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Meet Sasha Lane – the ac­tress bring­ing a fresh spirit to Hol­ly­wood

pit’s be­cause Hol­ly­wood hap­pened to her, and not the other way round, that 22-year-old Sasha Lane doesn’t seem pre­oc­cu­pied with clam­our­ing to please it. ‘I’m pretty good at stick­ing to my guns,’ she says. ‘I don’t care how much money they’re of­fer­ing, or how big the role, or how cool the party is. I just don’t take shit from peo­ple. I’ve been asked, “Will you switch your hair?” Fuck, no. What for?’ she says, point­ing em­phat­i­cally at her dread­locks.

The star of An­drea Arnold’s Amer­i­can Honey, a film that won the 2O16 Cannes Jury Prize, was a 19-year-old psy­chol­ogy stu­dent with no act­ing ex­pe­ri­ence when she was spot­ted by the di­rec­tor on a Florida beach dur­ing Spring Break. A month later, she had the lead role op­po­site Shia LaBeouf in the gritty film about run­away kids sell­ing mag­a­zines – it opened to wide­spread crit­i­cal ac­claim for Sasha’s vis­ceral, com­pelling per­for­mance.

Just three years ago, she was un­cer­tain about the fu­ture. Now, she’s one of the most sought-af­ter young ac­tresses out there, with a string of big re­leases hit­ting cin­e­mas through­out the next year, in­clud­ing the in­die Hearts Beat Loud and block­buster Hell­boy. She’s also the face of nu­mer­ous fash­ion cam­paigns, with an A-list pack of best friends that in­cludes Chloë Grace Moretz and Ri­ley Keough. In short, you could say that Sasha Lane is liv­ing the Hol­ly­wood dream.

But she’s care­ful about the projects she takes on. Sasha reads roles with a bull­shit de­tec­tor, know­ing that in the age of #MeToo and #Os­carsSoWhite, projects may need her more than she needs them. ‘There are a hand­ful I get [of­fered] that I know are specif­i­cally for a white per­son; the whole fam­ily dy­namic is geared to­wards a white per­son,’ she says. ‘I don’t have those ex­pe­ri­ences. My mother is Maori, from New Zealand, and my fa­ther is black. I grew up with a lot of black peo­ple. You thought [of­fer­ing me this role] was di­verse, so you could say you have some­one of colour in your film, but I’m light­skinned enough that it doesn’t throw white peo­ple off,’ she says. ‘As much as I’m glad to rep­re­sent peo­ple, don’t use me as your to­ken.’ To­day, we’re sat in a café in East­side’s Echo Park, Los An­ge­les, and Sasha is dressed in a re­laxed, low-key style that re­flects the neigh­bour­hood with a pinch of her own kook: wide-leg black sweat­pants, a teal thrift-store wind­breaker, uni­corn socks and a pair of Nikes. Most of her friends live on the East­side of town, she says, and that’s partly why she chose to make her home there when she moved to the city postAmer­i­can Honey.

One of those friends is fel­low ac­tress (and grand­daugh­ter of Elvis Pres­ley) Ri­ley, who so­lid­i­fied their close friend­ship by invit­ing Sasha to the Dior Cou­ture pre­sen­ta­tion in Paris when film­ing for Amer­i­can Honey wrapped in the sum­mer of 2O15. ‘We re­fused to sep­a­rate, so I went and sat on her lap and watched the show.’ It was the Texas na­tive’s first time leav­ing the coun­try. ‘I re­mem­ber we went to this cock­tail thing. I was wear­ing heels and was like, “This is fuck­ing ridicu­lous.” I took them off and was smok­ing a cig­a­rette on a couch when a lady walked by and said, “I wish I could do that right now.” I re­alised these peo­ple have to be stuffy and “on”. Then Ri­ley and I went to a din­ner and ran around steal­ing bread from every­one. So that was my first Fash­ion Week ex­pe­ri­ence,’ she says, light­ing a Camel Blue as we talk. ‘I was like, how do I rough this up?’

She’s small in stature, with long dread­locks, tat­toos and a grace­ful, bal­le­rina-like slouch­i­ness. Her doe eyes and pursed up­per lip regerhaps

is­ter in per­son as beau­ti­fully as they do on screen, and her face moves and frowns and flairs like clay. She has a calm­ing ef­fect, say­ing peo­ple tend to re­lax around her, whether in fash­ion set­tings or con­fer­ence rooms. ‘They take one look at me, let out a sigh of re­lief and chill out,’ she says in a sweet Amer­i­can twang. ‘They drop any [forced] de­meanour.’

