“We need to play the roles, write parts, sing the songs, direct the films, and take the photographs that aren't traditionally expected of women. We need to show the world how capable we are.” -Emma Appleton
Shot by Chloe Sheppard. Styled by Hannah Sheen.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Emma! Where did you grow up, and where are you currently based?
Emma Appleton: I am originally from Oxfordshire, and I'm currently based in Southeast London.
JB: What was your childhood like?
EA: My childhood was pretty much based on playing dress-up and using my imagination. My best friend and I grew up making our own pretend radio shows/television shows and playing make-believe. We used to get so immersed in our own stories that we used to scare ourselves sometimes. I wasn't good at being a tomboy but I wanted to be—I used to climb trees, but then I'd be scared to climb down again! I was always motivated to be creative because it caught my attention and I wasn't academic. I learned that you could express yourself through the arts, and as a sensitive kid, that appealed to me. I vividly remember watching Labyrinth for the first time as a child; I was in awe of the film and of David Bowie. To me, that film said, creatively, anything was possible.
JB: Who is your favorite literary heroine?
EA: Well, I remember reading Margaret Atwood for the first time as a young teen and it left an impression. It was the first time I had ever read about someone exploring the themes of women's reproductive rights. I wasn't so aware at the time, but it's stuck with me as I've grown older. And of course Harper Lee—To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.
JB: How did you get into modeling, and how did it eventually lead to acting?
EA: I started out in hair modeling when I was 17, and it snowballed from there. I had no desire to go to university when I left school, so my parents suggested I should try modeling professionally with an agency. Seven years later, I'm still modeling, so I owe them a lot! I always wanted to act; drama was the one class in school I felt I excelled in. I was lucky enough that the audition for Dreamlands came through my modeling agent, and I just went for it.
JB: How did you identify with your character, Pixie?
EA: There were definitely elements of Pixie’s personality that I saw in my younger self, so I thought the logical thing to do was to draw on those and bring them to the forefront of the character. It was important to me to find emotional depth with Pixie. I didn't want her to be a character that seemed like she did what she wanted to and there were no consequences.
I remember the moment I put on the clothes that Kate Ruth, the costume designer, picked out for the character—I instantly found Pixie. For me, it's a number of elements that bring the character together.
JB: Do you feel like your modeling experience helped you to become more raw and comfortable in front of the camera?
EA: I'm thankful that after years of modeling, I'm comfortable being in front of the camera. But it's a totally different experience to adapt to—I think people assume it's an easy transition, but it's not the same. It was a big learning curve, but I embraced it. A rolling camera picks up every move you make, however small, whereas a photo is a single frame. I learned to think and feel it, rather than to just express it.
JB: What was the shoot like?
EA: From the moment the process began, I was hooked. It was a close cast and crew, so spending a solid week together on location was magical. It's very much its own little bubble. Some of my favorite moments were being sat in a car park at 3AM in Margate on night shoots. Everyone got on and looked after each other, and were invested in making the film the best it could be. I thoroughly enjoyed every single element.
JB: You essentially made your acting debut at Cannes. What was that like?
EA: It was unexpected, I was incredibly taken aback, but so proud as well. It sounds odd, but when we were making it, I never thought about people actually seeing it and having an opinion on the film. [Director] Sara [Dunlop] is one of the most creative, hardworking, inspiring people I've ever met and had the pleasure to work with. For my first acting experience to have been directed by Sara and to have it selected for Cannes was almost too good to be true.
JB: Tell me about your next project, Clique. How do you think that the issues of social and emotional pressure it explores are relevant to young women today?
EA: Clique is a really fun and exciting new psychological thriller; it has some twists and turns I don't think the audience will expect. I play Fay, a character that's a part of the aforementioned “clique.” Working with a predominantly female cast is really special and something I think we all want to see more of, too. I think the themes that are explored are very relevant: the anxiety of not fitting in, peer pressure, emotional and psychological issues. The majority of people experience these moments in life, whether it's in school, in your friendship group, or at university.
JB: Who are some London-based creatives currently inspiring you?
EA: Polly Hanrahan is a photographer I have had the pleasure of working with quite a few times now; she knows how to make a shoot enjoyable so it doesn't feel like work, and she knows exactly what she wants from a shoot. I admire that. Adwoa Aboah is one of the most inspiring women I've come across recently—I urge anyone to watch the films she made exploring sexual equality, breaking female stereotypes, and what it actually is to be female. Nadia Lee Cohen is also an absolute badass, too; her work is so considered and visual. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.
