Rowan Blanchard Loves Face Masks and Wants to Direct Really Weird Films
The actress, author, and new Bliss brand advocate shares her current favorite things.
Looking at her fashion- and politically-forward Instagram (with 5.2 million followers) and her long résumé in TV and film, it’s very easy to forget that Rowan Blanchard is only 16 years old. Until, that is, you’re sitting across from the actress and author in a suite at the Crosby Street Hotel, and she slumps down in her chair in a Staud babydoll dress to talk about friends, social media, late nights at her family house, college, and skin care. As a new brand advocate for Bliss, she has a beauty routine to keep her skin pretty while makeup-free (makeup makes her break out) and, from the looks of her smooth, dewy complexion, she knows what she’s doing.
On the other hand, however, she’ll casually serve you a few reasons to remind you exactly why she’s made a name for herself when she mentions catching retro ’70s films with friends, directing “non-linear” films, or her upcoming senior thesis about the prison system. Like any human, whether they starred in a Disney show and walked in Miu Miu or, in Blanchard’s case, both, the teen has many, many sides. Thanks to social media and her life in the limelight, we just happen to be privy to many of them. We asked Blanchard more about this below.
Have you ever had skin issues? Do you love taking care of your skin?
“I think I have teenage skin, so it’s not the best. I feel like my skin’s kind of up and down and all around. And kind of depending on the time of the month [laughs]. My skin’s OK. I do work hard on it. Actually, Jia Tolentino wrote about this in The New Yorker, about how getting obsessed with skin care during the Trump administration definitely says something. It’s just the one thing that you can control, and there’s something about the manipulation. That just feels in your control.”
What’s your routine like?
“I use the Bliss cleanser, and I have this exfoliator I use. I try to exfoliate my skin two to three times a week. Sometimes I use that Aztec clay; I steal it from my sister. I use a mask from Bliss, too—the marshmallow one. It makes your skin really fresh-looking. So I like to do it in the morning. I try not to wear makeup because I do break out.”
What about sunscreen?
“Sunscreen I really forget. I really forget sunscreen. That’s probably the biggest thing I definitely need to work on.”
Would you say that you’re more of a morning person or more of a night person?
“I’m more of a night person. Mornings I love to sleep through. I really do! I hit 16 and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is the time to sleep!’ All the time. I’m tired. At night, I can stay up late, ’cause it’s like, ‘I’m a teenager!’ But I much prefer sleeping. At night I usually hang out with my friends and we’ll go see a movie or something. Last night I went to go see [the 1970 film] Wanda at the Metrograph [theater] at eleven-fifteen, so until a really late time. It was kind of spur-of-the-moment. We were just hanging out at my friend’s apartment and we all decided to walk over there. Things like that; I like to keep it more low-key. I like to read at night. I think there’s something really nice about reading when people are asleep, or at least, I still live with my family, so it’s nice to read when my family’s asleep.”
How do you shop? Do you like to go to shop at malls? Vintage shops?
“Essentially all of the money that I spend [is spent] on clothes. [And] all of the money that I actually spend on clothes is usually vintage. I just feel like I would much rather invest in vintage clothing. It’s cool and it’s also like, there’s something so comforting about vintage clothes, the idea that multiple women have worn this before me.”
Tell us more about that:
“That was something that I was attracted to so young about clothes, especially in vintage clothing. Like, weirdly, in the second grade, for my birthday, I asked for like, fifties clothing. I asked for a poodle skirt, and I was very specific in that there was something very attractive to me about like, the timelessness and the idea that something can’t ever go out of style at all. Even at that age, I had a cognizance that there was something about vintage clothing that felt mature, but also you feel a bit more elegant or pronounced, or something. I have a couple of things that I really, really love. In December, I bought a vintage Gaultier dress. It’s very Baz Luhrmann, Romeo and Juliet-ey with, like, crosses all over and hearts, and it’s really good. I bought a really beautiful corset that’s from the thirties. Yesterday I spent a lot of money at Cafe Forgot.”
Do you have dreams of where you want to go artistically? What compels you to work so hard?
“I guess I’ve just fallen into these strange circumstances where I sort of became ‘famous’ before I started exploring art. My public experience of figuring out what I like and what I want to be interested in, too, has just happened to be public and not totally intentionally. So I don’t know, I’ve sort of felt it out. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had really good advice from people around me who let me know that not everything needs to be shared and I can figure some things out, and also, just because I make one thing does not mean it’s my entire life. I had to keep reminding myself of that because I’ve definitely had experiences on the internet that were less than fulfilling. I think it’s been nice to remember that I’m only sixteen. If I want to stop now, I could, and I could still do something later.”
Where do you want to take acting from here?
“I guess the ultimate goal—and I was reminded by this by seeing Wanda last night, because it’s the only film made by Barbara Loden that she also starred in—is that I want to make movies. I want to direct. I’ve been acting since I was five, and I think I realized a few years ago that the way that I looked at things while I was acting was not through the lens of an actor, but it was through the lens of a director. I started realizing on sets, when I was 12 or 13, that I wanted to be looking at the entire set, rather than being in it.”
What kind of stories do you want to tell?
“I’ve sort of always loved films that were not, I guess, typical. Or they also don’t feel completely narrative. I want to just make really weird stuff. If you look throughout film history, it sort of stops at a certain point when films started to become—and there’s still those films today, rare and few—but there was a time in the sixties when nearly every film, except for maybe the mainstream ones, was incredibly weird and strange and had multiple layers and didn’t exactly follow a story line that was beginning, middle, end. All of my favorite movies are nonlinear—stuff that doesn’t really have a typical ending, or also doesn’t have to. I feel like films today are so much about resolving, and the movie ends. I would rather make something that trails.”
Why do you like that, do you think?
“I do think it’s more like real life, but it’s also just so interesting because it feels like in every other art form, things can be continuations of—but it just feels like film, as of recently, has been so much about tying up all ends and closing everything off. The stuff that I’ve been most attracted to, since forever, has always just been stuff that you walk out of there still thinking about the movie. I always thought that was the best part of seeing a movie, was when you left and you’re still thinking about it.”
You had your book come out this year, which is a huge undertaking. Do you have any other projects like that coming up that you’d love to do?
“I’m good with the book stuff for a little while! Oof! But in the next couple months, I’m starting my senior year, I’m writing a research paper on prison abolition. It’s like, the theory of abolishing all prisons. And I don’t know. I have to apply to college [laughs]. That’s my next year, basically. It’s just like, crackdown mode.”