Sasha Lane: The Fashion Muse We Need Right Now
It’s a Saturday morning, early enough that it only takes me 20 minutes to get from the Westside of Los Angeles to Echo Park, the neighborhood Sasha Lane calls home. I’m meeting the actress—Hollywood’s beloved indie darling—at one of her favorite local spots, Stories Books & Cafe, a small business serving up exactly what you’d expect: books, brews, and bites. She arrives shortly after I do with her dog, Homey, in tow, and we grab a seat on the back patio. It’s been a dismal week, to say the least, with the sudden passing of designer Kate Spade and chef/journalist Anthony Bourdain, but Lane is the embodiment of positivity in a tie-dye pink T-shirt with denim cutoffs and glitter-covered Vans, her nails painted a sparkly light blue.
She is the energy we all need right now.
One can only imagine that same energy was the impetus for her discovery. Before Lane landed on the It list of nearly every industry producer and director—a result of her raw performance in 2016’s American Honey—she was a Texas State University student taking classes in psychology and social work, and her story went something like this: Hanging out with friends on a Florida beach during spring break, she caught the eye of director Andrea Arnold, who convinced her to audition for the lead role in her film. While Lane’s right-place, right-time discovery is a storied industry tale, that’s where the similarities between her and other young starlets end.
Lane caters to a new generation, bucking all the Hollywood ingénue clichés, from her sexuality and appearance—she’s a biracial gay woman with dreadlocks and tattoos—to her project selection philosophy. But even better, she’s not afraid to call bullshit on industry elite who say they want “real” and “raw” but then throw that all out the window for the safe choice. That’s the exciting thing about Lane; she’s not afraid to take risks, bring authentic stories to the big screen, or, most importantly, ensure inclusivity and diversity in Hollywood aren’t just trends.
You can see this reflected in her résumé. Four out of the six projects listed on Lane’s IMDb page are directed by women, and two of her character credits identify as LGBTQ+. She may not be exclusively seeking out these types of projects, but the impact they’ve had on her
(and audiences) is not lost on Lane.
“Andrea really solidified how I felt about being vulnerable and how women see characters,” she says. “I keep being in these situations where I’m making vulnerable films with these women who are actually allowing me to be a full character, not just a pretty girl, not just three fucking descriptions we see in every script,” she says. At once sweet and tough, fearful and confident, graceful and crude, Lane can’t be whittled down to just three descriptions any more than the rest of the human race.
This month, we see Lane in the feel-good indie story Hearts Beat Loud, about a widowed father (Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman) trying to make the most of his final weeks with his college-bound daughter (Kiersey Clemons) by forming an unlikely music duo. Lane is fantastic as Rose, Clemons’s character’s love interest. The part afforded Lane the opportunity to collaborate and bring her personal truth to their story, a dynamic not commonly portrayed on the big screen. “[Director] Brett Haley was like, I’m a straight white man. I know nothing about a biracial lesbian relationship. What should we do?” laughs Lane. “And then we just started going through the entire script and working on it, and it gave me confidence to speak my mind and steer the direction of how something should go, that I shouldn’t just say, Whatever you want! Because no, I have an opinion, I have a mind, and Brett offered that to us.”
While Lane has her own experiences to draw from for Hearts Beat Loud, nothing could prepare her for the gut punch that was The Miseducation of Cameron Post. The film follows the journey of teenager Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) as she is forced to enter a gay conversion therapy center after her romance with a close female friend is exposed.
“My initial thoughts were like, whoa!” Lane tells us. “It is set in 1993, and that is not that long ago. And then I started reading books about it and talking to Chloë and the director, Desiree [Akhavan], more about it. Chloë is so smart and intellectual and is always doing research. She was telling me how this is now. The fact that we were filming during the inauguration, it made that film hit us much harder and made us want to work that much harder for it.” That passion to do right by the story clearly paid off; the film would go on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
Not only is Lane winning over critics and audiences with her performances, but she’s a bona fide fashion muse, too, with first-rate designers clamoring to dress her. Just last month, she accompanied Tory Burch to the Met Gala in a custom ivory gown featuring gathered tulle and Chantilly lace, her dreadlocks decorated with crystal strands. When I ask about the collaboration, she admits it was a shock even to her at first. “I was intrigued, because I was like, Tory wants me?” says says. “She wants me at her table? Has she seen me—has she seen what I look like?”
The two built a connection in that small amount of time, Lane tells us, bonding over their relationships with their brothers. And while the Met Gala red carpet can be intimidating to even the most veteran Hollywood talent, the rising star felt completely at ease her second time around.
“I had so much confidence and I felt so good in what I wore that even when I saw Rihanna—
who of course always looks banging, and it’s fucking Rihanna—I was like, I don’t even feel less than; I don’t feel intimidated or anything. We’re both just here looking beautiful as shit. It made me feel like I can stand among these people and still feel beautiful.”
At this rate, with the career Lane is carving for herself, she won’t just stand among industry giants. She’ll surpass them.
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