JB: Why do you think women are still struggling to achieve equality where, for example, pay is concerned? How do you think the industry is progressing?
EA: It baffles me that it's still an issue, but when inequality is ingrained into a society for so long, it becomes the norm. It's only when we recognize the problem and tackle it that the normal will become the abnormal. Creating platforms in which female-driven projects are given the same attention and focus that male projects receive is important. It feels like there has definitely been a rise in strong female roles in film, which is refreshing to see….
We need to play the roles, write parts, sing the songs, direct the films, and take the photographs that aren't traditionally expected of women. We need to show the world how capable we are.
CREDITS: Dreamlands (2016), Clique (2017)
Emma wears her own clothing and jewelry.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Lauren! Have you always been a natural storyteller?
Lauren McCrostie: I have always enjoyed speaking to people and learning or sharing stories with them, so perhaps yes. [As a child], I loved creating little sketches, dressing up and then performing them and I never really watched televison much, so I guess you could say I was naturally drawn to the industry.
JB: When you were a child, was there a particular, film, book, or play that inspired you to act?
LM: There was not one specific piece that inspired me to act—I find that it was and is much more a coalition of things that continue to motivate me. I participated in quite a lot of clubs at school, actually. I used to swim competitively, and did gymnastics and trampolining , as well as arts and crafts, too, like painting, potting, and mosaic-making. My mum is a very creative person, so crafting was always a part of my childhood. I have always been quite the control freak, so in my later school years I was a school counselor and head girl...twice!
JB: I’d love to hear about your role in Tim Burton’s newest film, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, in which you play one of the leads, Olive. How did you develop the character with Tim's vision in mind, while also staying true to the books?
LM: I had read the book before auditioning, so I was familiar with what ‘book’ Olive was like. I was happy to see that although a new character had been created in Burton and Goldman’s script, many of her characteristics had remained, like her friendliness and general good nature. I then let my imagination take me away and off the page. My friend helped me to make a playlist for Olive and I did lots of prep on her background.
Filming was amazing—it was such a magical process, and we got to travel to some lovely places like Antwerp, Cornwall, and Blackpool, of course! I wanted to play Olive youthfully—full of energy and life—while also giving her an ‘old soul’ feel, as if everything was just a little bit too familiar.
JB: In addition to your acting career, you are also a passionate advocate for ethical living and green fashion. What are your favorite ethical fashion brands, and why do you think more brands should adhere to ethical clothing production processes?
LM: Oh, I love so many! My current favorites are Reformation for gowns, Ace and Jig for every day, and Diarte for lovely prints. There’s also Veja, an amazing Brazilian shoe brand, that works vigilantly throughout their entire production line to ensure that ethical practices are enforced.
JB: Tell me about your feature debut in Carol Morley's The Falling. I read somewhere that you were discovered at your school for this role. That experience must have been slightly surreal!
LM: It was so surreal—I am still mesmerized about how it all happened, really. I am so grateful for it, and know how lucky I am to be in the position I am. Carol is lovely; her talent is only surpassed by her kindness. She was really involved in the whole process. It was such a special project for her, and she always ensured you were 100% comfortable in the scene and with your character before shooting, which was really comforting, especially for my first film production.
The Falling was a largely female-dominated project, which was a really lovely and hopeful introduction to the industry and an experience I hope to live through again.
CREDITS: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016), Schoolgirls (Short, 2016), The Falling (2014)
Lauren wears a vintage dress.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Felicity. What was your childhood like?
Felicity Gilbert: My childhood was very lively. Coming from a family of three older brothers, I was treated like another boy most of the time, so I had to take part in a lot of boy-type activities like playing ninjas and having play fights. I liked going by the name Felicity Fingernails, which was a glamorous character I invented to rob imaginary banks and jewels! My brothers influenced me a lot by exposing me to a wide variety of music, film, and art, which I now really appreciate.
JB: How did you develop your interest in acting?
