Lola Bessis, Actress & Director


"I was born and raised in Paris, and lived in New York for a bit and London for a bit. I’m about to move to LA, which is exciting. I love LA—it’s the perfect balance with Paris, I think. I was pretty shy as a child, and I discovered acting because my teacher told my parents it could be good for me. I took one class at my school and I loved it so much. I told my parents, ‘This is what I want to do, I don’t want to do anything else.’ They were like, ‘No, you are going to suffer depending on what someone else desires.’ Then, when I was 12, I got street cast randomly to star in a short film, and that’s when I discovered there’s actually a world behind the camera. I got along with the people from the crew so well, and when I got home I told my parents, ‘I know what I’m going to do, I’ll direct my own movies so I can star in them.’ I mean, I didn’t say that, but that’s what I was thinking. [Laughs]

I just finished working on an Amazon miniseries called Picnic At Hanging Rock. It was a novel originally, and then a movie, and the show is a readaptation from the book. It’s funny, because when I got my first Skype meeting with the director, Larysa Kondracki, I was like, ‘Oh I love that movie so much!’ She was like, ‘I don’t give a shit, this is going to be completely different.’ [Laughs] I'm super proud to be a part of it—the lead characters are all female, and the crew was something like 60 percent female as well. They were all so talented, and there was no ego or competition. It felt so rare, especially because sometimes I feel like when I’m directing, I work only with men. It’s good to see that’s not always the case! [The show's costumes] were a good reminder of what women had to go through. We were in those Victorian corsets, and they're so tight, and take so long to tie—even if you have people to help you, it takes two or three hours every day. The minute you’re in a corset you know exactly what it feels like to try and fit in—literally.

In real life you probably want to look your best, but in films you don’t care because you’re not yourself, you’re the character. But in real life, I think the most important thing is to take care of your skin—makeup is pretty easy when you’ve prepared that way. When I wake up, I wash my face with a scrub from Bioderma called Sebium Exfoliating Gel. It’s light and you can use it every day. Then I use the Avène Thermal Water spray, and moisturize with Avène Hydrance. I have the light one and the rich one, but usually I use the light one. I also put some 8-Hour Cream from Elizabeth Arden on my lips. At night I use an eye cream, and I have plenty of them. I usually use either the Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream or Clarins Eye Gel. The skin around my eyes is super thin, so especially when I do a lot of photoshoots and wear a lot of makeup, it gets very red. The cream helps to calm it down. At night, I use Bioderma Créaline to take off my makeup, and then the Avène spray again. I also love to do masks once a week. I have a mask from the Dead Sea by Ahava, that I really like.

To me, the more natural makeup is, the better, but sometimes it takes more time to look natural! I like when skin looks a bit glossy, almost like sweat. I use BB cream from Maybelline on my cheeks and concealer from Laura Mercier. It has two colors in it—one is more pinkish, and the other is more yellow, and I mix both. I also like to brush my eyebrows to make them hold. I don’t really wear mascara during the day—my eyelashes are long, so I just curl them. At nighttime, I like to wear mascara on the ends. I always get my favorite one here when I’m in the states, Maybelline Great Lash. In terms of lipstick, I love a matte one from Nars called Red Square, but I’m a bit tired of it now because I’ve been wearing it for so long. I’m more into natural, nude colors now. My skin tends to look a bit yellowish when I’m tired, and I like to balance it with a Benefit pink pencil that you can put on your cheekbones and lips. I wear the strongest sunscreen ever—it’s from Switzerland, and it’s called Actinica Lotion. My family is from Italy and Tunisia, so I’m supposed to be able to get tan, but that never happens to me.

I wash my hair every day. My hair is very thin and if I don’t wash every day it will look flat. I shampoo with the OGX Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Shampoo, and rarely use conditioner. I have one from Aesop that I use once every couple of weeks—sometimes if it gets really dry when I do a lot of photoshoots, naturally, I'll need it. I just dry with a towel, and ideally I would go out right after washing it so it dries in the sun. I like the natural waves it makes, and I don’t really like brushing my hair. I use Mythic Hair Oil from L’Oréal, which has argan oil in it, and just put a little in my ends. I think the oil helps the waves happen. For my body, I use a lot of moisturizer. I like Mixa, which is a cream that moms use for babies. It’s very gentle and smells light and flowery—I don’t like fragrances that are too strong. I wore a fragrance from Prada for years called Iris Infusion, and I loved it, but I think they changed the formula. Instead, I spray a little bit of rosewater on my neck so I smell like rose."

—as told to ITG

Lola Bessis photographed by Tom Newton in New York on May 25, 2018.