The product line, which Ross says has been a decade in the making (she wrote her first brand pitch as Girlfriends was ending in 2008), offers a hydration shampoo, three types of conditioners (aimed to service women with curls, coils, and tight hair textures), a leave-in conditioner, a shower brush, and more.
In the age of social media, women of color have been able to find niche communities that speak exactly to their needs more easily than in previous years, turning to influencers on YouTube and Instagram for advice on a range of natural-hair topics including protective styling, trimming, and styling hair of various textures and lengths. “I think [social media has] given a whole bunch of people access [who] would have never been given access before,” Ross says. “The industry has woken up, but I’m grateful that there are other avenues because the gatekeepers of the industry have not, in any way, reflected the reality of the world around them.”
How does one follow up a whirlwind 2019 award season? Well, in Bo Burnham’s case, you star in the ultimate female revenge thriller. Promising Young Woman is a dream project for the celebrated writer/director of Eighth Grade thanks to a razor-sharp script by Emerald Fennell and a noteworthy cast.
On the appeal of Promising Young Woman: “Everything was appealing about the project. Truly, it was an incredible script with a very confident and assured and versed-in-her-own-ideas filmmaker and Carey, who is
and directed it, just two of them. It felt very inspiring to watch that come to life and also to see something that could be considered a buddy comedy with such depth and such sophistication with this kind of art house-y, Francophile, definitely cinephile quality to it.”
On the stories she is drawn to as an actress: “I’m looking to tell the kinds of stories of how I feel as a woman. I feel that women, we are in a really powerful moment and have a lot of opportunity, but there is still a lot to fight for. I still feel like there are ways we can be more equally represented and maybe even be treated like men are treated and hold each other up to a really high standard and explore stories that are about real women and not necessarily just really strong women or just really fragile women. There is this really lovely gray area that I’m interested in.”
Zola, a film based on the viral Twitter thread documented by A'Ziah “Zola” King in 2015, was perhaps the most talked-about film out of Sundance, and its lead, the electric Taylour Paige, knows why. “My initial reaction [to reading the story] was kind of like this: Wait, what? Scroll, scroll, yo! Scroll, scroll, no!,” says Paige. “People remember where they were when [the tweets] came out. When I finally did read the tweets, I was shooketh.” Directed by the brilliant Janicza Bravo, this A24 juggernaut film is not to be missed.
On how the role of Zola changed her: “I feel like I’ve spent a lot of my life apologizing for myself and embarrassed for having low self-esteem or low self-confidence and just working on undoing that. I’m very spiritual, so I feel like every role I take I’m meeting another layer of me. And so when
Sitting next to co-star Aubrey Plaza, Sarah Gadon reveals she was relieved when she saw Black Bear for the first time, no doubt a response to spending two months filming a suspenseful thriller in the remote Adirondack Mountains. She describes her character, Blair, as “uptight, scared, and earnest,” and together, Gadon, Plaza, and Christopher Abbott make a perfect trio in this darkly playful movie.
Photographer: Amar Daved Stylist: Shibon Kennedy STyLIST ASSITANT: Bastien Allen
HairStylist: Marcia Hamilton Makeup ArTist: Lottie using RealHer Makeup Manicurist: Maho Tanaka
Proenza Schouler Wool Scarf Blazer ($1890); A.W.A.K.E. Mode Artemon Wide Leg Trousers ($477);
Agmes Large Bell Earrings (similar style here)
know, looks like ‘Hey, I’m coming from clearly a hot country, but I’m doing the snow thing,’ so that’s been quite cool. But in that, whilst you are looking at these cool outfits, you are like, Oh my god, I love your work, but I’m not going to stop you because it’s Main Street.”
On her 2020 motto: “Make interesting choices—well-intentioned, interesting choices.”
just a huge fan, and his agent had called me and said what about Pilou for this role, and I immediately got incredibly excited. And Ella was a total shock because I didn’t know her at all. When I met Ella and we Skyped for the first time, I remember texting our producer [Beatriz Sequeira] and saying I could not take my eyes off of her. And I just think that’s a quality some actors have that you just cannot look away. It is an incredible experience working with a young actress at the beginning of her career that I just know is going to go far.”
