, or even a winking selfie, signaling how much happier she is without him. Her silence, she suggested during our conversation, is what her millions of followers might relate to most: “I think they get from me that I try to just not let any type of negativity or rumors or anything like that make me stoop down to that level and go back and forth with it or whatever. Just maintain my position of I know who I am, I know what’s going on,” she said. “I just try to stay up here and take the high road in every situation. So I think that would probably be what they get from me, because I am private, so I like to just give enough.”
Top Image Credits: Burberry clothing, Cartier earrings
Photographer: Pavielle Garcia
Stylist: Tiffany Reid
Hair: Lorenzo Calderon
Makeup: Sean Harris
Set Designer: Robert Ziemer
Bookings: Special Projects