Well before Cara Delevingne made her big-screen debut, in 2012’s Anna Karenina, she was a music video star: She made her tiny-screen debut in 2010, in Bryan Ferry’s “You Can Dance.” But not since her turn in the Taylor Swift revenge fantasy “Bad Blood,” in 2015, had Delevingne lent her talents to another musician’s song (her own video for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets aside)—until this week, when the Spencer Lee Band unveiled the visual accompaniment for “River Water,” a track off the band’s recently released self-titled debut album.
It’s decidedly more somber than her previous video efforts—including appearances in music videos for Die Antwoord and Rita Ora. In the new video, Delevingne plays a homeless drifter on the streets of Los Angeles, her hair cut short and her eyes rimmed with dark circles. She wanders the streets clutching a cardboard sign soliciting change; frequently, she lights up a wad of tin foil to get high. When a stranger drops a couple of coins in her lap, her eyes light up with visible relief—this is how she’ll replenish her supply. The whole thing culminates in a dance sequence, Delevingne twirling, leaping, and clawing at her shirt on a rooftop while Lee wails the closing bars of the song.
“Her story is my story,” a caption reads at the end of the video, alluding to frontman Lee’s own period of homelessness and substance abuse. He headed west from Kansas to pursue a career in music, but ended up living on the streets in Los Angeles for three years, per People, which premiered the video; in 2017, the manager Scooter Braun, who also represents Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others, scooped him up and negotiated a deal with Republic Records.
Delevingne “completely nailed the role,” Lee told People. (In fact, despite its four-minute length, it’s definitely a meatier part than, say, Sergeant Laureline in Luc Besson’s Valerian.) “I put it out in hopes it will raise awareness and compassion.” See the full video, below.