Sasha Lane, who starred in Andrea Arnold’s 2016 Cannes-winning pic American Honey in her first feature role, has signed with WME. The part earned her a Best Actress British Independent Film Award.
Lane currently appears in a pair of Sundance 2018 films: Hearts Beat Loud opposite Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons in theaters now, and grand prize winner The Miseducation of Cameron Post starring Chloë Grace Moretz. The latter pic bows August 3 via FilmRise.
Most recently, Lane starred in the SXSW film Shotgun, and she’s next up in Lionsgate’s Hellboy reboot opposite David Harbour and Milla Jovovich which hits screens January 11.
Lane, who had been based at Gersh, remains repped by The Long Run’s Amy BonFleur and attorney André Des Rochers.
I’ve added a handful of film images, photo sessions, and scan additions to the gallery. They are all lovely. More soon. Enjoy!
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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In a world inundated with films about angsty artists rebelling against their more traditional parents, Hearts Beat Loud is the breath of fresh air that we didn’t even know we needed. Yes, it’s another entry into the, “‘You’re giving up on your dream.’ ‘No, Dad. I’m giving up on yours,’” film canon, but with a welcome twist: 18-year-old Sam (Kiersey Clemons) wants to attend UCLA for medical school and her father, record shop owner Frank, wants her to stay in New York and start a band with him. Frank (Nick Offerman) is the quintessential goofy dad, pulling his daughter away from studying so they can “jam sesh.” He plays an old guitar, and she plays a keyboard hooked up to a Macbook; he represents old school rock, and she represents contemporary pop. Together, they make an unlikely songwriting duo called “We Are Not A Band.”
But underneath this saccharine premise, father and daughter struggle to heal from a family death. Sam copes by burying herself in medical textbooks and planning to move to LA, while Frank smokes cigarettes and drinks at the bar, ignoring his failing record shop. By channelling their trauma into writing music, the pair finds that forming a band may have the potential to be a healthier coping mechanism.
The original music by Keegan DeWitt is infuriatingly catchy (I keep finding myself blasting the title song in my car as I drive around the city), with Clemons’ powerhouse vocals standing out amongst the bouncy synths. Along with her breakthrough performance as rapper/drummer Diggy in Dope (2015) Clemons has now officially claimed the niche title of musical indie darling.
Not only does Clemons possess the voice of an angel, she’s got the acting chops to boot. Her expressive eyes communicate through slow, thoughtful blinks and longing stares, telling us exactly what’s going through her head. The way she gazes at her girlfriend, Rose (Sasha Lane of American Honey), exudes a deep affection that’s louder than words could ever scream. And yet, her character Sam still manages to express these feelings through writing love songs for We Are Not A Band. It’s a difficult task to not shed a tear as Sam croons to Rose, “You told me to be brave and I will remember that.” It’s a task I failed spectacularly.
But I’ve gushed enough about Clemons. I must keep reminding myself that there are other characters in the film, too. Like current reigning scream queen Toni Collette, playing Frank’s landlady, who delivers a delicious karaoke rendition of “Bruises” by Chairlift. And Ted Danson, playing Frank’s chronically stoned bartender, who doesn’t really add anything to the plot, but is hilarious nonetheless. Though the film struggles to find satisfying arcs for these characters, and at times can feel like a not-so-subtle Spotify ad, these few missteps are masked by its feel-good, charm-filled atmosphere.
Okay, now back to Clemons. The revolutionary thing about her character is that she doesn’t experience any discrimination based on her race or her lesbianism throughout the entire film. As a mixed race bisexual woman, I saw myself in Sam when she joked around with her white dad and kissed her girlfriend underneath the city streetlights. While some may claim that erasing our issues is unrealistic, which it may be, it’s so refreshing to escape into a world where your marginalized identity isn’t a constant weight on your shoulders.
Films about LGBTQ+ characters have historically carried the burden of having to explain to the heterosexual audience the oppression that the community faces. We are finally beginning to get to a point where gay characters in semi-mainstream film can simply live without the entire plot being about their struggles with sexuality. Obviously, this does not mean that homophobia is over. It’s alive, and it’s ugly. But I’m tired of watching dramas where gay characters’ hearts get broken. Let them beat. Loud.
Directed and co-written by Brett Haley, “Hearts Beat Loud” isn’t exactly a coming-of-age musical, but still uses music as a vital part of its storytelling. As a father and daughter (Nick Offerman and Kiersey Clemons) write and play songs as a fun thing to do together before she heads away to college, she also embarks on a fizzy, freeing romance with a girl named Rose (Sasha Lane).
