Meet 14 L.A.-based women whose directing, acting, and songwriting talents are lighting up the West Coast. Shot by Grace Pickering.
Bonnie Wright's directorial debut, Separate We Come, Separate We Go (2012), featured David Thewlis and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Her second short film, Know Thyself, further develops Wright’s fascination with landscape and feeling, once more with a script she wrote herself. Wright is currently in post-production for her short film Medusa’s Ankles, an adaptation of Booker prize-winning author A. S. Byatt’s short story. The film stars Kerry Fox, Jason Isaacs, and Chanel Cresswell. In addition, Wright is currently developing two very different series of works, one titled SEXTANT, which will consist of 12 short films, each shot under a full moon. The first of the series stars Erin Moriarty (True Detective, Captain Fantastic) and premiered on Nowness in August 2016. The second is a web series called Phone Calls, set in New York, which explores the way people honestly and, often brutally, speak to one another. Wright is known for her portrayal of Ginny Weasley in the highly-acclaimed Harry Potter series.
Starting [in the industry] so young and being around that kind of (film) language, directing sort of happened to me. I was never really satisfied with my job as an actress; I always wanted to know everything that was going on. I always knew I wanted to go to art school, so I chose to go to film school in London. It naturally evolved. I am so thankful that acting and directing inform one another. Speaking to actors is something I feel really comfortable doing, as I feel safe with that language you can [express to] an actor.
I decided to step away from acting for a bit to focus on my directing. One of the main reasons I love filmmaking is the collaborative process; I have been surprised by how much time (as a director) you spend alone. I find being on set the most exciting thing—being with people who are so inspired and [eager] to tell the story you want to tell.
I was reading this really interesting article the other day about female cinematographers, and it was talking about these women who had worked so hard to get to the point in their career where they could have children and keep their career. It wasn’t even something I thought of, as my mom had a creative career and had children. Film is, obviously, a very intense experience…. and if you are coming from the studio perspective, it is considered difficult. But [this challenge] also applies across all work forces. I think [for women], it’s about the opportunities being made….. How can anyone step into the roles that don’t yet exist? I think that’s changing now. In the films coming out in the next few months, there are some good female lead roles in them, whereas a year or two ago, they wouldn’t have existed. There’s an exciting shift that’s happening…. Women directors do exist. I think it’s getting your work seen that’s the harder thing, rather than creating the work. —Bonnie Wright
Bonnie wears a dress by Clementine Vintage.
I’m from Sydney, Australia. I had a very normal childhood, but my parents are creative people (my mum’s a writer and my dad’s a musician), so I thank them for that. I actually fell into acting. I was going to after-school drama classes, and I booked a role on a kids show on ABC (which is a great television channel in Australia). After that, it was pure luck. I was 11, and I thought at that age that I was good at acting, even in a cerebral way, but I wasn’t—I just loved it. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I actually started to pay attention to the art of it, as opposed to the fun of it. Acting becomes more of a process as you learn more about it.
I had done two well-received films in Australia before I came to L.A. for a job. For one project, the character was a 12-year-old, and I was 16. I was convinced I wouldn’t get it, but the director helped shape the character around me.
Working with Geoffrey Rush and Miranda Otto on The Daughter was just incredible. I think it was the best school any actor can have. I’ve never [studied at] an official drama school; I went to a high school for performing arts, so I have some experience [learning] that way and I’ve done workshops with renowned acting teachers…. but the feeling that you get—not only being a witness to but a part of a performance coming from someone like Miranda or Geoffrey, or even Ewan Leslie, and just being an intimate part of that—is so much more effective for me than writing notes in a book about how to act.
I don’t think I missed out on a childhood; I experienced every single coming-of-age [moment] a girl can go through…. My work was just another aspect of my life. Because I started so young, it does give me a professionalism and an edge that I wouldn’t otherwise have, and I like that. I understand how a set works. I think the craft is definitely finding roles that are worth playing, I think that there aren’t particularly well- written roles for women in Hollywood at the moment, but it’s changing, and lately I have read more exciting and interesting characters. I never want to do anything that I don’t 100 percent believe in. I don’t ever want to do things because I need to—I want to do them because I want to and because they help me develop, not only as a person but as an actor. —Odessa Young
Credits: The Daughter (2015), Looking for Grace (2015), Highway (Short, 2015) Upcoming: Sweet Virginia, Assassination Nation, High Life (Television), When The Street Lights Go On (Television)
Odessa wears a jacket from Urban Outfitters and a skirt from Anthropologie; top and necklace stylist’s own.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hey, Hannah! Where did you originally grow up, and where are you currently based?