The fash­ion in­dus­try has wel­comed her fear­less at­ti­tude with open arms. She’s been the face of Louis Vuit­ton, part of Coach’s ‘Class of 2O18’, and a front-row guest at Fendi with Chloë and a loyal sup­porter of the brand. She’s graced the cov­ers of Won­der­land, Dazed and Teen Vogue, and was a star guest at the Met Gala. ‘It’s kind of cool for me that the girl with the locs and tat­toos can wear this [cloth­ing] and still feel com­fort­able. Peo­ple can think, “Oh, she looks like me, which means I can wear that stuff, too; that I can be beau­ti­ful.” We don’t all have to look the same.’ It’s clear that Sasha’s com­mit­ment to be­ing gen­uine, in terms of per­son­al­ity and ap­pear­ance, is what makes her so at­trac­tive to the fash­ion world.

Her acute self-aware­ness dates back to child­hood, a pe­riod in Sasha’s life that lingers with her still. Her par­ents had split by the time she was born, and she spent her for­ma­tive years reg­u­larly mov­ing around Texas. From a young age, she knew money was tight. Sasha ad­mits she saw so much of her­self in Star, her char­ac­ter in Amer­i­can Honey, that film­ing took a men­tal toll. ‘I kind of lost it. I couldn’t tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween me and Star. Ev­ery emo­tion I had in that movie I drew from my own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence. I have gone through sex­ual abuse, I’ve had crazy, pas­sion­ate re­la­tion­ships and I’ve been the kid who peo­ple didn’t be­lieve in.’

Sasha’s fa­ther, who still lives in Hous­ton and with whom she has a close re­la­tion­ship, walked out of the movie. ‘He never told me why. I think he’d just seen enough to be like, I’m proud of you, but I don’t want to see any more. I think the sex scenes — go­ing through the sad­ness – was just too much for him to han­dle.’

I imag­ine one of the rea­sons peo­ple feel re­laxed around Sasha is down to how can­did she is about taboo sub­jects. A quick scroll of her In­sta­gram re­veals how hon­est and vul­ner­a­ble she is will­ing to be in com­par­i­son to her peers, from her com­men­tary on the in­dus­try and her dis­taste for the ‘fak­e­ness’ to her per­sonal life. She talks openly about her strug­gles with men­tal ill­ness: ‘I have bipo­lar dis­or­der, and the more in­tense my life gets, the more in­tense my head gets,’ she says. ‘It’s hard to act like you’re not hear­ing voices all day when you’re try­ing to say your lines… But some­one else is strug­gling with this. I want peo­ple to know that just be­cause I have de­signer bags and I’ve trav­elled the world, I’m still hav­ing a break­down ev­ery other fuck­ing day.’

To take care of her­self, Sasha paints. It’s a hobby she took up while in Bul­garia shoot­ing the up­com­ing comic-book re­boot Hell­boy. Writ­ing, mu­sic and weed also help. But her great­est com­fort is Ser­gio, her older brother and flat­mate. To­gether, they’ve cre­ated a fa­mil­ial co­coon in the for­eign ter­ri­tory of Los An­ge­les. ‘I’m not an ac­tiv­ity per­son, so I try to be as chill as pos­si­ble,’ she says, de­scrib­ing her and her brother’s daily rou­tine, which mostly in­volves hang­ing out at home, danc­ing to reg­gae in the liv­ing room and rolling in a cir­cle of mu­si­cians and cre­atives.

Ter­ri­fied of what roles would fol­low the suc­cess of Amer­i­can Honey, Sasha’s up­com­ing choices re­flect her in­ter­est in di­rec­tors who ‘will do a full, raw ver­sion of a story’. She ar­rived at this year’s Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val with Hearts Beat Loud, in which she plays the love in­ter­est of Kiersey Clemons in the story of a fa­ther/daugh­ter song­writ­ing duo. She also starred along­side friend Chloë in De­siree Akha­van’s The Mise­d­u­ca­tion of Cameron Post as Jane Fonda, a teen at a Chris­tian gay con­ver­sion camp in the Nineties – the film won top prize at the Fes­ti­val back in Jan­uary this year. As some­one who has been ro­man­ti­cally linked to men and women, Sasha felt the heft of the movie. ‘We filmed it dur­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion [of Don­ald Trump], so it felt like we were ac­tu­ally mak­ing some­thing that mat­tered.’

Next year, Sasha takes a ca­reer jump as the Neil Mar­shall-di­rected Hell­boy is re­leased – her first big-bud­get block­buster – in which she plays Alice Mon­aghan, an ass-kick­ing do-gooder who de­vel­ops mag­i­cal pow­ers af­ter be­ing kid­napped. Her per­for­mance is likely to cat­a­pult her to an­other level of no­to­ri­ety en­tirely.

Of course, none of this hype seems to phase Sasha too much. She main­tains: ‘I’m just fuck­ing wing­ing it, man.’

The Mise­d­u­ca­tion of Cameron Post is out 31 Au­gust

THIS PAGE Mul­ti­coloured cot­ton shirt, £69O, FENDI. Gold metal neck­lace, Sasha’s own. OP­PO­SITE Cash­mere and wool-mix jumper,£85O; vel­vet trousers, £1,29O; and shear­ling hat,£49O, all FENDI

Black wool and silk-mix cape, £4,45O, FENDI. Ear­rings,Sasha’s own

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