Interview & Photographs by } John Russo
Makeup by }Anton Khachaturian
Hair by }Justine Marjan
Q: Everyone knows you from Shadowhunters as the sexy redhead, now you are the even sexier blonde. As cliché’ as its sounds do blondes have more fun?
A: Not cliche at all! Actually, when I first changed from my natural ginger locks to blonde, I did clock quite a difference in the amount of notice I received. Folks always mentioned and inquired about my fiery hair, but as a blonde, I was suddenly getting approached by strangers at a much higher frequency.I have spent a lot of time trying to determine why that may be the case. I’m not sure if it’s a societal perception or if it is something else entirely, but I certainly found it interesting. But the real fun began when I dyed my hair pink for a few months for THE STAND which shot earlier this year. I can definitively say I had the most fun with that hue. All that aside, I make an effort to have fun whatever I’m doing, regardless of my hair color. I am quite thrilled at the opportunity to get to change my appearance often – being a chameleon is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I want to live a thousand lives and tell every story I can get my hands on – to create and hold a mirror to the human experience. Who knows… maybe I’ll try brunette next!
Q: You have the most beautiful skin. Tell us your skincare regimen.
A: Thank you! I do my best to take good care of my skin. It’s an importance my grandmother instilled in me when I was very young. I would sit with her in her bathroom at the end of the day and watch her take off her makeup, wash her face, and really care for her skin – I thought it was so elegant. Now, I’m so grateful to have that habit – especially considering the amount of makeup I wear for hours upon hours on set. I start with a makeup wipe and a Clinique eye makeup remover to take the day off a bit. Next, I use the Tatcha camellia cleansing oil – a new addition to my regimen – but one I now truly love. I follow that up with the Chanel Le Lait milky cleanser which does an amazing job completely cleansing my skin without stripping all the moisture. A few times a week, I use a Clarisonic brush for a deep clean. Then I finish up with a little swipe of witch hazel, Clinique moisturizer, and Skyn Iceland eye cream. When I want to give my skin a special treat, I pull out a Patchology face mask to give my skin a little mini respite and retreat.
Q: To achieve and maintain great skin you need a healthy balanced diet. Tell us about your diet.
A: I wouldn’t call it a diet per se, but I tend to eat very clean. I found it extremely beneficial when I started training for SHADOWHUNTERS and I’ve kept up the practice. I have quite a few food allergies as well so I had to get creative when finding sources of protein and nutrients on the go. After doing a bit of research, I have found all kinds of fun and efficient ways to meal plan and create variety with clean protein, veggies, and fruits. That being said, I do love my cheat days. I’m an avid baker with a huge sweet tooth and have a weakness for Mexican cuisine – which is why I am a firm believer in balance and moderation. You have to be able to enjoy life and experience new things, eat that cookie if you want, but still be responsible and take care of your body and health. I do feel better when I eat clean. I have more energy, am more fulfilled, and avoid the ups and downs of glucose spikes just by putting a little effort into how I fuel my body. It can seem daunting at first, but once you form the habit, it can actually be quite fun to seek out different creative options and explore new food combinations. Whether it’s going to the local farmer’s market down the street, checking out the grocer’s supply in a foreign country, or even experimenting with alternative baking ingredients, the possibilities for creativity are endless.
Q: Do you prefer yourself with or without makeup?
A: That depends. Through playing characters and doing shoots with many diverse looks, I have grown to love playing with makeup. I find it fascinating how simply “painting a face” in a slightly different way can completely change how a person looks, feels, and translates on screen. So, yes, I am very much a woman who loves putting on makeup and being creative in that way. However, that being said, there’s such a freedom to waking up and feeling comfortable in your own skin with a completely fresh face. It’s actually something I’ve had the luxury to enjoy, play with, and form new habits in during quarantine. I’ve taken more time to fine tune the skincare regimen that works best with my skin so that I feel comfortable no matter if I am wearing makeup or not. Also, I’ve been spending more time in the sun this year (safely and with sunscreen) so my freckles are out in full force which makes it fun to play with!