Hannah Marks: Los Angeles, CA. I went to elementary school in San Luis Obispo, CA, but spent my teen years in L.A.
JB: You've been acting from a very young age. Has your journey in the industry felt organic up to this point?
HM: Yes, it definitely has. My mom was an actress her whole life, so it seemed like the natural path to follow. We did a play together at a community theater when I was 11, and that’s how it all started. My parents are an incredible support system.
JB: When did you start writing your own work? In what ways do you feel writing and directing now informs your process as an actor?
HM: I started writing more seriously when I was about 18. I’d always been interested and was always writing down my ideas. My acting has changed a lot since I started to learn about writing. Learning about structure and dialogue and story/character arcs and resolutions has helped me view my work as servicing the story. I feel like I’m approaching acting in a way that isn’t self-indulgent anymore. I really want to be a piece of the puzzle.
JB: What stories are you most interested in telling?
HM: I’m interested in telling stories that are specific and truthful. As much as it would be fun to try and write something like Harry Potter, I think I’m better at writing essays on my own experiences or creating characters with feelings that I [share.]
JB: Tell me a little bit about your role in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and how that came about.
HM: Dirk Gently is a very unusual detective show. There’s comedy. There’s drama. There’s magic. There’s animals. There’s sci-fi. There’s flawed characters [presented] in a way that I don’t think has been done before. I’m beyond lucky to be a part of such innovative storytelling.
JB: Who is your character? What is her story?
HM: My character is Amanda, a total punk and Todd’s sister—Todd is like the Watson to Dirk’s Sherlock, although he insists, “I’m not your Watson, asshole.” Amanda has been sick for the last seven years with a terrible (highly fictional disease) called Pararibulitis. It causes extremely painful hallucinations that have rendered her agoraphobic. Over the course of the first season, she fights her fears and starts to help solve the mystery of the show.
JB: What was it like working with Elijah Wood and the rest of the cast?
HM: Working with this cast is very special. Elijah plays my older brother, and he has acted like that since day one. He’s an amazing actor with such a positive attitude. We got to do some crazy scenes together, and he’s always on board, invested, and coming up with new ideas.
JB: Who is your favorite actor working today?
HM: TATIANA MASLANY!
JB: What are some of your favorite spots in NY and L.A.?
HM: In New York, I love to eat at Hu Kitchen, Supper, Milon, Westville, and The Meatball Shop. I spend a lot of time at Chelsea Market, The High Line, and Central Park. In L.A., I love Vegetable, Daichan, La Poubelle, and all the ramen places in Little Tokyo. I spend most my time on Ventura or Tujunga in the Valley. But I do love the area around Space 1520 in Hollywood.
JB: 2016-2017 is a big year for you. Tell me a little bit about your recent projects. What was it like working on each one? Do you have a preparation process for each character?
HM: This was a huge year for me. My process has been to just do the most work I can do on any role. Sometimes that means boxing, sometimes that means reading books and watching movies, sometimes that means extensive rehearsing, and sometimes that means all of it. It depends how much time I have before shooting. I learned so much about who I am as an actor and as a person through the projects I worked on this year. I was lucky enough to collaborate with some of the most talented people I know in so many different capacities. One of my favorite experiences was directing a short film starring my friends called Katie Goes to College. It’s a parody of the “quirky girl” archetype found in most indie films. It’s only three minutes, but it’s about school, debt, unrealistic expectations, and consent. But by far, the biggest challenge for me was a film I just wrapped about homeless youth. It’s based on one of my favorite novels of all time, Almost Home, by Jessica Blank. It was an experience unlike any I’ve ever had; we were on the streets every day, hustling to make something beautiful, and I hope people will love it as much as I do.
JB: What are your thoughts on the importance of supporting more female filmmakers as they create and share their work?
HM: I think it’s really sad that only one female director got hired on a network drama pilot this year. Last year, there was two. And this year, somehow, it went down to one—a really talented woman whom I’ve worked with named Jennifer Getzinger. I’ve been lucky to have worked with so many female directors, but that is not most people’s experience in the industry. I don’t understand why this has happened—and why it’s still happening in 2016. Thankfully, there are shows like Jessica Jones and Queen Sugar that are taking a stand and hiring mostly female directors. It’s simple: A female director can [contribute] the female experience. One of the best talks I’ve ever watched was Jill Soloway’s speech on the female gaze. Check it out please; she’s amazing.
