the shapeshift­ing ‘it’ girl talks cre­ativ­ity, writer’s block and over­com­ing ad­ver­sity


I’m sit­ting across from Cara Delev­ingne in a suite at New York’s hip Crosby Street Ho­tel. Dressed in white em­bel­lished jeans and a black-and-white striped silk shirt, she kicks off her heels and props her bare feet up on a chair. From the start, it’s clear that Cara’s never been shy about be­ing for­ward, in her ev­ery­day life as much as her ca­reer choices.

The bushy-browed Brit is best known for strut­ting down the cat­walk for the likes of Chanel, Saint Lau­rent and Givenchy. But in 2016, Cara an­nounced that she was putting her mod­el­ling ca­reer on the back­burner in favour of other, more cre­ative, pur­suits. The de­ci­sion caused a rip­ple of shock through the fash­ion in­dus­try. A favourite among de­sign­ers and fash­ion­istas alike, Cara’s de­ci­sion to step down from her pedestal af­ter only a few years in the busi­ness seemed pre­ma­ture.

Yet a lit­tle over a year later, and still only in her mid-twen­ties, she’s in the early stages of a dar­ing and lu­cra­tive act­ing ca­reer that has al­lowed her rebel at­ti­tude to shine, com­plete with ringladen fin­gers and mul­ti­ply­ing tat­toos.

Though it might seem like Cara has had a dream ca­reer run so far, this po­lite and per­fectly poised girl from a wealthy Bri­tish fam­ily suf­fered en­dur­ing lone­li­ness as a child, de­pres­sion as a teen and, more re­cently, con­fi­dence-crip­pling pso­ri­a­sis. Yet she has be­come one of the most piv­otal mod­els of the Mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion, a re­lat­able ‘it’ girl and a role model to ador­ing fans of all ages.

“It feels crazy when peo­ple tell me I’m a role model,” she says, look­ing gen­uinely per­plexed at the con­cept. “Grow­ing up, I felt very lonely and I didn’t know ex­actly who to look up to. So when kids say, ‘you helped me do this,’ or, ‘you helped me fol­low my dream,’ that’s the most amaz­ing thing, to be able to help some­one be who they are.”

While some public fig­ures take a mea­sured ap­proach to so­cial me­dia, Cara has been outspoken on bul­ly­ing, sex­u­al­ity and de­pres­sion. (It may be a clever way to take con­trol of her im­age but it also comes from the heart. She told US Elle mag­a­zine last year, “I couldn’t just sit there and lis­ten to these girls, and boys, too, but usu­ally girls, say this stuff about bul­ly­ing, about their sex­u­al­ity, de­pres­sion, and guilt and sui­ci­dal thoughts and just all of it, without be­ing like, ‘I have been through that, and it’s go­ing to be okay.’ I mean, f**king be­ing a teenager su­u­ucks. And I some­how came through the other end.”)

But she says that while she doesn’t like to let her per­sonal life af­fect her work, she does view her ex­pe­ri­ences as her very own act­ing school. “You take what you need to make that char­ac­ter and throw away the bits you don’t.”

Since head­ing to the sil­ver screen, she’s scored plenty of star­ring and sec­ondary roles in cin­e­matic hits in­clud­ing Pa­per Towns, Pan and Sui­cide Squad. “I’ve been very, very lucky with the parts I’ve done and been given. They’re all strong fe­male char­ac­ters. Al­ways kick-arse… I learn about my­self ev­ery time I play a role.”

Her up­com­ing role in sci-fi ad­ven­ture flick Va­le­rian and the City of a Thou­sand Plan­ets is no ex­cep­tion. “[My char­ac­ter] is very hard work­ing, very strong, and isn’t scared to speak her mind, which is prob­a­bly a trait that I have,” says Cara. “She’s a hope­less ro­man­tic, you know… She’s very old fash­ioned in the sense that she re­ally be­lieves in love, and I think that is the most sim­i­lar thing we have.”

The film is directed by French film im­pre­sario Luc Bes­son, of Lucy fame, who reached out to Cara. Af­ter the two had break­fast in LA there was no au­di­tion as such. In­stead, she was of­fered the role and sent the script af­ter a meet­ing in Paris where she was put to task as an ac­tress. “I had to pre­tend to be an an­i­mal, or lis­ten to a song and dance without hear­ing it.” The script was so top se­cret that it ar­rived with its own body­guard, who sat with Cara while she read all 300 pages of it.

She ac­cepted the role and shines in it as Lau­re­line, who is rac­ing against an in­ter­ga­lac­tic threat. But while film­ing

GROW­ING UP, I felt very LONELY and I didn’t know ex­actly who to LOOK UP to.

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