Q: Are you the kind of girl who falls asleep in her makeup or the girl that makes sure she washes it off before bed?
A: I am definitely committed to taking care of my skin! If I do nothing else at the end of the night, it is to wash my face and brush my teeth (my grandfather is a dentist). Admittedly, there have been a few night shoots after which I have forgotten to do so, but I have instantly regretted it. It’s all part of self care, which at times could be easy to neglect given my workaholic tendencies, but skin care is of utmost importance. So no matter how tired I am, how sore my feet are from dancing the night away, or how many bad guys I’ve beat up at work, I always endeavor to stay awake long enough to clean my face before falling into bed.
Q: What are your feelings on plastic surgery? Would you ever do it for vanity reasons?
A: I am very much of the mind that plastic surgery is a personal choice. I don’t think I would make that choice unless it was medically necessary. However, I am not one to judge those that do. Many of us have things about our bodies we would love to change – and there are many different ways of going about it. Fitness, emotional healing, wardrobe changes, or even a good bra are among other ways that change can be achieved. I can’t speak to it fully as I haven’t had any work done myself, but I have had many friends who have done so with varying levels of happiness as a result. Overall, I would say it’s a decision that must be taken seriously for anyone. I do think that anyone considering surgery should thoroughly examine their motivations for seeking that treatment and determine if there are other solutions or other types of healing they may be yearning for instead before making a permanent change. Ultimately, we all have the right to make choices for our own bodies and deserve to feel good about ourselves no matter how we choose to go about it.
Q: Who is the most beautiful woman you know?
A: I always say that the strongest and most beautiful women I know are the ones that raised me. My mother, my grandmother, and the women in my family have the most beauty in my eyes – mind, body, and soul. My first experiences with makeup were watching my grandmother and her sisters at the mirror before family gatherings. My mother on the other hand has the most gorgeous hair that she masters with what seems to be little to no effort, and somehow manages to look astonishingly young and beautiful with no makeup whatsoever. Their truest beauty however, comes from their hearts of gold. I have watched my mother and grandmother go through hell and back fighting for the people they love through what seemed at the time to be insurmountable odds and yet did so with grace, kindness, and compassion. There has never been a moment they haven’t been there for the people they love, caring for them with a patient ear, an encouraging word, and a comforting hug. They face hardships with humor and strive to treat everyone they meet with respect. They are intelligent, driven, and passionate in their chosen careers and yet are the most loving and committed mothers, sisters, cousins, and more. I am forever grateful for their example as they showed me that being a woman is not a question of family or career but an opportunity to have both if you choose and create the life you want to lead.
Q: When you think of all the iconic beautiful actresses of the 1950’s and 1960’s is there any one actress who you think is the most beautiful?
A: I have always thought Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of beauty and elegance. She not only created an incredible career as an actress and a dancer, but she became a fashion icon as well. She has this incredible ability to be a chameleon and transform from chic artful modern fashion, to a sexy free reckless abandon, and everything in between. However, it is the timeless elegance and a grace that exudes from everything she does that only accentuates her beauty. In addition, her beauty extends to her heart in all of her humanitarian works for women, children, and animals across the globe. Her legacy is not only that of fashion, stories, and art, but one of kindness, compassion, and responsibility as a global citizen and proponent for change.
Q: When you think of top models, both past and present, who do you think truly embodies the title supermodel?
A: Undoubtedly, Iman. Not only is she one of the most stunningly beautiful women to ever grace this earth, she has done so much in her career in a multitude of media and has truly built an empire in business as an icon. She has been the muse for several of the most revered designers in the industry, been a part of some of the most iconic fashion imagery of the last several decades, and has branched out into other entertainment fields that go beyond fashion and beauty. On top of that, Iman used her notoriety and visibility to make change in the world and fight for humanitarian efforts globally. In my opinion, a supermodel is a person who is not only is an icon of their own accord in the world of fashion and the art thereof, but expands their career beyond that and creates a legacy – the effects of which will have an impact for many years to come. Iman has cemented her legacy in history as an icon of fashion, a titan of industry, and a force for good. Sounds pretty super to me…
Q: Which male actor or male model ( past or present) do you think is absolutely beautiful?