JB: Clay Liford’s Slash, a breakout hit at South by Southwest, dives into the world of fan fiction. What attracted you to the project and what did you learn about teens who are immersed in that subculture in the process?
HM: What drew me to the project was my character, Julia. She’s a force of nature at such a young age. She’s totally unapologetic in her opinions and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, no matter what. She believes all women are bisexual, that most works of writing need to be more literal and graphic, and that being blunt, open, and honest about your sexuality is the key to good communication and relationships. On the surface, Julia seems strong, but she starts to crack once she realizes she actually doesn’t have it all figured out. I learned that teens who write fan fiction and erotic fan fiction are actually very similar to me. I have a lot in common with anyone who wants to escape into a new world and come up with their own stories. That’s what I do every day. I love people with ambition and passion for characters.
JB: Finally, tell me about your in-the-works script, Eskimo Sisters. Will we see it onscreen anytime soon? Who would be your dream cast?
HM: Yes! Eskimo Sisters is being made with some awesome producers, very soon. I’d love to cast some comedians I’ve seen who are underrated (and lots of my friends if possible.) My ultimate dream is to make movies with the people I love.
Credits: Weeds (Television, 2008-2009), The Runaways (2010), The Amazing Spiderman (2012), Anethesia (2015), Southbound (2015), Awkward (Television, 2015), Slash (2016), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (2016), Taipei (2017), Upcoming: Dark/Web (Television), Almost Home
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency was recently renewed for a second season on Netflix.
Hannah wears a dress by Dahlia and boots by Opening Ceremony.
Jaclyn Bethany: Hi, Antonia! Where are you originally from, and where are you currently based?
Antonia Thomas: I am from Greenwich in Southeast London, and I am currently still based in London - Borough (still south of the river, but a bit more central.)
JB: Did you always want to be an actor?
AT: From around the age of 11, I started to get into performing, or at least I loved being in school plays. I come from a family of performers (my dad was an opera singer and my sister is a musical theater actress), so I was very influenced by them. I was encouraged to join the National Youth Music Theatre when I was 13 by a teacher who could see that I liked to perform. I applied and got in and flew to Japan with my first show. It was magical. From then on, I knew that I wanted to be an actor.
JB: Do you recall the first film or theatrical work that inspired you?
AT: As a little girl, I loved the old musicals—one in particular that inspired me was West Side Story. I knew all the words, spoken and sung, and the music was wonderful. Even though I am a straight actress, music is hugely important to me and I love when there’s an opportunity for musicality within a job.
JB: When you’re reading a script, what attracts you to a role?
AT: Normally a role jumps out to me is she is a strong, intelligent woman who isn’t there just as a support to a man but has a trajectory of her own that is important to the story. All too often do you read scripts where the women are just there to prop up the men, to be the love interest. It is so exciting when you read a role that is multifaceted, complicated and independent of a man in her existence within the script.
JB: Lovesick recently premiered on Netflix. In your opinion, why should people watch this show?
AT: Because it’s sweet and funny and intelligent. I think it speaks really honestly about the period in ourlives where you have left University, you’re supposed to be on the right track, and know exactly what you’re aiming for and what you want to be, but all too often, you find yourself slightly floundering. In the case of the show and the characters, because of this uncertainty, they end up prolonging their uni existence and therefore delaying adulthood and reality. It’s beautifully honest about friendship and love and not wanting to rock the boat for fear of what that change might be, and I think it will resonate with a lot of people.
JB: The show also touches on the important issue of “casual” sex that faces our generation. It seems to really hit a nerve in today's digital age, in terms of how young people approach their sexuality and relationships.
AT: I think on one level, it does highlight the issues of safe sex and the need to be responsible and, hopefully on this level, it will encourage people to think twice before being reckless with their health. But the show is so much more than just centering around an STD. Sure, that’s the original premise, but in a way that’s more of a construct that allows us to delve easily back and forth into the past and present of these characters’ lives, allowing us to really explore them as people: what makes them tick, why they behave the way the do. If we’re jumping back six years because of a girlfriend that Dylan had then, it’s actually a window into Dylan, Luke, and Evie’s lives at that exact point, where you might learn something about their families or home lives or see something that they experienced together that has therefore informed them as people. As viewers, that little vignette will hopefully help you to understand who they are and why they act the way they do in the present day.
