'I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. I am an actor, a writer, a filmmaker, sort of a Jack of all trades. A Jill of all trades. I started out when I was 13. I was really obsessed with photography and interested in filmmaking so I went to a modeling school because I heard that, if you went to modeling school you would meet people from big cities. Then, in the early ‘90s, I met one of New York’s biggest modeling agents…and the rest was history!
When I was 14, my mom and I moved to New York for the summer—we didn’t know what we were doing but the agents were like, 'She needs to come to New York and she needs to start test shooting.' I immediately started working for Vogue and Bazaar, it all hit right off the bat. My first story was with Steven Klein for like the first issue of Visionaire. I felt like a baby…I remember on one shoot, they ordered sushi and I went to the bathroom and threw it all up because I wasn’t used to any food that wasn’t just meat and potatoes. At home, Chinese food from the mall was as exotic as we got.
I worked with just about everyone really early on…Nan, Herb Ritts, Peter Lindbergh, Richard Avedon. I miss all that, always shooting on film—now there’s monitors on set, everybody can see everything instantly. I really miss the mystery of like, that one magic moment. There is something very intimate about shooting on film, it’s just between you and the photographer. Now, everything is like 'Oh, we’ll fix it in post!' I fucking hate those words. I just want to be like, 'Why don’t you fix it now and get it right?!' Avedon would only shoot 10 pictures. He would have an 8x10 and you would stand there, pose, he would shoot. It was different.
When I started acting, people thought I was insane because I was at the top of my modeling career, had a ton of contracts and campaigns. But I literally just quit. I had to study really hard for acting, and I worked with the best teachers. I did Blow with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz and then Pearl Harbor. Around then is when it started to trend for Michael Bay to cast models as his leads . But, at that time, I didn’t even know who Michael Bay was!
I’ve always been obsessed with fashion, I think that came from having to shop at Goodwill and learning how to make something look cool with no money. And my mother was a seamstress so she’d make a lot of my clothes. I always had a very sort of eclectic sense of style and, when I was a kid, people made fun of me for it but, as I became an adult, I became sort of heralded for that. And I was lucky, I got to work very closely with people like Karl Lagerfeld and Alexander McQueen—those people showed me the difference between an inch here, a millimeter there. And they taught me manners! Alexander McQueen was the one that taught me how to properly drink tea. In the Midwest, we didn’t really drink tea, but he was the one who told me how to put the milk in! I knew of like, Lipton tea but I didn’t know that you put milk in regular tea!
I remember, at one point, my agents told me that I had to not dress the way that I normally dress because I was coming off as too sophisticated and avant-garde. I was like, ‘What the fuck does that mean? I’m wearing a Louis Vuitton blazer and skirt. I look like Grace Kelly. If you go to an audition you should look like a movie star. And I’m not going to go into my auditions wearing flip-flops and ripped jeans. I’m not going to do it.’ I think it’s very important how you carry yourself and how you present yourself because it shows people that you care. And when you’re sloppy and act like you don’t care people feel that energy. And they feel like that you didn’t take the time for them.
My approach to skincare is to always wash your face before bed, even if you don’t want to. Don’t be lazy. I don’t care how tired you are or how long your day has been. I don’t care what you’ve consumed that evening—just do it. I use Essential Herbology, which is like a salve. I love salves because they can remove eye makeup without you having to rub your eyes very hard. I also love the Koh Gen Do Cleansing Water for my eye makeup remover. Literally it’s just two swipes and then off.
I always exfoliate three or four times a week—I love Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate and La Prairie Cellular Hydralift Firming Mask that you put on for three minutes. Or you can make your own with sugar and olive oil…everything that’s expensive, you can basically make on your own.
For moisturizer, I obviously love La Mer Soft Cream. The old La Mer was so thick, but the Soft Cream is perfect for me because it’s super hydrating and I have really dry skin. It’s really luxurious and I love how it smells, but everybody’s skin is different and it’s so expensive…I really believe in using products on both ends of the spectrum. There’s also a really great cream by Alba Botanicals for your face that you can get at Whole Foods. That’s really fantastic. I also love the Oriental Plants Cream by Koh Gen Do and I love any of the La Prairie creams—my favorite is the Caviar Mask.