FG: I always wanted to be an actress—I loved watching old Hollywood films with performers like Rita Hayworth and Ginger Rogers in them. I loved the glamorous costumes, singing, and dancing. As I got older, I went to quite an academic school where the arts weren’t really encouraged, but I rebelled and did my own thing anyway! I remember when I secretly wrote to Felicity Kendall’s agent (the logic of my 10-year-old mind being she must like [girls named] Felicity) to say I wanted to be an actress; I don’t know how on earth I managed to find her address.
JB: What was it like working with Lars von Trier on Nymphomaniac? How were you cast in the role?
FG: Nymphomaniac was one of the best experiences of my life! I was already a fan of Lars’. The Kingdom was one of my favorite series of all time (I like things that are dark and humorous). I had to go through a few rounds of auditions in London and at Zentropa in Denmark to meet Lars before finding out that I had been cast. Lars writes really interesting roles for women and shows all facets of their nature—both good and bad—which was what attracted me to what I knew would be a controversial project. I also really like the fact that he’s open minded to using actors that haven’t been traditionally trained, while also casting mega-star, seasoned professionals. He gave me an opportunity that couldn’t have reaffirmed more that acting was what I wanted to do. I hope I get to work with him and his crew again one day—it was a lot of fun and I shall be forever grateful for the experience.
JB: What women inspire you right now, both artistically and politically?
FG: As a woman in the arts today, I feel like it’s a time of great opportunity where we are able to make our own work independently. We can reach people through social media and use it as a platform to put our work out there to audiences without having to rely on the usual avenues to do so. I really respect women like Issa Rae (creator of Awkward Black Girl and Insecure) who have written, directed, acted, and produced their own work in this way. I do feel that there is still a lot of progress to be made with regards to gender equality, racial equality, and ageism.
I also really admire activists like Malala Yousafzai, Angela Davis, and even actresses such as Patricia Arquette who have fought and are still fighting for equality…. We need to keep raising awareness and talking about these issues, whether it’s through our creative projects, our interviews, our speeches, or by attending demonstrations. It always frustrates me when people criticize artists for using their voices to raise awareness on political issues—if you have a platform where your voice can be heard, then surely it’s positive if you use it.
CREDITS: Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 (2013), Upcoming: Lucid
Felicity wears a vintage dress.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Leonie! Where did you grow up, and where are you currently based?
Leonie Benesch: I was born in Hamburg, but we moved around Germany a lot. Now I am mainly based in London and sometimes Berlin.
JB: Tell me a bit about your childhood.
LB: I was absolutely an outdoor child: I loved tree and rock climbing, running, camping, building fires, building tree houses and even being a part of a children’s circus. But I loved reading more than anything. We never had a television, which is why I think I became so fascinated with film. I always wanted to know everything about how they were made. I think I did like dressing up, but weirdly I didn’t enjoy being watched very much. That only happened later.
JB: What was your favorite fairy tale?
LB: There was a time when I knew every single one of Grimms’ Fairy Tales by heart. Now I can hardly remember them. It’s very strange, I have that with films and books. I completely immerse myself in them, and then forget about them.
JB: You chose to attend drama school at Guildhall. What did you learn there?
LB: I applied to drama school in Berlin once, but I think for completely the wrong reasons. Then I found a fantastic teacher in Berlin who was from London. I always liked the way he spoke about British training and British drama schools. And I remember as a child always thinking that if I was ever to go to university I’d want to do it abroad. I’m sure lots of people leave drama school feeling unsure as to whether it taught them anything…. But for me, it was the best decision of my life. Just having that time for trying [techniques] out, daring to rethink things that you thought you had already worked out for yourself…. At Guildhall, I learned how to work and most importantly, I learned how to translate what a director says into what makes sense to me. I found out what I like and what I don’t like. It seems so obvious, but life becomes so much easier once you know what you want to spend your time on and which things to leave [behind].
JB: You are known for your role in The White Ribbon. What was it like to work with director Michael Haneke?
LB: When I got the part in The White Ribbon, I didn’t know who anyone was; I had no idea about the film world. Looking back, I now realize what a fantastic project it was. Michael doesn’t leave anything to chance. He knows exactly what he wants and he will not stop until he has it. It was wonderful to work with him. Once he chooses his actors, he seems to love them unconditionally.
JB: Do you have a favorite literary heroine?
LB: Well I think there are a few, but let’s go with Pippi Longstocking for now—and not only because she has red hair and freckles! Ginny Weasley (from Harry Potter) also immediately comes to mind—maybe because she grew up in a house full of brothers, like me, and also has red hair.