In his review for The Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, “[E]nergized by Offerman and Clemons, the effectiveness of the music and the emotional freshness of ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ are finally triumphant. Sometimes wearing your heart on your sleeve is the only way to go.”
Tre’vell Anderson spoke to Clemons and Lane about the film and the offhanded ease with which it deals with issues of diversity and representation. Asked when she first saw herself reflected on-screen, Lane responded, “Is it really … sad that maybe ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ was the first time that I actually saw myself? I can choose other things that I’ve done but I don’t know anything else that I connected with me on every single level.”
At the Village Voice, Ren Jender celebrated the film’s love story, noting, “Clemons, who played the soft butch Diggy in ‘Dope’ and Lane, who is also in the upcoming ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post,’ are both out, queer women of color. In their characters, we see the unalloyed joy and relief in having found one another that some of us might remember from our own queer first loves.”
The actress continues to stun audiences with her performances in the Sundance hits “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” and “Hearts Beat Loud.”
“Oh man, that was insane,” says Sasha Lane of learning that The Miseducation of Cameron Post won the coveted Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Lane’s role in the coming-of-age tale, adapted from a novel and centered on teens at a gay conversion therapy camp called God’s Promise, was one that touched her from the outset. “Having a gay brother and also being amongst that community myself, it’s like, you don’t want anyone to go through this. I was reading it on the plane and then I met with Desiree [Akhavan], the director, that same night. The connection we shared and the way she spoke about the film made me want to be a part of it even more,” Lane explains. “The movie is set in ’93—that’s not long ago, and to know that [conversion therapy] is still going on now, it’s just something that needs to be spoken about.”
Filming the movie alongside co-star Chloë Grace Moretz was an immersive experience. “The place where we shot it was some type of resort or camp, so we basically lived there, which was kind of eerie because we had the God’s Promise sign up and we were always around each other, so we constantly were, like, in the movie,” says Lane. Meanwhile, the outside world, and the current socio-political climate, only bolstered their resolve that the project was an important one. “The inauguration was happening when we were filming,” recalls Lane. “We were all pretty upset, but Desiree gave this really big speech and it just kind of made us all realize what we were really doing and why we were there.”
Lane’s other Sundance film, Hearts Beat Loud—the sweet story of a father (Nick Offerman) and daughter (Kiersey Clemons) becoming an unlikely song-writing duo during the last summer before she leaves for college—serves a purpose in trying times as well. “It means a lot because it’s just such a feel-good movie, and I think we need that, because sometimes movies are escapes or just a way to warm your heart,” says Lane. “To work with Kiersey was amazing—to play two biracial women in a gay relationship, it just felt like something, like we finally get to be represented, and other people will feel represented too.”
The actress from ‘American Honey’ — and the upcoming ‘Hellboy’— grew up broke and learned the lesson of not wanting things. Which was its own kind of blessing.
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I grew up in Frisco, Texas, a suburb on the outskirts of Dallas. My dad, a truck driver, took off when my brother and I were little, and my mom, a native New Zealander of Maori descent, had to raise us on her own. She worked her ass off — at a bank, at a Hyundai factory — but still, it was always a constant struggle to make ends meet.
We never had money. You learn, as a kid whose family is broke, not to ask for things. You even learn not to want things. Just be happy with the basics you need to survive: food, clothes, and a place to live, which my mom always found a way to provide. But every year, as Christmas approached, it meant the same heartbreaking ritual. My mom would sit my brother Sergio and I down and say to us, “I’m so sorry, but there won’t be any Christmas presents this year. I just can’t really make it happen.” She’d have tears in her eyes. It wasn’t the lack of presents that broke my heart; it was seeing my mom feeling like she’d failed us, even though we’d tell her again and again that she hadn’t. I knew she would give us the shirt off her back if she had to, and her love meant more than a thousand presents under the tree.
At the age of 7, I started working. My mom found people close by who would hire me to clean their homes — windows, mirrors, living rooms, dining tables. I had a knack for making windows especially clean, spraying Windex and wiping it away with an old rag in figure eights. If I was lucky, they’d pay me a buck or two for an hour of work, and maybe give me some ice cream. Sometimes, I got sick of my hands and clothes smelling like cleanser, and I felt like my mom was pimping me out — I didn’t want to spend another weekend polishing windows. My mom had simply been teaching me — at an early age — what it means to work, and how to take pride in your work.
As a teenager, I got a job at an Italian restaurant as a food runner and a hostess. You weren’t supposed to work as a waitress until you were 18, but I managed to do it on the sly. I knew how to sell wine really well, and the management liked the higher tabs from my tables, so they let it slide that I wasn’t quite of age. The math made sense to me — the more wine I sold, the higher my tips.