On her 2020 obsession: “I think it’s a really cool time for women right now, and I’m obsessed with all the women filmmakers here [at Sundance] and can’t wait to see their films. I just feel like we are moving in the right direction, and that’s what gets me excited about 2020.”
On seeing the completed film for the first time: “I couldn’t believe it was a movie. I thought it didn’t happen. … My first reaction to the film when I saw it was Whoa, man. That is a lot. That’s a big swing. Not sure if it’s going to work out, and I guess we will find out at Sundance.”
Photos by Emily Soto for Who What Wear
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi coat; Stella McCartney dress; Sacai leggings; Mounser necklace; Alighieri A Portrait of the Artist Necklace
($418), The Infernal Stone Gold-Plated Ring ($225), and The Tale of Casella Ring ($342); Faris Mid Dip Ring ($145); Valentino sandals
When writer/director Josh Ruben called Aya Cash (You’re The Worst) and asked her to spend three weeks in the woods together to see who could outdo the other with their best scary stories, she didn't have to think twice. “Josh Ruben is one classy dude, and he was a friend, so I knew I was going to be in good hands,” she tells us of working on horror-comedy Scare Me. Dynamic performances by Cash and Ruben make this refreshing take on the genre a must-see.
On her own personal scary story: “My best scary story is when I was a kid, the word Duffy was scratched on my window from the inside, and I didn’t
I used to sit in my mom's dressing room and watch her get dressed. … I was the one who used to steal stuff out of her closet and play in that world.
When Brooklyn couple Su and Jack decide to take a break from their phones and retreat to a remote location to reconnect IRL, they miss a “major calamity,” as Save Yourselves! star John Reynolds puts it. Reynolds and co-star Sunita Mani were forced to stay mum on any other plot details for their comedy, but if their real-life chemistry and banter is any indication of what to expect on screen, we are in for a very fun ride.
On unplugging in real life: “For me, one time I went on a weeklong river rafting trip on the Salmon River in Idaho and unplugged for that whole week. You never know what is going to be going on in the world, but when we got back, the only thing that was happening was that Pokémon Go was popping off.”
On her love of period projects: “I think I’m drawn to period projects because I grew up loving fantasy and world building, and I get to time-travel into these worlds that feel so unfamiliar to me and play people who are really different from me and far removed from myself, and it’s a real gift as an actor to get to do that.”
On the people winning the red carpet right now: “There are so many amazing people in the fashion space right now. Billy Porter, he just kills. He brings something bold, exciting, and new to every red carpet he walks. I always look forward to seeing what he is going to wear when he shows up. Tessa Thompson, she is always taking cool risks and redefining classic styles. Tracee Ellis Ross, she is fearless. I’m always excited to see what she is going to wear. Millie Bobby Brown, a young fashionista in the making. I loved what she wore to the SAG Awards, that white two-piece suit—really chic.”
In addition to inspiring Pattern, Ross’s hair journey also inspired an episode of Mixed-ish, the new Black-ish spin-off she executive-produces and narrates. The show centers on three siblings (including the oldest sister, Rainbow, who is the younger version of Ross’s Black-ish character) who struggle to deal with being mixed after they were displaced from life on a commune where they’d previously lived unaffected by race. Recently, critics have reflected on the ways in which Mixed-ish tackles race, with some writing that the series paints a simplistic view. “What I think is wonderfully important and beautiful about the show is that we are attempting to unpack and talk about something that is not often talked about, if ever, in this interesting juxtaposition between the black and the white when you are that mixed person,” Ross says when asked about critiques of the show.
ultimate celebrity sighting destination. And for us, it’s a time to get better acquainted with the stars we’ll be talking about all year long, both familiar faces (hi, Rachel Brosnahan, Aubrey Plaza, and Carey Mulligan!) and cool fresh faces, like the aforementioned Gibbs. This year, we partnered with Free People, setting up shop in the brand’s new store right off historic Main Street. We invited some of the festival’s most exciting talent, outfitted in chic cold-weather looks (a particular favorite was Gayle Rankin in The Elder Statesman and Area), to partake in some casual couch conversations and a candid Polaroid session with photographer Emily Soto. Keep scrolling to see all the great moments that came out of the Who What Wear x Free People Sundance Lounge.
