Star of the upcoming adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, Sasha Lane, talks to Porter about navigating motherhood, managing her mental health, and making every moment count
Sasha Lane made her debut starring alongside Shia LaBeouf in American Honey but six years on, she has carved out a Hollywood career that’s entirely her own. Now, with a Cannes Jury Prize-winning film and cult TV series Utopia under her belt, Lane is adding layers to another complex antihero in the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversation With Friends.
Lane has a strong connection with her character in Hulu’s new Sally Rooney adaptation of Conversations With Friends. At first glance, cool girl Bobbi, seems like an archetype – flippant, overly blunt, aloof, entitled. But Lane was keen to uncover the layers, “It’s so easy to read the book and go, ‘Ugh, that Bobbi, she’s such a bitch, she’s so rude; everyone’s gonna hate this character’, but I’m like, ‘That’s exactly what you’re not paying attention to’… [I’m interested in] the human behind it.”
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Lane became a mother – a life change that instilled within her a piercing sense of focus; an impetus to reevaluate how much she can give to her work while still being able to pour back into herself, and her daughter. “I think I’m at a place where I wanna love what I’m doing – and I do mostly love what I’m doing – but I also have to balance,” she says. “I get anxious now with my schedules and all that. They’re like, ‘Just get on a plane’. I’m like, ‘I can’t just get on a plane – my life doesn’t work like that now.’”
It became clear that she would need to draw lines when she was filming the show Utopia while pregnant. A deeply empathetic actor, Lane realized that becoming completely consumed by a role and project was no longer sustainable. “I started learning that I have to differentiate the work between myself. Because I couldn’t put that into [my daughter]. I love what my job brings, but I’m not willing to… sacrifice.”
There are myriad things Lane refuses to sacrifice: time with the people she loves, her mental health, her autonomy, her principles, her freedom, her boundaries – motherhood included. Since her daughter was born, she’s become militant about carving out time for herself to just be.
“I have to make myself happy or be good with where I am at, which means I’m constantly working and thinking through my thoughts and feelings. So, when I’m with [my daughter] all she sees from me is fucking love and smiles and craziness,” Lane says.
Recently, Lane cut her waist-length locks to her shoulders in preparation for her role in The Crowded Room, in which she’ll be starring alongside Tom Holland and Amanda Seyfried. In the past, there have been arguments with directors and exits from projects because she was asked to cut her hair and she felt it was not worth it. This time, her intuition told her differently.
“Every time I’ve trusted my gut, it’s done amazing things,” the actress says. “Anytime I’ve gone against it, I’ve ended up in a shitstorm. […] Taking off my security blanket and having to rebuild – that’s what it feels like. I just removed my safety blanket and I have to find out if I still love myself without my hair.”
Lane is taking up space and poised to take up more without apology or questioning. “I’m very good at saying no now when it comes to projects. I’ve never been big on money, but I’ve always been big on my worth.”
Lane was discovered on a Florida beach by American Honey director Andrea Arnold when she was 19 and whisked into her first starring role. There is an implication that being ‘discovered’ risks flattening her experience, and complexity as an artist, and that her craft can become mistaken for effortless luck.
“It might be effortless, but that’s because I have years of trauma riding on my back,” she explains. “That’s how I know what [a character] is feeling and thinking… I have to tap into something. […] There is a reason that I am still here. Because – and I have to remind myself – this industry would have literally put me back on the same beach they found me on if I did not have something.”
Reflecting on her current mental health, Lane admits, “[I’ve been in] a weird place of confusion for the past couple weeks… I feel like I keep having these little bouts of – it’s not just depression, because I’ve definitely been depressed. But just very low. But then I also feel really good. I feel confused because I don’t know what I actually am. I can’t really pinpoint anything [that’s] wrong, besides maybe overthinking and exhaustion.”
This is an excerpt from Porter’s cover feature. To see the full interview read Porter.