Ruby Rose

Ask Ruby Rose to re­flect on the pros­per­ity of the past 12 months and the usu­ally ver­bose DJ-turned-ac­tress is left mo­men­tar­ily speech­less. “It’s been pretty wild,” she laughs, speak­ing from a ho­tel room in Cape Town, where she’s shoot­ing Res­i­dent evil: th

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It’s quite the un­der­state­ment. From flm­ing the 2014 short, Break Free (in which she morphs from a long-haired femme fa­tale into a beau­ti­ful James Dean-es­que dude – com­plete with strapon), to her ro­bust ap­pear­ance on hit se­ries Orange is the New Black, the 29-year-old has be­come a global phe­nom­e­non. Not con­vinced – well, she’s be­come pap wor­thy, fled a de­mure Van­ity Fair fea­ture and last month joined singer (and fel­low tatt fan) Ed Sheeran as co-host of MTV’S Euro­pean Mu­sic Awards. “There’s a say­ing that ev­ery overnight suc­cess is 15 years in the mak­ing,” she of­fers of her ‘sud­den’ as­cent. “I get a lot of Amer­i­cans say­ing, ‘This hap­pened so quickly for you, like prac­ti­cally overnight.’ You have to kind of bite your tongue, be­cause you want to go, ‘Well, ac­tu­ally…’” It’s been three years since Rose, known to most Aus­tralians for an ex­tended stint as an MTV VJ, packed her bags and moved to Los An­ge­les – look­ing, sim­ply, for some­thing more. “I could have stayed and had a nice ca­reer in Aus­tralia, but you have to keep evolv­ing, keep chang­ing and you have to rein­vent your­self.” Prob­lem was, she wasn’t sure how to. “It was dif­fcult, I had lost a lit­tle bit of who I was – so I didn’t know what I was look­ing for.” Those early days in LA were rough – though she was up for an­other chal­lenge con­sid­er­ing hers is a per­sonal story inked by a tur­bu­lent, at times abu­sive, up­bring­ing that prompted thoughts of sui­cide and bouts of se­vere de­pres­sion. “I’ve never re­ally had an easy ride, I guess, so I was quite pre­pared to fght.” Still, there came a point where she couldn’t even clam­ber out of bed. The work wasn’t com­ing in, agents wouldn’t see her, and stu­dios weren’t in­ter­ested. “I was so down and out,” she re­calls. “I don’t think I left the house for three months.” Plagued by swirling and dis­trac­tive thoughts about chuck­ing it in and catch­ing a plane home, Rose gave things a fnal shot with Break Free – a story about her own ex­pe­ri­ences with gen­der flu­id­ity, which she’d wanted to tell for 10 years. She posted the fve-minute flm, a project she also funded and pro­duced, on­line in July 2014. It blew up – 30 mil­lion Face­book views with 13 mil­lion on Youtube, and count­ing. “That ex­pe­ri­ence made me think this is what I need to do,” she says, adamantly. “I need to get back into writ­ing and di­rect­ing and pro­duc­ing, and make short flms. I was like, ‘Why didn’t I do this ear­lier?’” Those same Hol­ly­wood types who months ear­lier weren’t in­ter­ested now came call­ing – Rose promptly cast in Emmy-win­ning se­ries Orange is the New Black as Stella Car­lin, a ri­val for Piper’s (Tay­lor Schilling) af­fec­tions.

It’s a no-brainer that a beau­ti­ful, tat­tooed les­bian would be snapped up for a show about a women’s pri­son, but the Aus­tralian demon­strated she was more than just small-screen eye candy – quickly es­tab­lish­ing her­self as sea­son three’s break­out star and an ac­tress to watch. “It’s pretty cool,” says Rose of the broad­ened pub­lic profle OITNB’S de­liv­ered, while claim­ing an on­go­ing want and “re­spon­si­bil­ity” to re­main vis­i­ble for the LGBT com­mu­nity. “But it’s not one that comes with any kind of heavy weight,” she says. “I don’t feel I’m car­ry­ing this bur­den around. I ac­tu­ally be­lieve it’s part of the rea­son I’m here – to be the per­son I didn’t have grow­ing up. It was alien­at­ing, I felt like a lep­rechaun.” This de­sire to be sup­port­ive is cen­tral to her strong, of­ten em­phatic, vis­i­bil­ity on so­cial me­dia – to con­nect with those, es­pe­cially young­sters, with no other out­let dur­ing dif­fcult times. “I have fans who write to me, gay or straight, who say I’m hav­ing a re­ally tough day, and they re­late to me for what­ever rea­son… And I want to be there to catch them if they’re go­ing to fall.” As for the ob­vi­ous – Rose points to Aus­tralia’s fail­ings with mar­riage equal­ity as ar­chaic. “It’s so ridicu­lous that this is even still a con­ver­sa­tion – I re­ally look for­ward to the day it’s not,” she says. “In­evitably, it’s go­ing to have to be­come le­gal. It’s just a ques­tion of who’s go­ing to have the balls and the guts to do it. I thought Ju­lia [Gil­lard] might, and that was dis­ap­point­ing when she didn’t. I knew [Tony] Ab­bott wouldn’t. I think with [Malcolm] Turn­bull it seems like the is­sue is on the back­burner un­til they sort out what is even hap­pen­ing there. But it has to hap­pen – you can’t con­tinue to dis­count peo­ple based on their sex­u­al­ity.” Rose cred­its fancée, fash­ion de­signer Phoebe Dahl (grand­daugh­ter of iconic author Roald), as pro­vid­ing her life with more bal­ance. The pair, to­gether for two years, met at a party in Los An­ge­les. Rose orig­i­nally passed on the in­vite – cit­ing men­tal fragility. That was un­til told of the pet pig liv­ing at the party house. “An­i­mals are great heal­ers, so yeah, I went for this pig, and walked away with a fancée.” Ad­mit­ting that each and ev­ery day re­mains a bat­tle – “you have to fght the anx­i­ety, fght the de­pres­sion” – Rose is learn­ing to em­brace her new­found suc­cess: as some­one who de­spite some per­sonal lows, is on the up and up. “I look at how far I’ve come as a hu­man, and how far I’ve come as an ac­tor, and a per­former, and to see the per­son I am now…” she says, trail­ing off. “I’m al­ways pinch­ing my­self. It’s amaz­ing. Th­ese days, I jump out of bed. ” n

‘Ser­ena’ bra, $97, and match­ing briefs, $90, both by Yas­min Es­lami; leather ‘Ink Splash’ boots, $3600, by Chris­tian Dior; la­tex gloves, POA, by baby­likesto­pony; gold ‘Love’ ear­rings, $5200, by Cartier.

Cot­ton-blend ‘Co­larado’ body­suit, $395, by Wol­ford; leather ‘Ink Splash’ boots, $3600, by Chris­tian Dior; gold/ di­a­mond/tsa­vorite/ gar­net/onyx ‘Panthère de Cartier’ ear­rings, $54,500, and gold/ lac­quer/peri­dot/onyx ‘Panthère de Cartier’ ring, $33,800, both by Cartier.

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