CREDITS: The White Ribbon (2009), Picco (2010), Colors in the Dark (2010), George (2015), 8 Seconds (2015), Upcoming: Untitled Europe Project (Dirs. Lucas Elliot Eberl, Edgar Morais).
Leonie wears a dress by Jill Stuart
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Seraphina. Where did you grow up, and where are you currently based?Seraphina Roberts-Hunt: I’m from Walton-on-Thames, and I still live there with my parents.
JB: You have a beautiful name. What does it mean?
SRH: Thank you! It comes from the angel seraphim—it’s Hebrew and means “fiery ones.”
JB: How did you get into modeling?
SRH: I was first scouted at 13 while in line for a concert. At first I didn’t want to do it, as I had these negative connotations about modeling that threw me off; it was all very intimidating to me. Then I got scouted a few more times after that, and the idea of modeling started to interest me more as I grew older and became more interested in my individual style and the fashion industry. The Hive Management was the first agency I visited, and I immediately felt welcomed when I met them.
JB: What do you consider to be one of the biggest misconceptions about models? How do you defy this stereotype?
SRH: I feel that one of the biggest misconceptions about models is that they’re vain. When your job revolves solely around the way you look, it can be quite damaging, as you spend a lot of your time thinking about your appearance and looking your best at all times. You also spend a lot of time surrounded by other models, and often find yourself comparing the way you look to them. Personally, I’ve always been self-conscious about the way look—I grew up as the really tall thin one and have never been conventionally attractive, which isn’t always dealt with kindly by peers.
JB: What does feminism mean to you?
SRH: I definitely consider myself a feminist. Feminism to me centers on girls supporting other girls and sticking together. I think in today’s world, it’s really easy to go against one another. I also believe that equality is important—I think everyone should have the opportunity and support to thrive in our society despite their race, gender, or age.
Seraphina is represented by The Hive Management.
Seraphina wears her own clothes.
Hometown: A small city near Frankfurt, Germany, where she lives at the moment.
The biggest misconception about models: That they are not very smart. In reality, it’s the opposite: You have to be smart to be successful in the industry.
Dream photographer to work with: Steven Meisel.
Favorite British designer: Stella McCartney, because of what she does for the environment.
She believes female-driven, independent publications are important because: Women know better what other women want to read.
Viviane is represented by The Hive Model Management.
On her childhood:
I am 17, and I've always lived in London. My parents are both very creative, so that influenced me a lot as a child. I really wanted to be a fashion designer and would make these little books of drawings of my designs. I was also pretty bossy and strong-willed. I became a vegetarian when I was seven as a protest, and my parents used to call me ‘Boudica’ who was a Celtic queen that led an uprising against the Roman Empire. I think my favorite story as a child would have to be The Velveteen Rabbit or The Little Match Girl.
On her modeling career and the London creative scene:
Working with (photographer) Chloe Sheppard was one of my first experiences with modeling. Chloe's amazing to work with, because she doesn't try to force any kind of personas or ideas onto you that are not necessarily you. that aren't necessarily you…. Another cool experience was my shoot for Tatler with a really close friend, which obviously made it really fun! We shot in this amazing house in West Hampstead, which had this beautiful garden at the back. I think my favorite piece I wore was a dress by Temperley London. Other designers I love include Vivienne Westwood, Mimi Wade, Clio Peppiatt, Ashley Williams, and Hannah Weiland, who founded Shrimps—all of those ladies are incredible. As far as the London creative scene goes, I think Chloe and Jade Lamb and Lilli-Rose Bailey (who founded Badlands 777) are amazing, and I am in love with Julia Campbell-Gillies, who's the most incredible model. I also love (art director) Lotte Andersen's work, as well as makeup artist Bea Sweet.
On feminism and the necessity of art-making to uproot stereotype:
I consider myself a feminist. To me, feminism is about learning to love yourself and other women unconditionally, standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves, and decriminalizing the unique expression of one's gender. I think that our society is very afraid of the female body, because it carries so much power. That's what breeds a lot of the body shaming and censorship that is so rampant in social media. Artists like Arvida Byström and Maisie Cousins are doing amazing things to fight against the unnecessary stigma surrounding the female body—I think we all just need to stop associating female bodies with immorality, stop being afraid of sexuality, and calm down about goddamn nipples!