I was just hugely excited about getting to play a character where her arc spans a number of years—a character that I could really get to grips with as a person, plot her journey, and discover in detail what makes her tick.
JB: You also appeared on Misfits as Alisha for several years. What did you learn working on that show, and what was it like to play the same character over the course of a whole series?
AT: Misfits was my first job, and I was terrified when I first started, as I had had no experience of working in front of a camera. It was a steep learning curve and a brilliant one. I was lucky enough to have such a lovely story arc, and it was a wonderful first experience of going on a journey with a character.
JB: If you could play any role in the theater (male or female), what would it be and why?
AT: I would love to play Maggie in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. I loved the Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman movie, but the play is even better. Maggie is this incredibly strong, central, female character who, in the face of rejection from all sides (her husband, his family), still manages to hang on and remain strong. Even though she feels beaten down, she doesn’t ever give in.
All of the characters are deeply flawed and living a lie in one way or another, and the way they all grapple with their existence and within the lies they’ve told is fascinating. Maggie is a hugely complicated, fiery, flawed, and incredible female leading role, and I would love to play her one day. It would be a huge challenge, but I would love to take it on.
Credits: Misfits (Television 2009-2011), Sunshine on Leith (2013), Fleming (Television, 2014), Northern Soul (2014), Three Musketeers (Television, 2015), Lovesick (Television/Netflix, 2014-2016) Upcoming: Rearview
Antonia wears a top by Stella McCartney, Jeans by Frame, Shoes by Miu Miu, Bracelet by Alexis Bittar.
Say Lou Lou
Say Lou Lou [a.k.a. twin sisters Elektra June Kilbey-Jansson and Miranda Anna] is a musical duo hailing from Australia and Sweden. They released their first single “Maybe You” in 2012 by Kitsuné, before forming their own record label “a Deux,” and released their debut album, Lucid Dreaming, in 2015.
Our dad’s Australian and our mum’s Swedish and they’re both musicians, so music has always been a part of us. We moved to Sweden when we were three, but grew up between both [Sweden and Australia.] We started the band when we were 19; we both played a lot of music in school, but it was always just a hobby, and then we wrote a few songs and one thing led to another. Once we started the project, it was a very quick step into where we are now, and we’ve been catching up ever since. I think pop music and the craft of making music is very big in Sweden, and there are so many successful songwriters and musicians from [the country]. It’s really astonishing that such a small country can create such huge music. I’m not sure if we are a part of that hit music [scene], but I’m proud that Sweden is doing well.
Growing up, we listened to everything our parents were listening to, from David Bowie to Cowboy Junkies and Kate Bush. Kate Bush is our biggest idol, but we don’t sound anything like her. Recently, we really like how PJ Harvey reinvents herself with each album. The way [artists like] Bat For Lashes, Solange, and Beyoncé do conceptual albums is also really inspiring and interesting—getting away from trying to make a hit and centering around one piece.
Our first record was very much dream-wave pop, but I think our new record is going to be a bit more raw, a bit less perfect, a bit more to the bone. We want it to feel more conceptual and cohesive. Now we are really experimenting with our voices. We’ve played in L.A. twice—both were great shows. We started coming out to L.A. more regularly about two years ago. In the past few years, there’s been a big shift in L.A.—there seems to be more hungry, exciting artists based here now, so that’s exciting. Our American tour was a big highlight for us. We played the Roxy here in L.A. and Bowery Ballroom in New York, and it felt so special to play those iconic venues.
In addition to our music, it’s been fun to discover fashion (we recently went to a Chanel show.) Besides that, we’ve been tucked away writing and preparing for our next album. As far as our process of writing music, it’s quite hard to explain; it’s different every time. It can start with one of us, or it can be sparked by many things: a beat, a lyric idea, a chord progression. We would love to play with a rock band, like The Stones or Bryan Ferry, and be a part of one of those huge, theatrical shows. And if we weren’t musicians, we would still work in art—perhaps film, which feels like our second home. However, there aren’t enough female directors being given the chance to direct something big, even in Sweden, where public funding is rarely given to a woman…. We worked with director [and our friend] Joanna Nordahl on our last music video; she’s really great. [We think] representation is a big problem in film more than in any other artistic mediums at the moment. —Say Lou Lou
Elektra and Miranda wear dresses from Clementine Vintage
North Carolina-native Rainey Qualley is an actor and musician currently based in Los Angeles. She recently released several singles—“ S.I.D.” and “Too Close”—under her new musical venture, Rainsford. She has appeared in the indie film Falcon Song (2014) and on an episode of Mad Men.