I love Le Labo Santal 26 and the body wash from Alba Botanicals that smells of rose. I buy a big ass tub of Tuberose bath and shower gel. Then, the best stuff ever is Jergen’s BB Body Perfecting Skin Cream. It’s the best in medium-deep skin tones and it smells so good. But I also love La Mer’s Reparative Body Lotion.
Naturally, my hair is a dirty blond but I love super blond hair, like white blond. But, because of the series I’ve been filming, I haven’t been able to go crazy. I don’t really do anything with my hair...I only wash it once a week. I love Oribe’s Signature Shampoo and Conditioner because it doesn’t feel like it’s weighing your hair down and then I don’t put much in it, but I also love Phytovolume Volumizing Shampoo. Then, if I need to freshen up, I use some Klorane Dry Shampoo. And I love their hair mask, too.
When it comes to beauty, I’ve learned so many things from so many people. I’m not into the whole dewy look—I always do highlighting and contouring that I learned from the amazing Wendy Rowe. I use a light Koh Gen Do Concealer down my nose, above my brows and under my eyes and then just spread it all the way out to my temples. Then, I put it on the bow of my lip, on my cheeks and under each nostril, and blend it all together. You look crazy when you first do it, like you’re wearing a mask! But it highlights certain areas and sculpts your natural features. I also love YSL Touche Éclat for the same thing but, if I really need to pull out the big guns, then I use Clé de Peau. It’s thicker and dryer, so I try not to use so much other than for spot corrections. Then, a product that works really well for the other side of the contour is Benefit’s Hoola or MAC’s Sculpting Palette in Bone Beige, or I love Tom Ford’s Shade & Illuminate, but I usually just use this cheap powder I got at the beauty store. The color is literally just called Brown! For foundations, I just mix them all together—I like to combine Laura Mercier with Chanel to make the perfect texture.
Then, Bobbi Brown and Chanel make really beautiful blushes that you can then you add on top. Like, on the apples of your cheeks and up to the base of your eyes…I like to sweep upwards with a shimmery kind of blush and Bobbi Brown Shimmer Bricks are great because you can also turn them into eye shadows. I love anything that you can use for multiple things—I’m all about the practicality of being able to use one product on your lips, your cheeks and your eyes. Nars Orgasm is still always a good one, and Butter London makes some of my favorite cream blushes right now—I love Abbey Rose Cheeky Cream Blush. And I also love NYX’s Highlight and Contour Powder. For lips, I love Burberry Lip Velvet in Military Red, MAC’s Matte Lipstick in Runner, Tom Ford Flameand Laura Mercier’s Rouge Sexy. Or Burberry’s Lip Cover in Tulip Pink is so pretty. And Dior makes the best gloss.
On my eyes, I always start with a pale colored base, like a creamy white or a shimmer, something like Burberry’s Sheer Eyeshadow in Pearl White. And RMS has a white Eye Polish that’s really great. I have a lot of Burberry stuff because Wendy Rowe designs the colors and she’s phenomenal. Urban Decay’s Naked Palette is another one of my favorites—the Naked 1 has every color that you could possibly need, and I think that’s really important that women just have something very easy that they can go to and have it all. I also love eye colors like Chanel’s Illusion D’Ombre in Emerveille, or the mauve or blue shade that they do, and Maybelline’s Eye Studio in Green With Envy. Plus, I still love Avon because, growing up in Omaha, if you had Avon then it was a really big deal. So I just got this awesome Eye Dream of Glam Ultimate Eye Shadow Palette that I ordered—I really like to do the blue around my eyes, like a whole '60s situation. Finally, I’m obsessed with Urban Decay 24-7 Liner Pencils because they stay, stay, stay. And my absolute favorite mascara is Kevyn Aucoin’s The Volume Mascara. It coats your lashes and then, when you apply water to remove it, it kind of peels off. It’s genius.”
—as told to ITG