Hair Icon, Instagram Sensation, the Woman We Love to Love
Hollywood newcomer and star of the new BET series Twenties Jonica T. Gibbs describes the Sundance Film Festival best: “It kind of feels like they just lifted everybody out of L.A. and put them in Utah, and now we are all surrounded by snow.” Park City, a quaint mountain town tucked into the beautiful Wasatch Range of Utah, is a year-round playground for recreational types. But every year, for one week in January, it is transformed into an entertainment mecca as the city plays host to the largest independent film festival in the world, known to most simply as Sundance. For movie buffs, it’s art filmmaking at its finest. For major Hollywood studios, it’s an opportunity to fill up their slates with buzzy titles and award season hopefuls. For casual festivalgoers, it’s the
For actress Kayla Ewell, Sundance is a constant reminder of why she became an actress in the first place. “There are so many artists and creative types. … It reinspires me and is such a great way to start off the year,” she says of the annual fest.
On the Sundance films on her radar: “One of the movies I’m most excited to see I actually just came from. I just saw Dark Horse with Toni
Lena has taught me if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. When the opportunity arises, you should be able to take the shot and make it.”
On relating to her character, Hattie: “Hattie definitely represents a chapter in my life, so I had plenty of personal experience to pull from relating to this character. Hattie sleeps on her best friend Marie’s couch and lives with Marie and her boyfriend, and I did the same thing when I moved to L.A. I have been broke, I have been there trying to figure it out, trying to get a job, trying to maneuver into the industry. Hattie is pretty synonymous with my 20s.”
With the ability to be both utterly charming and terrifying all at once, Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbæk is perfectly cast as chilling antagonist Ethan opposite Balinska in Run Sweetheart Run.
On building trust with director Shana Feste: “For me, it’s all about chemistry, and the chemistry we had was instant. And then I met Ella. What [she] put us through, you have to have 1000% in all of us. It has to go both ways because it’s a very disturbing and a very good film.”
difficult because as an actress, that wasn’t considered beautiful or attractive; it wasn’t up to standards, so I had to try and figure out how to look. I got a wave at one point and struggled with it. I tried to dye my hair, and it fell out, so I relate to this film. It’s difficult sometimes trying to discover who you are when everyone else is trying to tell you how you are supposed to be.”
On her Sundance fangirl moment: “I’m really excited to meet Zazie [Beetz]. We are doing a panel together on Tuesday, and inside I’m like ahh! I’m going to play it cool, don’t get me wrong. I just think she is an incredible actress and an incredible woman and stands on her own two feet. I think she defines her own beauty, and she wears her hair natural and is a huge advocate of that, and so many people of color are able to look up to her for that.”
Longtime BFFs and collaborators Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) and Carrie Brownstein have been cooking up meta documentary The Nowhere Inn—a project they co-wrote, co-produced, and co-scored—since 2017. “The idea came from me being on tour in 2017 and wanting to make some kind of a concert film and wanting my best friend Carrie Brownstein to be involved in that because she is brilliant and a great writer,” Clark tells us. “Initially, it was just going to be some sketches in between concert footage, and then it blossomed into a very strange, totally scripted film.”
Brownstein on the references for The Nowhere Inn: “I think in terms of character references for this film, we were thinking a lot about Nicolas Roeg movies [and] Peter Greenaway and those sort of films where there is descent into madness, like Performance with Mick Jagger, where you kind of take something at face value, and they are a reliable narrator, and slowly they unravel. So our reference points were people sort of right on the edge of sanity and where truth starts to corrode.”
Of the 39 films being showcased at Sundance, Summertime felt like a particularly refreshing offering for festivalgoers. The film, shot by Carlos López Estrada, takes place in Los Angeles over the course of one summer day in 2019, interweaving the stories of 25 youth poets, all of whom wrote and performed their own work in the film. The spoken-word showcase will have you feeling all the feels while leaving you with a new appreciation for the English language.