Later, when I started college, I worked at a strip mall Tex-Mex restaurant called On The Border, making minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. I was at a real crossroads. I’d taken some psychology classes at Texas State University, but the classroom felt too far removed from the actual work of being a social worker, which is what I wanted to become — I liked the idea of one day helping kids who’d grown up with some of the same struggles as me. I joined some friends on a spring break trip to Panama City, Florida. And that’s when fate intervened.
While I was drinking on the beach with my friends one afternoon, a woman named Andrea Arnold approached me. She said she was a filmmaker, and told me about a movie she was making called American Honey, about a crew of lost teenagers roaming the country. We hit it off and spent a few days together; my friends even went back to Texas without me. Eventually, Andrea asked me to play the lead role, alongside Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough.
This might sound like a dream come true, and it was. But most of the people in my life, including family and friends, were totally against the idea of me doing the movie. They wanted me to stay in school — they had no faith in the project, and the idea of starting a film career just seemed to them like a fantasy, even as it was being offered to me. My mom was the one person who encouraged me to pursue it. She told me, “I don’t understand you, but I know that you’re different. I know that there’s something special inside you, and I want you to go for this opportunity because I think it’s what’s meant for you.” Never mind all the Christmas holidays without presents — that support and encouragement is the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
For someone with basically zero acting experience, making the movie was hard work. But my whole life had prepared me for working hard. The painful part, really, was separating from all my newfound friends when we finally finished filming. A year later, the movie premiered at Cannes and became a hit. Even without a plan, I’d found the beginning of a meaningful, fulfilling career.
Beyond the creative and spiritual fulfillment of acting in movies, the financial rewards have been a thrill. Not because I like to spend money on myself. I’m a simple person and I don’t need a lot. As a kid, I built the idea in my mind that I would never waste money on unnecessary things; and now that I have money, I don’t. My most frivolous purchase has probably been a pair of shoes that light up when I skip around in them.
But what I love more than anything is spending money on other people, because I always wished I could give everything to the people who matter most to me. Recently, I gave my mom a plane ticket so she could go back to New Zealand, where she grew up, and visit everybody. She hadn’t been back for 30 years, since she left for America in her twenties, not once. When I was growing up, she would always talk longingly about her hometown, and my dream was to one day give her the chance to go home. To make that possible for her is the greatest gift I could ever give her.
Every day, on her trip, she would call me and tell me about her adventures. She would bombard me with glorious pictures. My mom has seven sisters and she hadn’t seen them in three decades. Being with them made her literally glow with happiness. Whoever said “money can’t buy happiness” never bought plane tickets for their mom to go home to New Zealand after 30 years.
Buying my first apartment has also meant a lot to me. As someone who’s always been independent and done things on my own, I admit that it felt pretty badass to buy my own place. I found a great spot in L.A., and my brother Sergio moved in with me. Every day I almost want to cry because I’m so happy that my brother is able to be out in L.A. with me, and can focus on his own dreams without worrying about paying rent.
Ultimately, while I like having money more than I liked being broke, chasing money will never be a goal for me. What can bring lasting happiness? Meaningful relationships. Connection. Positive moments that sneak up and surprise you. Finding beauty in everything you can.
As told to Davy Rothbart exclusively for Wealthsimple; transcript edited and condensed for clarity.
Sasha Lane – the girl who never asked for fame – sure is getting a whole lot of recognition. From working at a Mexican restaurant in Texas to living like a star in Los Angeles, Lane seems to have dropped out of the sky and taken the film world by storm. With three movies on the way, 22-year old Lane has a lot to celebrate.
From her debut role in the 2016 film American Honey to her upcoming roles in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Heart Beats Loud, and Hellboy, Lane is certainly on the road to success. After being scouted by female filmmaker Andrea Arnold while spring breaking in Panama City, Florida, Lane got the opportunity to star alongside Shia LaBeouf (Fury) and Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road). Having never acted before, she still snagged the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor, which certainly catapulted her to where she is now.
Half African-American and half European-Māori, Lane has a lot to offer when it comes to diversity. Not only is she a woman of color, but she also came out as gay while promoting The Miseducation of Cameron Post. The film is about a treatment center that uses conversion therapy to treat patients of their “gayness” and features familiar faces like Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty). Not only did the film get favorable ratings, but it was also directed by a kickass Iranian female director named Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior).
If you have social media (which you must do by now), Sasha Lane’s world is just a click, swipe, and follow away. She speaks openly about racial issues, political issues, and herself, unafraid to expose the wrongdoings of the industry even as she is breaking into it. She is certainly the firecracker that Hollywood didn’t know it needed.