A: I grew up watching old Hollywood films so I’ve always found actors like Gene Kelley and Fred Astaire beautiful in the way they would glide across the screen. Also, the classic leading men like Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, and Robert Redford are also wonderful to watch on screen. I mean, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t say the likes of a certain Mr. Pitt and Mr. Clooney aren’t beautiful as well. What can I say… I’m a sucker for beautiful eyes, a sensitive heart, and an intelligent soul…
Q: Finish this sentence…I feel beautiful when I’m…
A: Happy. No matter how I look on the outside – whether I am all dressed up for a celebration or covered in dirt and sweat from a long day hiking outdoors – I truly feel the most beautiful when I am surrounded by people I love, having fun, and truly living. That’s when I think anyone looks the most beautiful – when they have that true smile with no inhibition – the joy in their soul shines through.
Q: What are you working on? Any new things in the works?
A: Surprisingly, or perhaps not so astonishingly given my workaholic nature, I have been working even in quarantine! My business partners and I are developing a few YA projects (soon to be officially announced.) I also just finished filming a horror-comedy called Untitled Horror Movie entirely over Zoom with an incredibly patient and talented team who somehow taught six actors how to light, set up cameras, rig sound, set decorate, put together props, make costumes, and every other department from our own homes. Earlier this year, I wrapped production on the CBS All-access mini series of Stephen King’s The Stand. As a King fan myself, I’m very excited for folks to see this adaptation. We got it all in the can just before the lockdown began so hopefuuly it will be released later this year. I am also finishing up an EP that will be out soon – so stay tuned!
Q: How have you been handling the current situation?
A: This has been a very interesting – dare I say puzzling – year. Those who know me know that in any situation in life, I attempt to find the silver lining. I have been through enough to know that life is too short to live in negativity. It is not what happens to us that defines us – our lives are dictated by the choices we make and the perspective we choose to have. So during this strange year, I have been taking time to spend in nature hiking, to self reflect, to attempt to appreciate time off and not go too stir crazy. It’s been lovely to take advantage of the time to re-connect (virtually or at a safe social distance) with friends and family who can tend to be ships passing in the night given how busy life can become. That being said, I always endeavor to have something in the works. During this time, I have thrown myself into developmental efforts in trying my hand as a producer and director to keep expanding my creative exploits. Above all, I am a storyteller and can’t sit too long without some sort of creative exploit be it on stage, in front of a camera, behind a microphone, or in my living room!
Q: How do you see the future of productions being handled?
A: That remains to be seen… It will be interesting to see what creative solutions productions find to deal with the health and safety concerns of this new era in which we find ourselves. My mother is an infectious disease scientist, so it has been a huge asset having her as a resource to cut through the information and misinformation floating around in our world at the moment. The question for productions is that so much of this will depend on trust, which is already intrinsic in the nature of productions and among actors for any successful project, but there will have to be a collective agreement that everyone will “play by the rules” for the good of everyone in the production family. All in all, I have to remain hopeful that a solution will be found. The good news is the show must go on and it will – we will find a way to create and tell stories no matter the obstacle.
Q: Do you think the future of movies is in streaming?
A: I think streaming provides a huge advantage for an increased opportunity for more stories to be told. It allows greater and easier access to a variety of diverse stories to reach a wider audience – a huge hurdle in the past for the film and tv industry. In a normal world, I travel quite often so I appreciate being able to stream films and not feel as though I am missing out on the current cinematic landscape. However, so much of the impact of certain films involves the act of going to the theater and creating this grandiose shared experience. I don’t think that will ever fully go away, although perhaps it will be reserved for a select volume of films. In this time of social distancing, I’ve become enthralled with the drive-in movie experience. It’s such a charming way to safely experience the tradition of movie going until we can settle on the new normal, whatever that may be. Above all, I’m a bit of an old fashioned soul, I love the reverence and celebration of the art of storytelling whether it be live theater, music, or films. It will always have a special place in my heart.