I know social media and discovering artists who look at women through a feminist lens helped me to lose a lot of my insecurities and preconceived ideas about women and sexuality. I think exposure to feminism and the support that it brings helps a lot of girls to feel better about themselves and provides a loving, non-judgemental community for girls who so often feel judged and policed and trapped within the confines of gender stereotypes.
Female-driven publications (like Constellation) are important because they demonstrate (not only to girls) that women are creative and incredible. They also reflect the importance of females supporting each other—which a lot of girls are taught not to do—and offer a perspective on womanhood that is free of stereotype. —Sylvie Makower
Sylvie wears a top by Jill Stuart, a vintage dress, and her own jewelry.
I am 17, originally from Southwest London. Growing up, I was always outside: running places, climbing trees. I remember my best friend and I once got chased by a huge deer in Richmond Park. We were neighbors and our old road backed onto the railway and we would try to beat the train, which resulted in competing for who could get the cooler plaster for their knees. I loved arts and crafts and sketching half-human/creature-like things.
As far as modeling, I was approached several times by different agencies, I wasn't interested at first, but then one day I thought I should try it! Initially I wasn't interested in the fashion industry itself —probably because I didn't know how large and complex it really was. But there are girls in this industry whom I really admire—seeing Adwoa Aboah manage both modeling and founding Gurls Talk is super inspiring to me.
I look up to my Italian grandmother. She's always smiling, always making a joke out of everything, never taking anything too seriously. She's the most generous woman—not to mention how stylish she is. Someone on Tumblr once described my style as ‘Parisian punk’ so I'll take that; I guess that means classic but slightly grungy! My favorite item in my wardrobe has got to be my Burberry leather trench coat. I found it in a charity shop, and it’s so baggy and classic. Plus, I don't need to take a bag because the pockets are so big. As a Londoner, I'm a bit of a geek; I know the Tube map by heart. I pretty much know my way around everywhere, but I mostly find myself around Camden. I'm always up by Primrose Hill with my friends having a picnic or going to gigs round there.
For me, being a woman today is about making choices regardless of what stigma might be attached to them [now or in the past]. As long as you're happy with them, no one can knock you—no one. — Issy Hawken
Issy Hawken is represented by Milk Model Management.
At only 20 years old, university student Chloe Sheppard has established herself as one of London’s most exciting young photographers. Her dreamy, pastel-hued images often evoke 1970s California—perhaps this stems from her decision to shoot only on film. Her portraits of young women, in particular, are both relatable and slightly magical. With a hint of retro flair, a recent personal project saw her capturing her subjects covered in glitter against a pink backdrop. Sheppard often casts her friends or finds her subjects via social media, and has shot for publications including Badlands 777, Hunger, and Rookie, among others. I caught up with Sheppard just as she finished her exclusive shoot for Constellation.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Chloe! Where are you originally from, and where are you currently based?
Chloe Sheppard: I am originally from a small town in Bedfordshire, but I'm currently living in South London.
JB: When did you first pick up a camera? What is the first thing you remember photographing?
CS: I've been shooting for as long as I can remember, but the first thing I remember photographing that made me want to start taking photography seriously was my friend’s cat.
JB: Who are some London-based creatives currently inspiring you?
CS: Currently, I'm most definitely inspired by Erika Bowes and Yuki Haze, who are the creators of Sukeban mag.
JB: How did you start working with Sylvie Makower, who’s featured in our talent portfolio? Were you friends first?
CS: I reached out to Sylvie a long time ago via Instagram. I wanted to shoot with her as soon as I stumbled across her page, and our first shoot was in a rose garden. I never imagined we'd go on to do so many things together…. Sylvie is definitely one of my main muses within my work.
JB: Many of your photos possess a nostalgic, slightly ‘70s edge. What do you find inspiring about this time period?
CS: I just love the look of everything from that time. I love the music, the fashion, the cars, even the way the old streets and buildings looked. I find modern times so dull and often uninspiring, so I guess my work is nostalgic.
JB: How do you choose your subjects?
CS: A lot of them are people I know or connect with online. We usually have some mutual interests—I like to be able to see a bit of myself in my subjects. ★
Interviews and text by Jaclyn Bethany. All photographs by Chloe Sheppard.