Babers on the organization Get Lit: “Get Lit is a youth poetry organization that goes around California and the country and teaches poetry to students in schools to inspire them to read and write and have a newfound love for the English language. We show them that poetry can be from anyone. It doesn’t just have to be a 300-year-old white guy who is not around, it comes from anyone, and you can connect with stories from 50 years ago or yesterday.”
premise is turn your phones off because there aren’t any phones in the movie the whole time, which feels great and looks great.”
On revisiting her love of Bollywood: “I’ve recently gotten into the Indian-made series Made in Heaven, which is very fun. There was a time in my life when I was exposed to a lot of Bollywood and Indian films as a kid, and then I went the other way, and now I’m back, and I’m kind of obsessed with Indian actors right now.”
We filmed it in the Sahara Desert, and I’m really proud of it and excited to release it to the world. I hope it inspires people to lean in and make a difference.”
On practicing a greener lifestyle: “I recently founded a nonprofit called Plastic Free Fridays, and the idea is simple: We want to encourage everyone to become activists themselves by going one day a week without single-use plastics. It’s a really beautiful community and teaches you how to live a greener lifestyle.”
When we look back at Carey Mulligan’s career, a lengthy list of spectacular wide-ranging performances, her turn in Promising Young Woman is sure to be a stand-out. Mulligan’s captivating work in the film as Cassandra Thomas is visceral, gritty, and slightly demented, and we are very much here for it.
On tapping into the mindset of Cassie: “I think when I read the script, I felt like I had never read a character like Cassie, so part of the appeal of doing it was trying to begin to figure her out. But it was largely through
The Row dress; Proenza Schouler Moto Ornament Mules ($852)
Wool Crop Top
former editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar; and Vogue’s Grace Coddington, eventually getting into modeling herself when she was a teenager. In 1991, she walked in Thierry Mugler’s spring show alongside her mom. The following year, she was invited back to walk alone.
Modeling helped Ross gain confidence to experiment and figure out who she was as a young woman. “I didn’t want people to see the truth of who I was because I felt like it wasn’t worthy of being out in the light of day,” Ross says, explaining that she was shy when she was younger. “My shyness manifested in a really big personality, which, if you think about it, is the same as being so quiet that you hope to be invisible.”
generally speaking, there is still regrettably a dearth of great stuff for women to do. So yeah, I think that’s what it is.”
On what she hopes audiences take away from her film: “I hope that they had a really fun time watching the movie, that they have been on an enjoyable ride of some kind, but that they want to have a real conversation about it and argue about it. And not just argue because it’s contentious or provocative, but I think that honestly there are so many points of view in this movie. Not all of them are right or wrong; they are very kind of like multifaceted. You want every single person who sees it to feel slightly different about what they are seeing or interpret it differently. Yeah, that’s what you hope for.”
Fresh off a well-deserved win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel took home the award for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series), Rachel Brosnahan took the Sundance Film Festival by storm, earning IMDb’s Fan Favorite Starmeter Award and accolades for her performance in Ironbark. The film, which is based on real events, is a Cold War drama that finds an unlikely partnership between a British civilian and a KGB official who bring about the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. “The script is just so well crafted,” Brosnahan shares about the film. “Every great story begins with an amazing script, and I didn’t know when I read the script for the first time that it was based on a true story, and now I can’t believe I didn’t learn more about this story in school when we learned about the Cold War. It’s incredible, and it’s a great example of how anybody can become an unlikely hero.”
do it, but I got blamed for it. I think it’s the only time I got spanked, but it was really the ghost of Duffy.”
On the stylish women who inspire her: “I feel like I want to be Isabella Rossellini, and I end up Britney Spears, inspiration versus reality. I always love what Zoe Kazan wears. She always looks so much herself and is playful and not afraid to take risks. I think Lucy Boynton, her makeup is just insane. I love looking at all of her looks, and I think she has inspired a lot of people to be more creative with their makeup. Tessa Thompson always looks incredible, and again, I like people who wear a little weird, and she doesn’t seem afraid to take risks.”
I was one of the lone rangers in terms of entertainment who was out there wearing their hair [natural].