I’ve been focusing on music more than acting…. but I think all of the arts kind of work together. About six months ago, I started fresh on my new project, Rainsford. I just released my new single, and I’m filming a music video for it. It’s been really great, because it’s the first time I’ve been completely in control of my career and my choices, and it’s been rewarding because I am releasing music that I really love. I like the idea of releasing single by single and then doing acoustic versions of the same songs. I’m kind of making it up as I go along. I’ve been singing my whole life. My dad taught me to play my guitar when I was a teenager, but singing was my first passion and the first thing I realized I was good at. Musically, I am inspired by a lot of different things. I think vocally, especially, I really love older motown stuff like Marvin Gaye and The Temptations, Diana Ross—there’s so much passion in their voices.
When I was really young, we lived out in Montana until I was nine. It was very idyllic and secluded—we didn’t have television or anything, so we played a lot of pretend, which I think lays the groundwork for being an actor. I studied acting in New York, and then did a few indie films. I still do, sometimes. I’m inherently shy, and I think acting allows me to do things that I wouldn’t do in my real life, like really explore human existence.
I lived all over over growing up—New York, Montana, North Carolina, Nashville—but what I like about L.A. is that you can be outdoors throughout the year. I love animals, the feeling of being in the wilderness—my sister and I will drive around at night and look for coyotes. Anything you want to do, you can find it in L.A. —Rainey Qualley
Rainey wears a from dress Clementine Vintage.
I first discovered acting when I was young and just had fun with it. Canada, where I’m from, [is home to] a lot of filming. We filmed Big Eyes in Vancouver, San Francisco, and Hawaii. I auditioned for the film, and I got cast off of a tape; I didn’t think I would get it, because I kept saying “Mom” the Canadian way, not the American way…. I remember meeting Tim Burton. I was obviously extremely nervous, and he was so kind and humble. I knew then that it was going to be a really incredible journey. I got to live out a dream. I look up to Amy Adams as a role model both on and off the camera; she is genuine and passionate about her career. I strive to be like her. —Madeleine Arthur
Credits: The Killing (Television, 2013), Big Eyes (2016), The Family (Television, 2016)
Madeleine wears a dress by Clementine Vintage; Choker stylist’s own.
[At the time of this interview], I am here in L.A (my hometown) performing in [Arthur Miller’s] play A View from the Bridge. I live in Brooklyn now, but I grew up in Sherman Oaks, and both my parents are actors. It’s something that I have always been surrounded by and interested in. I played Snoopy in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown when I was eight…. My first film was 13 Going On 30. I worked one day, for the slumber party scene. It was a lot of fun.
[In 2011], I performed in a play by Adam Rapp called The Edge of Our Bodies as part of The Humana Festival of New American Plays, in Kentucky. It was a solo show; he was the one who really gave me my start. I remember when I first read it, it reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye. I moved to New York and since then, I’ve been working in theater. I did this Off-Broadway play last summer called Gloria (which recently transferred to Goodman Theatre in Chicago)
For A View From the Bridge, the rehearsal days are very short. The director, Ivo van Hove, only does four-to-five-hour rehearsal days. It makes so much sense to you while you’re doing it—you give every ounce of concentration to those few hours…. Ivo is so gentle, but very precise. With my character, Catherine, I feel like I’m cheating, because all I have to do is say the words. [She] makes so much sense to me—her as a person. I really admire the playwright [Arthur Miller] and the way that he wrote this really dynamic, complicated role for a young woman with so much trust and scope, as opposed to her being an object, or someone who has two-dimensional dreams. He really wrote a part for a young woman that has this amazing trajectory and there aren’t many parts like that in the theater. Even if you have a conversation about Shakespeare, historically, those parts were played by men; they were not written with the thought that young women would play them…. The vulnerability and strength, the girlhood and womanhood and straddling those lines, has been so much fun. [Throughout my career], most of the directors I have worked with have been women, which is so cool. It just sort of happened that way,
Credits: Smokefall (Goodman Theatre, 2014), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre, 2015), A View From The Bridge (National Tour, Tony Award Winner, 2016), The Sensuality Party (Off-Broadway, The New Group, 2016), Film: The Blind Side (2009), 13 Going on 30 (2004)
Catherine wears a dress by Clementine Vintage.
