Laura Harrier on Hollywood, social media and turning 30 under lockdown

Laura Harrier wears bikini top Matteau and skirt Matteau. Photographed by Sonia Szóstak for Porter, NET-A-PORTER.COM. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via net-a-porter.com. (Credit: Sonia Szóstak/Porter/NET-A-PORTER.COM)

Actress Laura Harrier rose to fame following a modeling stint and her role as Destiny Evans in the soap opera One Life to Live, then a significant role in the 2017 reboot Spider-Man: Homecoming. The gorgeous biracial actress of African-American, Rusyn and English descent then co-starred as a civil rights activist in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, opposite John David Washington, Adam Driver, and Topher Grace.

Now, Harrier talks to NET-A-PORTER’s digital title, PORTER, about turning 30 and promoting her new Netflix series, Hollywood, during lockdown, the importance of a good community, and being wary of putting too much on social media.

Harrier is currently promoting Hollywood from her living room and can’t help thinking how things could have been different: “It’s such a strange experience, thinking what this would normally be like. Instead, I’m promoting this whole project at home by myself, sitting on my couch.”

The experience seems to have uncovered some home truths, Harrier explains: “I’ve learnt that I’m really bad at being alone. I’m someone who’s always surrounded by people, so maybe it’s a good thing and I’ll take this time to learn to be a bit more introspective and to slow down. Usually my life is constantly moving, traveling, working, and it’s very rare that I’m at home. This is definitely the longest I’ve been in LA – ever.”

As well as promoting Hollywood from her living room, Harrier has just celebrated her 30th birthday at home: “I thought I’d turn 30 and feel this whole shift, but I kind of feel the same. There are goals and personal achievements that I would like to work towards, but it’s strange when everything feels on pause.”

Laura Harrier wears dress Alexander Mcqueen and hair clip Sophie Buhai. Photographed by Sonia Szóstak for Porter, NET-A-PORTER.COM. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via net-a-porter.com. (Credit: Sonia Szóstak/Porter/NET-A-PORTER.COM)

What did she do to celebrate at home this year? “I actually got my dress [a scarlet and fuchsia Solace London one-shoulder mini] from NET-A-PORTER for my Zoom birthday party! It was black tie, and everybody dressed up. I’ve really enjoyed having specific days where it’s like, ‘No, we’re going to make an effort’ and change out of sweatpants and try to feel normal.”

Harrier’s latest project, Hollywood – in which she stars as Camille Washington – was released on 1 May, created by Ryan Murphy – the man behind Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story and The Politician.

During filming, Harrier forged a particular closeness with writer, director and executive producer Janet Mock: “All the directors in our series were amazing, but I was able to connect with Janet on a different level – being a black woman and being someone who knows what it’s like to go through so much adversity in life.”

Harrier explain how she feels as a biracial woman and if she ever feels frustrated being categorised as a spokesperson or activist, simply for speaking out on subjects she’s passionate about: “Being a black woman is something beautiful and it ties us together in a really special way, but I’ve never wanted to say that my life is the same as anyone else’s. I always find it a bit strange when I’m asked what it means to be a black woman in Hollywood. I don’t know what it’s like to be anything other than a black woman in Hollywood! I can tell you what it’s like for me, Laura, but I don’t want to speak for other people. I want to be a champion, I want to support us, and I want to be representational for us. There were so few women that I could look at growing up and connect with on-screen. If I can do that for some girls, I’m more than happy to and feel like I’ve done my job.”

For PORTER’s shoot, Harrier was photographed by Sonia Szóstak and styled by Danielle Goldberg wearing black and white looks from Simone Rocha, Loewe, Alexander McQueen and more. All items can be purchased straight from the shoot via the NET-A-PORTER app, available on Android as well as iPhone and iPad, and through net-a-porter.com.

Laura Harrier wears top Alaïa and Skirt Loewe. Photographed by Sonia Szóstak for Porter, NET-A-PORTER.COM. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via net-a-porter.com. (Credit: Sonia Szóstak/Porter/NET-A-PORTER.COM)

Interview highlights:

Laura Harrier on being wary of putting too much on social media: “I’m wary of social media and putting too much of myself on it. This experience has been funny because, all of a sudden, I have people in my house all the time [via video calls] and I’m doing shoots on my couch.” 

Laura Harrier on promoting Netflix show Hollywood from her living room, and thinking how things could have been different: “It’s such a strange experience, thinking what this would normally be like. Instead, I’m promoting this whole project at home by myself, sitting on my couch. Obviously, it’s necessary and important, but I definitely miss the fun aspects of all this – the dressing up, getting to meet people and going to different cities to promote something you’ve worked really hard on.”

Laura Harrier on what she’s learned about herself recently: “I’ve learnt that I’m really bad at being alone! I’m someone who’s always surrounded by people, so maybe it’s a good thing and I’ll take this time to learn to be a bit more introspective and to slow down. Usually my life is constantly moving, traveling, working, and it’s very rare that I’m at home. This is definitely the longest I’ve been in LA – ever.”

Laura Harrier on celebrating her 30th birthday at home: “I thought I’d turn 30 and feel this whole shift, but I kind of feel the same. There are goals and personal achievements that I would like to work towards, but it’s strange when everything feels on pause. I’m having a 30th birthday again next year. 31? I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

Laura Harrier on her 30th birthday party on Zoom at home: “I actually got my dress [a stunning scarlet and fuchsia Solace London one-shoulder mini] from NET-A-PORTER for my Zoom birthday party! It was black tie, and everybody dressed up. I’ve really enjoyed having specific days where it’s like, ‘No, we’re going to make an effort’ and change out of sweatpants and try to feel normal.”

Laura Harrier on her ground-breaking role in Spiderman, with Zendaya: “After I did my screen test for Spiderman, before I had heard anything, it came out a few weeks later that Zendaya was going to be cast in it, so I just figured I hadn’t got the job. She must have. I called my agent and they reassured me I was still in the running. I thought it was incredible and ground-breaking of Marvel to put us both in those roles and not to make it about our blackness. We were just girls who went to a school in New York and that’s what New York City looks like; films should reflect that. We had the best time making that movie. Zendaya and I are friends now and I’m really grateful for her.”

Laura Harrier on the friends she’s made along the way, such as Zendaya, who have been crucial in helping to make sense of a new life in the limelight: “It’s really important to have that community in an industry that can feel isolating at the best of times. [Musician Kilo] Kish and I have been friends for over 10 years. We met when we were babies, after we’d both moved to New York. She worked the front desk where I was getting my hair cut. We were both little party girls, would always run into each other and became super-close.”

Laura Harrier on Ryan Murphy – the man behind Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story and The Politician and Hollywood: “He’s super-important in the world of TV and film, but also, he’s been at the forefront of representation for a long time. He’s always had diverse casts, he’s always championed marginalized people – people of color, women and people from the LGBTQ community. He gives them a lot of opportunities and uses his power to uplift others.”

Laura Harrier on how she feels as a biracial woman and if she ever feels frustrated being categorized as a spokesperson or activist, simply for speaking out on subjects she’s passionate about: “Being a black woman is something beautiful and it ties us together in a really special way, but I’ve never wanted to say that my life is the same as anyone else’s. I always find it a bit strange when I’m asked what it means to be a black woman in Hollywood. I don’t know what it’s like to be anything other than a black woman in Hollywood! I can tell you what it’s like for me, Laura, but I don’t want to speak for other people.”

To read the full interview with Laura Harrier, head to PORTER or download the NET-A-PORTER app for iPhone, iPad and Android.

See also: Net-A-Porter sits down with Kirsten Dunst

In this Story: #culture / entertainment