Her journey to accepting and learning to properly care for her own hair inspired her to branch out into the beauty industry with her own line of haircare products, Pattern. “I, like many women in the 3b to 4c community, have learned to be our own best experts because the industry did not have products that existed to support us. So we were left to our own devices, to the rituals passed down through generations and through the community with each other, to cocktail our own products and make our own things in our own bathroom,” she says of the inspiration behind the launch.
In September, Ross announced Pattern with a bold visual. In a photo that garnered half a million views on Instagram, Ross is naked, her legs and arms strategically positioned as she looks into the camera with a reserved smile. The words “Sometimes, it’s just all about the hair,” encircle the actress’s perfectly tousled curls.
I have faith in the
process of dreaming big,
seeing it clearly, and
making it happen.
On the men who are killing it with their style right now: “This isn’t a style that I would rock, but just because I don’t think I have the pizzazz, and just me saying pizzazz shows that I don’t have it, but I would say a lot of guys in the NBA [are killing it] right now because the NBA and fashion are sort of merging. Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets is really popping off. And then another guy who is really flossing right now is Tyler Herro. He plays for the Miami Heat and is from Wisconsin, and I’m from Wisconsin, and people are kind of clowning on him because his shit’s really gaudy.”
“Larry said we aren’t allowed to talk about it,” Aubrey Plaza replies when we ask for details about her film Black Bear. That’s the thing about a spoiler movie like Black Bear: You really have to go in knowing nothing to get the full experience, and trust us, you want the full experience in this case. So here’s what we can say: The film is a twisty mindfuck getting fantastic reviews.
On her Black Bear character, Allison: “I would describe Allison as smart, curious, and ruined.”
“I don’t think you can have perfection around this because everybody’s experience is different. And so the goal is not to satisfy everyone. The goal is to start the conversation, have the conversation, and also to make people laugh.”
The day after our call, Ross celebrated her birthday by posting a “47-year-old thirst trap” sans filter or retouch. The caption, in true Ross fashion, reflects many of the ideals we’d discussed the night before. “I’ve worked so hard to feel good in my skin and to build a life that truly matches me and I’m in it and it feels good. I remain curious and teachable and so it will all keep getting better,” she writes in the caption. “Boom!”
obviously an incredible actor and SAG minimum—no, but it was truly amazing. I’ve always had a secret little dream in the back of my head that maybe I’ll get to work with a great actor one day, and I’m still holding out—no, I felt so, so lucky. Everything attracted me to it.”
On the person he most wants to meet at Sundance: “I’ll take Glenn Close. I thought The Wife was incredible.”
Zola came around, I was ready to stop apologizing for my space and for who I am. To be Zola is to be completely unapologetic, and that was really liberating for me, just saying fuck it and owning who I am and owning my space and being a young black woman who is getting it.”
On her fashion inspirations: “Christine Centenera is my fashion icon, and she actually designed this jacket I’m wearing. It’s called Wardrobe.NYC. I also love a lot of ’60s and ’70s icons like Brigitte Bardot and Dorothy Dandridge. I’m also really fascinated with men’s style. I think it’s really cool that Joaquin Phoenix is just going to wear the same suit all award season and is being intentional about being sustainable.”
On the person she most wanted to meet at Sundance: “I wanted to meet Glenn Close, and Aubrey is her good friend now, and she didn’t even introduce me when Glenn hugged [her]. I was so pissed about that.”
On her 2020 obsession: “I’m obsessing over [the Netflix docuseries] Cheer. It’s so good. I love it.”
Following season two of Netflix’s Glow, Sunita Mani is back on the big screen in 2020 and making us laugh out loud again with Save Yourselves!, a romantic comedy for the new generation. “My character is somewhat tall, very thoughtful and precise, and a bit world-weary,” she tells us of playing Su opposite funny guy John Reynolds.
On the appeal of watching Save Yourselves!: “It is a very modern relationship film, but it’s a classic-looking movie. It’s brilliant that the
Off the heels of her big-screen debut in last year’s Charlie’s Angels, Ella Balinska’s sophomore film, Run Sweetheart Run, is a promising thrill ride for horror enthusiasts. Based on events that happened to writer/director Shana Feste, the film features Balinska as a single mother in the fight of her life after a promising blind date goes very, very wrong.
