Cover star Bella Thorne getting glam on the set of our live cover shoot
When I arrive at Bella Thorne’s gated Encino family home in Los Angeles, her friend answers the door (I later learn he’s part of her tight-knit “crew” of friends) and two dogs— one very large wolf-husky mix (Voodoo) and one very small teacup Havanese (Kingston)—come barrelling out. Before I have time to ask him his name, he disappears to fetch Thorne as Voodoo and Kingston jump enthusiastically around my feet.
Moments later Thorne appears, a large Jamba Juice in hand, barefaced and dressed in a simple black jersey dress and grey-and-pink fuzzy robe. She gives me a big hug and immediately apologizes for her appearance. She had a late night with friends, she says, an evening that included a Domino’s pizza party/fight while they watched a UFC match.
We eventually settle at the kitchen table, which is covered with remnants of the food fight. Voodoo lies down at my feet (I’ve been informed he thinks he’s a cat), while Kingston bounces between my chair and the one next to me, eagerly awaiting pats.
I’m instantly struck by how real this all feels—not “Hollywood real” but hanging-at-your-friend’s-house-watching-Netflix real. Thorne’s older brother Remy and her best friend, whom she affectionately calls “Bella P.,” arrive later and join the conversation, chatting about Hades, their new husky puppy (who spends the rest of the interview lying beside Thorne), and what their plans are for the day. It’s all so easy—that is until Remy spots my recorder and says, “Wait, this is being recorded?”
Thorne’s unapologetic quest for realness has garnered her almost 10 million diehard fans who follow her every move on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Whether it’s movie nights with friends, baking at home with her mom or even during our live cover shoot, this 17-year-old actress isn’t interested in manufacturing some imagined version of perfection.
In typical Thorne style, she looks me right in the eye and says: “I’m not a basic B, and I don’t just post pretty selfies. But when I post things that are really ugly back to back—I did these car singing videos that are just horrendous—then, yeah, I’ll post that selfie, just to remind people that I’m still attractive.” Seven minutes in and we can’t stop laughing. It’s easy to see why so many are obsessed with her.
Thorne says she’s thankful to be able to connect with her fans on h
such a personal level, but the Disney Channel teen star admits that she has her share of haters. “Because I’m from ‘the Channel,’ everyone expects me to be overly innocent, but I’m very upfront with my teenage fans. They know who I am; I’m just like them,” she says. “It’s really sad that right now everything you say has to be rude, racist or sexist. Usually I’m just making fun of myself—that’s why I opened my public Snapchat. Now I can post what I want without people getting so butt-hurt about it.”
Thorne’s online followers aren’t the only ones who are critical of her life— or fashion choices. “I hate the way the media says ‘We just want to see the real Bella; we just want her to be a regular teenager,’” she says. “Well, you’re not letting me be that by calling me a slut because I’m wearing highwaisted shorts; you’re not letting me when you speculate about what I’m doing at Coachella. Teenagers go to Coachella; teenagers sometimes wear revealing clothes—it’s part of growing up and finding out who you are.”
At this point, two cats arrive at the table: Louie (she calls him her son: “Oh, my gosh, look how cute my son is!”) and May, who stomps across my notepad before leaping off the table. Even with all this realness, I ask her if she’s finding it hard to maintain a sense of balance between what she chooses to share with fans and what she would like to keep private. “Everyone goes through phases, and my phase right now is ‘I just don’t give a....’” She pauses before mouthing the word “fuck.” “What I’m about just doesn’t work for some people. But if you don’t like me, I really don’t care.” h
Silk blouse with integrated scarf (Emanuel Ungaro), cotton skirt (Nicholas K), diamond earrings (Leticia Linton) and diamond and 14-karat-gold star ring and diamond and 18-karat-rosegold striped ring (Le Vian). All bracelets, Bella’s own. Right: Diamond and 14-karat-gold star ring (Le Vian)