I grew up in New Jersey. [I discovered acting] because they were shooting The Stepford Wives in my town, and I remember being on that set and finding the whole thing completely magical. That was my first foray into acting, but I didn’t really start acting until later in high school. I was sick, in the hospital, and afterwards I needed some kind of therapy, so I started taking acting classes. I moved to L.A. from New York after studying Acting and Cinema Studies at NYU.
I’m pretty new to L.A. I’ve done Criminal Minds out here—it was great, I threw myself off a cliff, you know, what I’ve always wanted to do. At the moment [actor-wise], I love Eva Green. She’s an actor’s actor, you know? And then Julianne Moore is always brilliant. I think that the industry is changing; the last television role I did was on Blue Bloods with a female director, and actually a lot of the shorts I have worked on were also led by female directors. As a female actor, I’ll get breakdowns for characters, and the first description you read is “beautiful,” “sexy,” or “actress must be comfortable with frontal nudity.” That’s even before they describe the character…. It’s definitely changing on a smaller level, which is nice to see, but I think women have to fight a lot harder to get where they [want to be] in the bigger scope of things in Hollywood.
Credits: Criminal Minds (Television, 2011), Blue Bloods (Television, 2015), Recollections (Short, 2015), Ladies Cheap Cocktails (2016)
Mani wears a dress by Maria Stanley.
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a woman in the arts, specifically in Los Angeles. I moved back a year ago and was welcomed by women in various fields with open arms—women who are eager to collaborate on various projects, women who demand that our points of view, our struggles, our dreams, and our general, varying perspectives are seen and heard. It’s a time where we are all listening to each other and we are all saying YES and wanting to come together and learn from each other. “There is power in unity and there is power in numbers.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that, and I feel that sentiment very profoundly in 2016/2017 with female-identifying artists across the board.
I really look up to and admire all forms of storytellers and women from various artistic mediums, such asthe playwrights Annie Baker, Theresa Rebeck, Suzan-Lori Parks—the great female writers of this century. I admire feminist writer Jessica Valenti. I admire characters—dream roles—such as Claire from Six Feet Under, Thelma and Louise, Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Jill Soloway; actresses like Juno Temple, Hari Nef, and Gina Rodriguez…. I could go on. Above all else though, I absolutely grab inspiration and hold deep admiration for actresses and creatives who don’t have high visibility just yet but who continue to create their own content.
I began embroidering as a way to get in touch with using my imagination tangibly, instead of relying solely on my body as my artistic instrument. I embroider mostly onto underwear but sometimes western shirts, jeans, or jackets. Wearable art interests me because it bleeds into many different mediums and it’s an incredibly accessible form of self-expression.
I believe that women are changing the script and creating opportunities for themselves if they’re not going to be provided for us by the industry. I myself am working on a venture with my writing partner for a web series called Partial Nudity Required, a sort of commentary on the industry’s limitations and sexism toward women. Nowadays, most of the people I collaborate with behind-the-scenes are women, and I am always inspired by their strength because, let's face it, they have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously—especially women of color, people above the age of 25, and/or anyone [making work] outside of what the industry views as “good enough.” All of these women are beyond good enough, and I admire them tremendously.
Credits: Eastville (2014), Glasshouse (Short, 2014), Addictions (Short, 2014), Tommy Battles the Silver Sea Dragon (2016)
Kaitlin wears a dress by John Galliano.
Maesa Pullman is a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, where she frequently performs. She released her debut EP, WHIPPOORWILL, in June 2013 and is currently working on her first full-length album.
[Growing up], my parents played a lot of bluegrass, folk, and motown—[my love of music] started with loving the feeling of listening to music. Everything was so much more inspiring when a song was playing. I received a compilation of women songwriters from my uncle, which included Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, [and] Patsy Cline….
At Hamsphire College in Massachusetts, I made up my own major: interdisciplinary performance. My final project was a musical performance with heightened theatrical and visual elements that transformed the space. It was like a poetic, abstract performance in three chapters…. Before I started playing guitar, I sounded more like a singer-songwriter. I was really trying to craft a new kind of song. Since then, I have gone back to what’s enjoyable to play, which might be more derivative of my idols and music that I love. I have a problem with wanting to be everything at once, and it’s taken me so long to find my sound, but I am so grateful for getting to explore my voice as a musician. —Maesa Pullman
Maesa wears a dress from Clementine Vintage.