It’s the stuff of Hollywood lore: in 2015, Andrea Arnold, the auteur behind Fish Tank and Red Road (both winners of the Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize), had the lead of her next movie drop out, so she flew to Florida during spring break to cast a new star. She found Sasha Lane. Tipsily hanging out with her friends on the beach, Lane, with her dreadlocks and intense self-possession, was impossible to ignore.
Arnold approached her. The advances were initially met with skepticism— porn producers use similar recruiting tactics—but, after a series of impromptu auditions in hotel rooms and parking lots, Lane went along. A year later, American Honey won Arnold a third Cannes Jury Prize, and most of the buzz surrounding it came from Lane’s unforgettable performance as Star, a young woman who falls in with a crew of mostly abandoned kids, selling magazines door- to-door across the country— sort of a cross between summer camp and human trafficking. An independent, multifaceted soul, she is by turns curious and cagy, strong-willed and submissive. The emotional range Lane displays is as vast as the empty American landscapes Star and her crew pass through.
Much like Star, Sasha Lane wields a fiery independent streak. “I think the reason I was discovered the way I was is that I’m not like everyone else,” she says. When she was growing up in rural, working-class Texas, Hollywood had been less a real place and more of an abstract—not necessarily positive—idea. In her new life, Lane says that she’s much more hopeful. “Now I can express myself and move in the direction I want to move. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” She pauses. “But I have more anxiety, too.” She’s says she’s focused on “clearing out bad shit,” and that her home is a source of comfort and stability: “I have a brother and a dog. What else do you need?”
Lane appears in threefilms that come out in 2018,including a turn alongside Chloë Grace Moretz in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, an adaptation of Emily M. Danforth’s novel about evangelical conversion therapy. Lane plays Jane Fonda—not that Jane Fonda—Cameron’s friend and fellow inmate at God’s Promise, an anti- gay brainwashing camp. Jane is feisty and funny, a consistently bright spot in a morose picture. Lane was attracted to the role because, as a queer woman, she is particularly disturbed by the subject matter. “It’s wrong,” she says, adding that although the movie is set in the ‘90s, “it’s happening now. It’s not something that just happened years ago.”
The Miseducation of Cameron Post comes out in the United States in August, but before that audiences will see Lane in theaters as Rose, the love interest of Sam Fisher (Kiersey Clemons) in Hearts Beat Loud. Comparatively, it’s much more of a feel-good movie, cute and full of music. The story centers on Sam’s father (Nick Offerman), who tries to talk Sam into putting off college to start a band with him; Rose provides inspiration for Sam to write songs, as well as further motivation to stay home. Their scenes together have an easy, natural intimacy, for which Lane credits director Brett Haley, who reached out to her and Clemons for input in developing their characters and relationship. “He understood that he’s a straight white man, and we’re two biracial girls. It was our story, and he allowed us to tell it.”
Lane also has a small role in indie rom-com Shotgun, which screened at SXSW in March. She says she appeared in the movie to support one of the directors, Hannah Marks. “She’s a woman, she’s young. I really admire her.” Finally, early next year, Lane will be in a reboot of the Hellboy series. She learned much about the modern filmmaking craft, she says, as part of a big-budget superhero movie production, with its elaborate costumes and green-screens.
This broad array of roles is no accident. Lane doesn’t want to be in just any movie; she needs to be invested in an artistic project. “I really enjoy acting when I feel connected to my characters, when it says something to me.” Though the world of actors and acting didn’t necessarily call to a young Lane, she always had a sense of empathy for characters. “I could always get really into characters, really invested, put my mind into their mind.”
Lane’s no-bullshit approach is evident not just in her choices of work, but on her Twitter feed—where one might find a cheeky joke about smoking weed alongside a sincere reflection on the pain of being labelled and “put into a box” as a gay person followed by a post that consists entirely of the word “FUCK” repeated 56 times— or on her Instagram, where she’s as likely to post an iPhone lip- syncing video as her latest photoshoot. Even when asked how she likes living in Los Angeles, Lane doesn’t hold back. “The weather is nice… You can find a lot of vegetables… But I miss being around genuine people who I feel like I can trust.” Trusting in herself, then, has become essential. “It’s almost a survival thing. I have to be who I am. I don’t have any interest fitting in with everyone here.”
What great artist has ever fit in? Outsiders can question; outsiders can subvert; outsiders can speak hard truths to a society that wants to ignore them, like American Honey does. One hopes Sasha Lane gets more roles like that. As indispensable as she is to Hearts Beat Loud and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, she’s like a glowing meteor in orbit around those films. But when she herself is the star, her magnetism is inescapable. We shouldn’t have to wait for long. With a talent as singular as hers, it’s only a matter of time.