Rowan Blanchard on Using Her Fame For Good

Rowan Blanchard
Rowan Blanchard

Rowan Blanchard on Using Her Fame For Good

An actress and activist in equal measures, Rowan Blanchard is a force to be reckoned with: here, Jack Sunnucks speaks to her about how to get by in the world today

Rowan Blanchard, AnOther Magazine S/S17Photography by Ben Toms, Styling by Robbie Spencer

In celebration of the new generation of actresses determined to leverage their fame for the greater good, Ben Toms and Robbie Spencer’s fashion story, published in AnOther Magazine S/S17, featured young women from Rowan Blanchard to India Menuez; Sophie Kennedy Clark to Maddie Ziegler. Writer Jack Sunnucks spoke to each of these women on set, for a series of interviews running over two weeks exclusively on anothermag.com.

Rowan Blanchard, 15, was known for the Disney series Girl Meets World before her sage, lively activism gained her a huge online following and made her a magazine fixture. She now has close to five million followers who hang off her every post, whether it’s about Angela Davis or attending her first Chanel show. A recent much-liked Instagram simply read, “Women will always have abortions they will either be safe + legal or unsafe + illegal.” Blanchard has also started filming an adaptation of the fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Directed by Ava DuVernay of the much lauded Selma, the film also stars Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey.

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Rowan Blanchard
Rowan Blanchard, AnOther S/S17Photography by Ben Toms, Styling by Robbie Spencer

Jack Sunnucks: Who’s your hero?
Rowan Blanchard:
Oh gosh. Obviously my Mum, but I guess if there’s a person, Jenny Holzer. And all of her artwork. Her entire body of work, and her way of predicting things before they happened. Especially with this election, I was looking for some kind of solace and resolve in her art. She’s definitely my hero right now.

JS: What would you say to give solace to someone your age who perhaps doesn’t live in LA?
RB: Don’t think that you haven’t been surviving up until now. Don’t be tricked into thinking that suddenly Trump’s elected and “Oh no I have to survive this hellish world”. You’ve been surviving this world that is not created for you already. You’re already a survivor.

“You’ve been surviving this world that is not created for you already. So you’re already a survivor” – Rowan Blanchard

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Rowan Blanchard
Rowan Blanchard, AnOther S/S17Photography by Ben Toms, Styling by Robbie Spencer

JS: What’s a small thing people can do to help each other out?
RB: I think we have to be our own safe spaces and make ourselves safe spaces for other people. It’s good to talk about things on social media, but it’s better to do it in real life. If you’re posting about someone on social media and saying “I accept you”, make sure you’re practicing that. I think it’s just being nice and knowing that some people are targeted more than others. It’s not being PC, it’s being a good person.

JS: What gives you hope for next year and beyond?
RB: I feel like 2017 is going to be the year of unionising, unity, getting together and talking about things.

JS: How did it feel to come on board with A Wrinkle in Time?
RB: It was wonderful. The really special thing about working on A Wrinkle in Time is that you know that the project is changing the world as it’s happening. So that’s really inspiring to be a part of. I feel really lucky because I got to be there on the first day too, and to be able to witness this entire crew on the brink of something major was incredible.

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Rowan Blanchard
Rowan Blanchard, AnOther S/S17Photography by Ben Toms, Styling by Robbie Spencer

JS: What’s it like working with Ava?
RB: Ava is a dream director. She’s so hands on, but not in a way that feels like you’re being told what to do. She’s just so smart and articulate, and it’s really nice for me going to a set where, at the end of the day, the person who’s making the choices is a woman. I think a lot of male directors feel a need to conform to this thing of the ‘male director’, screaming and being angry and using their power. And it's different with the female directors I’ve worked with; because there hasn’t been room to scream without being called really horrible things, they have such a different approach - based on talking to each other rather than power. It’s amazing how much power she has over the set, and the people working on it, without screaming or yelling.

JS: Do you think fashion can make women feel heroic?
RB: Being a young woman, you’re so used to your image being sexualised, and what you’re wearing being thrown against you… I feel like now I’m looking for things that are strange looking and billow-y, and in that way fashion is such a tool because you’re able to do so much with it. People don’t realise that, that fashion is such a tool for creating how you want to be looked at.

Hair Marki Shkreli for Marki Hair Care; Make-up Samuel Paul at Forward Artists for Marc Jacobs Beauty; Set design Bryn Bowen at Streeters; Photographic assistants Vincent Perini, Geordy Pearson and Kaleb Marshall; Styling assistants Louise Ford, Johanna Burmester-Andersson, Bonnie Macleod and Sabrina Teerlink; Hair assistant Kelly Oliphant.

These photographs originally appeared in AnOther Magazine S/S17.