I grew up in Santa Monica, California, where I [performed] in children's theater. I was a shy kid, and it allowed me to let loose, be creative, and express myself in ways I couldn't outside of that context. But I think I realized that I really wanted to pursue acting as a career after I did a short film when I was 15 and fell in love with the energy of being on set.
My most memorable film experience was probably being directed by Kathryn Bigelow in an HBO pilot written by John Logan (It ended up not going to series, which was, of course, disappointing.) The studio was hesitant about casting me because I'd never done any feature film or television work before, but Kathryn and John were such champions of me. During filming, I got to watch this amazing woman command the set with such authority and ease, while staying open and really listening to people and connecting emotionally with the actors. It was a huge, very inspiring learning experience. I also recently did a play by Christopher Durang called Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. I hadn’t done theater in a couple years, and I'd almost forgotten how much I love it!
In Sleeping With Other People, I play George, who’s Natasha Lyonne's character's girlfriend. She's very open about her sexuality and what she likes. It was so much fun to film (and led by another incredible woman director, Leslye Headland!) I was a little nervous about improvising with such hilarious, quick-witted women (e.g. Natasha and Alison Brie), but I quickly realized that I had to just jump in and go for it. It’s exciting that the women-in-film movement is gaining traction now. I just saw that all of the second season of Jessica Jones will be lead by female directors. I can't picture that happening even a few years ago. Of course, we have a long way to go, but it's encouraging that it's really being looked at and talked about. I'd like to try producing at some point. Seeing the other side of filmmaking, how the pieces all come together somehow, would be fascinating. I think producers are some of the unsung heroes of this industry. —Remy Nozik
Credits: The Next Three Days (2010), The Miraculous Year (Television, 2011), Goodbye World (2013), Sleeping with Other People (2015), Secrets and Lies (Television, 2016), Upcoming: Lonely Hearts Club, Socially Unacceptable (Television)
Remy wears a dress by Clementine Vintage; choker stylist’s own.
Alexandra Roxo, a blazing red-haired, multi-disciplinary artist with multiple film credits to her name, knows no limits when it comes to her art. Roxo, who was raised between Brazil, Miami, Florida, and Marietta, Georgia, says of her path to the arts, “From a young age, I really wanted to act. I really wanted to speak up, more than anything, even though I am not sure I knew what that meant. Acting led to writing. I wrote some plays, and then I wrote some short films. It was something that was just in me.”
Roxo eventually made her way to New York City for university, where she began making her first experimental films, which found their way to various festivals and galleries. She loved playing with “film and color,” as well as “using [herself] as a vehicle for artistic expression.” Her low-budget feature film, Mary Marie (2010), now available on Amazon, centered on two women who are best friends, as well as sisters in their own way.
She’s since gone on to create a web series (Be Here Nowish) and documentary (Serrano Shoots Cuba), and is currently at work on a new series based on her writing about the intersection of sexuality and spirituality. In regular workshops that she hosts in L.A., Roxo regularly engages with storytelling, meditation, and shamanic healing, which she’s been practicing for over a decade. She recalls that when she was starting out, even her theater work often maintained a ritualistic quality.
Roxo remains relatively new to L.A., having only officially moved to the city a year ago. “I can have more of a quiet presence and [there’s] more space,” she says. “I feel like this is the beginning of a new era.” ★
Credits: As Director: Bere Here Nowish (Television 2014-2016, also actress), Seranno Shoots Cuba (Documentary 2015), Every Woman: Life as a Truck Stop Stripper (Documentary Short, 2014), Mary Marie (2010), Bemvido (Short, 2010), The Heart is What Remains (Short, 2009), Out of the Blue (Short, 2008)
Alexandra wears a dress by Free People.
Interviews and text by Jaclyn Bethany. All women (unless otherwise noted) styled by Nicole Deutsch. Photographer: Grace Pickering. Hair and makeup: Laci Riley. Photographer's Assistant: Jacquie Ray. Editorial Assistant: Annalee Richards.
For Hannah Marks and Antonia Thomas: Hair and Makeup: Athena Kiapos. Styling: Jaclyn Bethany.
For Odessa Young. Hair and Makeup: Melody Jae. Styling: Jaclyn Bethany.