On the fashion at Sundance: “I’ve seen so many interesting snow outfits. I mean, I’m wearing shorts, so who I am to say something right now? But you
Pyer Moss top and pants; Jennifer Fisher Lilly Hoops ($425) in Silver Rhodium Plated Brass
conversations with Emerald [Fennell]. It was an ongoing chat from the first time we met until we were on set and then the whole way through the film. I don’t think we ever stopped asking questions about her and trying to figure her out.”
On her 2020 motto: “This is what I draw on the mirror when I’m doing a play: ‘These are our days, walk them, fear nothing.’ That is my pretentious theater motto.”
Aisling Camps Waterfall Dress ($850); Loewe Satin Wide-Leg Trousers ($450); Jennifer Fisher Globe Ring ($325) in Plated Silver Rhodium; Odette ring; Brother Vellies shoes
The premise of Run Sweetheart Run is so dang frightening it’s hard to imagine similar events actually happened to writer/director Shana Feste. “I think Run Sweetheart Run is everyone’s real-life horror film come true,” the filmmaker tells us. “I went on a date with this guy who looked amazing on paper, and I was so excited. … Everything was going great, so we went back to his place, and that’s where it started to not be so great, and I actually had to escape. I didn’t have a cell phone, I didn’t have my purse, I wasn’t wearing shoes, and I ran home from Hollywood Hills to West Los Angeles.”
On casting Asbæk and Balinska: “I cast Pilou because I was terrified by him on Game of Thrones. I’ve probably looked up only five or six actors in my life, like when I’m watching something they are doing and press pause to go to IMDb and look them up, and Pilou was one of those actors. I was
A few years before she started modeling, Ross was living in Europe as a ninth grader when she decided to stop applying relaxers to her hair. She remembers the phase fondly, laughing at the process of watching curls spring from her scalp over time as her ends remained straight, a lingering reminder of the years she spent chemically forcing her hair to reject its natural state. “I mean, there are photos; it’s intense,” she says. “But there was so much pride in the new growth. The fluffier it got, the more I felt like I was on the right road. It was fascinating.”
By the time she appeared on Girlfriends in 2000, Ross had learned to embrace her curls, even when others didn’t approve. “I remember going
to the Essence Music Festival [in the early 2000s], and a woman pulled me aside to say, ‘Girl, you’re on TV. Why don’t you put heat on your hair?’
Gayle Rankin, who you may recognize from her stellar performance in the Netflix series Glow, is no stranger to the short format (her résumé includes six short film credits to date), so it’s no surprise she was drawn to a project like The Climb. The film, which originally premiered at Sundance in 2018 in the shorts category and went on to win the Coupe de Coeur prize at Cannes last year, is back at the festival with a feature-length retelling. “I was really jazzed when I saw the short,” Rankin tells us of the comedy about a long-standing and complicated male friendship. “These are serious filmmakers, and I was really excited to get in there and be the female component of that.”
On the appeal of The Climb: “I thought [the short film] was really inventive. The guys, Kyle [Marvin] and Michael [Angelo Covino], who made the short really pushed the boundaries in terms of the endurance it took to make something like that. It’s all one shot; they acted, produced, wrote,
On a blind-date experience gone bad: “I was on a blind date in Copenhagen like 20 years ago. My brother set me up with this model, and she was very neurotic and very strange. Nevertheless, we ended up going back to her place and were just about to have a good night, and she turned to me and said, I have a terrible headache. And so, I was like, no action? And she was like, yeah, there’s no action tonight. And I was like okay, that’s good. And like 10 to 15 years later, I’m at a dinner party, and we’re discussing excuses for getting out of bad situations and this girl at the dinner party says, ‘You know when you don’t want to go to bed with someone, and you say you have a headache? It’s the best excuse in the world.’ And I had thought for 15 years she actually had a headache! So that was a very interesting date.”
Nobody writes femme fatales like Emerald Fennell. Previously a showrunner for the award-winning series Killing Eve, Fennell is the mastermind behind Focus Features’ revenge thriller Promising Young Woman, a film that sits perfectly on this side of the #MeToo movement. After a traumatic sexual assault experience leaves the film’s heroine, Cassandra Thomas, depeleted, she seeks retribution by pretending to be drunk at nightclubs and trolling could-be predator.
