Ry Russo-Young, Filmmaker


"I prefer people who aren’t afraid of looking bad. That’s way more interesting than someone who always looks perfect, because it's closer to real life. Even though my movies, like [2009 Sundance selection] You Won't Miss Me and now Nobody Walks [starring Olivia Thirlby and John Krasinski, co-written by Lena Dunham], might be stylized in some way, I still want them to feel real. And it would take me out as a viewer if I watched a movie and a girl was crying and she was obviously wearing mascara and it wasn’t running. I guess it depends. I have watched movies, sometimes studio films, and I’ll be like, 'That girl looks so crazy-perfect in every scene,' and it just makes me feel like the whole thing is really fake. I think there’s a way to look 'good-bad.' I think mascara is awesome, like mascara running down your face can be so hot. And if you think of someone like Charlotte Rampling in The Night Porter—she looks so hot, and it’s because she’s wearing leather and she’s going outside of how you think of that character and her comfort zone. And even Natalie Portman in The Professional is this little girl who is really tough and wearing mini skirts. Often the things that I think surprise us are contradictions. And that triggers the heat, in both me and other people I work with.

In terms of my own look, my hair has never changed that much. Growing up, I had a helmet haircut that my moms gave me. It was really...just...demoralizing. It was a bowl cut! Mine looked like a blunt object, it was such a clean bowl. It was, like, a joke. [Laughs] But who you are then has a big effect on you now. Once I discovered that I liked my hair long, I’ve kept it that way consistently.  I like my hair long; it’s part of who I am.

For products, I’m a really big moisturizer. I have dry skin naturally, so I’m kind of a constant replenisher; I'll moisturize like three times a day. If I’m out all day, then just once in the morning and once at night…if I have to. But if a moisturizer is nearby, or if I’m at somebody else’s house and they have moisturizer that I try and I like, then I’ll use some theirs. [Laughs] But only if it’s certain kinds. I love La Roche-Posay. I use their Nutritic Transforming Care for Very Dry Skin for my face and then I just got one for the body: the Lipikar Lipid-Replenishing Body Milk. It’s thick, but I like it because I feel like it really hydrates my skin, as opposed to other lotions. To be completely honest, I haven’t found anything else. I like the way it smells, I like the way it feels. There’s not much of a fragrance to it, either. It feels like it’s for a baby…and I kind of feel like a baby. [Laughs] I feel like my skin wants to feel like a hydrated baby. I also like Dr. Hauschka oils—if I’m going to do a scented body moisturizer, it’s that. If I’m going to do an oil, sometimes I’ll use Dr. Hauschka Rosemary Leg and Arm Toner.  I don’t even really put it on my legs or arms. It's kind of spa-like, and a little health food store-y. I use Dermalogica to wash my face, the Daily Microfoliant powder. I use that, but only twice a week or something. And then usually I use Bliss Clog Dissolving Cleansing Milk.

Makeup-wise, I’ll do mascara...maybe a little eye shadow. Sometimes in the morning, I wear Fresh Sugar Lip Gloss in Sugar Cherry on my lips. That, sometimes combined with lipstick, like MAC Cremesheen in this pretty rose color, Speak Louder, starts the day out right. I’ve also been wearing Clark's Botanicals Ultra Rich Lip Tint in Rachel Red. I don’t know who Rachel is. [Laughs] It’s a little messy to apply, but I like a hit of color on my lips. I have such a small mouth that I feel like it works. And for mascara, I love MAC Haute & Naughty Lash. It’s so good. I use the thicker, 'naughty' end only when I’m going out at night and only on my top lashes. And then normally, when I’m going out in the day, I’ll just use the smaller 'haute' end. It makes my eyelashes big without looking slutty. I have really long lashes and really huge eyes, so if I do it too much, I start to look, like, freakish. And I don’t like to look freaky—I like to look classy. That’s what I’m going for. [Laughs] So I can’t wear too much makeup—I think I have a really expressive, character-y face, so I try to go light and natural, and just work with what I have and not accentuate anything. I’ll use Clinique Polar Blue Color Surge Eye Shadow Quad. I tend to dig into the white/cream color to lighten things up, but I did go through a blue phase… I kind of go through phases. I’m over blue, and now I’m doing a bit of MAC Patina Eye Shadow, too.

I have the Chanel Mat Lumière foundation, which I wear just on my face—not everyday, but some days…certainly if I’m going out. And not my whole face, just under my eyes, in the areas I need it. But I don’t like the way that foundation reacts with my skin... I still feel like I haven’t found the one. I have a tinted moisturizer by Stila, but I feel like that doesn’t have any coverage; it’s a fine line between coverage and not drying. I’ve been pretty happy with the Chanel one, but I don’t think it’s “it” for me. I’m still on the hunt for the right one. Foundation's the least fun new makeup to buy.

But, I like shopping for makeup. It’s fun. Although, I’m lazy about it—I never go makeup shopping deliberately. I think it’s because my parents don’t wear any makeup. So, me wearing any makeup at all, it was kind of already different; I never really knew what I was doing. It’s been a very self-educated process, with literally my friends putting makeup on me. I am interested in learning more—or at least having a set routine—because I feel like it’s part of being a real woman. I think I’m still evolving into being a woman, like, a full-on woman. And part of that would be having a really nice makeup routine. For example, when I discovered the facial moisturizer that I use, the La Roche-Posay, it just made me feel really in control—like I had my shit figured out."

—as told to ITG

Ry Russo-Young (whose film, Nobody Walks, opens in select cities on October 19th) photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on October 9th, 2012. 

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  • Stephanie

    Great interview!

    Would love love love to see Caroline Polachek on ITG. She is so great.

    • Cay

      Oh, wow. I would DIE if they got Caroline.

  • Dahlia Hage

    I love her description of how she prefers "real people" in films. Loved this interview. I would love to know more about how she became a filmmaker and how she made her decisions. I'll look it up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.morabito Sarah Corsello Morabito

    There are so many awesome moments in the post..."good-bad" and the "clean bowl" haircut. I mean, I had that and it was so bad and so clean. I love the honesty. She's a great one. Thanks ITG.

  • http://dipitblack.com/ dipitblack

    Great interview!
    And lovely picture!
    Love this post!


  • http://stylesaint.com/ Saint Allison

    I so adore this interview!


  • kate

    "For example, when I discovered the facial moisturizer that I use, the La Roche-Posay, it just made me feel really in control—like I had my shit figured out."

    Yes, yes, yes! It's amazing how the little breakthroughs can be so confidence-inspiring. I was particularly excited about this sentence because it's exactly how I felt when I discovered La Roche-Posay. They totally sorted out my super sensitive rosacea skin. I'm always excited to see their products on here...which is often! (Don't work for them, just love them!)

  • zuzu

    Does anyone know who made her bedding?