On writing female stories that resonate with audiences: “I think people are just looking to see female characters do more than just answer a phone or look sexy in a bikini, so really, whether it’s an amazing assassin or a young woman who is trying to rectify something in her past, I think
It’s a good thing writer/director Justin Simien cast Elle Lorraine in his film Bad Hair. Otherwise, Lorraine says she might have stalked him because she’s a huge fan. “I think Justin is such an incredible filmmaker and relates to people because he tells real human stories,” Lorraine tells us about the appeal of Simien’s storytelling. (He also wrote and directed Dear White People, which was a 2014 Sundance Special Jury award winner.) To no surprise, large crowds gathered for Simien’s latest offering, a supernatural thriller following aspiring VJ Anna (Lorraine) in 1989 Los Angeles. When Anna is forced to get a weave in order to land her dream job, the consequences are more than she bargained for.
On her own natural-hair journey: “I’m from Texas originally, and back in the day when I was growing up, we all had to have straight hair. It’s how we were accepted and what was considered beautiful, and then at some point, I decided to cut off all of my own hair and go natural. That was
Collette. It was so fabulous. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. And Zola, everyone who has seen the movie says it’s phenomenal.”
On her fashion inspiration: “Who do I really think is on point with fashion? Definitely Meghan Markle. I can get into the whole Megxit thing, but that is a whole other interview.”
Clark on collaborating with Brownstein: “What I like about collaborating with Carrie is that she is totally brilliant, and she has so many ideas. I see it in her playing as a guitar player, just idea after idea. It’s astounding. She just has a great ability to riff on any idea and make it real and flesh it out. As an artist, she has a point of view, and that’s the best thing you can say about an artist, that they really have a voice and a point of view.”
Brownstein on collaborating with Clark: “What I like about working with Annie is that she is brilliant. She is innovative and inventive. She is an extremely hard worker. When she does something, she does it with a lot of intensity and passion, and I find that very inspiring. I think she is good at both pushing herself and pushing people around her to do their best work. And she also is just great at allowing me to be myself, and that’s really important, and to have a certain amount of vulnerability and porousness. And Annie too has a strong point of view, which I think is crucial.”
Mayor on the most rewarding part of this project: “I’m an actor, and I’ve done a few small things in the past, and it was the first time I’ve ever been able to bring my love of poetry and my love of acting together for such a large project. That to me was really exciting. Just being a part of something so special in itself was rewarding for me.”
Cuda on seeing the completed film for the first time: “I held the script so many times, but I hadn’t actually been able to see it visualized, and so I think being in the audience with all of my closest friends and seeing those friends on stage being so brilliant and amazing, and I already knew they were brilliant and amazing, but to see them be so dynamic and electric on a big screen just felt like the ultimate payoff, and I’m still jazzed about it.”
Professional skier and activist Sierra Quitiquit is a Park City local dead set on spreading awareness of the global climate crisis. Her film, Melted, which she wrote, directed, and produced, paints a picture of what our world will look like if we don’t start practicing a more sustainable lifestyle now. Using the power of social media and filmmaking, Quitiquit hopes to inspire urgent action from others.
On her Sundance project: “I’m a professional skier, and my world has been very affected by climate change, so [my film] Melted is an imagination of the future of the world if we do nothing about the global climate crisis.
Plucked from the L.A. stand-up scene by Hollywood powerhouse Lena Waithe, Jonica “JoJo” T. Gibbs is, in my opinion, this year’s breakout star. Gibbs touched down at Sundance to premiere the first two episodes of her new show, Twenties, which follows three young women navigating career, love, and life issues. Gibbs is the series’s lead, Hattie, an inspiring writer based on Waithe’s own experiences. “It’s very relatable, and it’s very fun, and I think everybody is going to be able to find something that they can attach to in the show,” Gibbs says of the series premiering March 4 on BET.
On working with Lena Waithe: “Lena very much felt like a coach in this situation. I learned to come to set prepared to do your job and to do it well and to take advantage of any opportunity given to you. From the get-go,
WRITTEN BY JESSICA BAKER