Entering Sotheby's art auction house on a crisp winter day, it's no wonder that the majority of the talent, actresses, influencers, and art aficionados are wrapped in wool, or, more likely, cashmere scarves, and floor-length camel coats. In a sea of muted colors, Bel Powley sticks out with a classic red lip, long sleek ponytail, and her signature big blue eyes. Walking through the room, she is clearly in demand, with publicists and photographers seeking her attention, but her calm focus remains on her mother, with whom she is attending the Tory Burch Fall 2020 show.
Before we move to a quieter corner to talk, Powley deems my outfit “fantastic” in her warm British accent. Amidst the high-profile crowd and large-scale Francesca DiMattio sculptures that enhanced Burch's latest collection of optimistic, powerful designs, the actress's quiet confidence is on full display. In just a month, she'll have her next big moment when she stars in The King of Staten Island, the Judd Apatow-directed film that stars Pete Davidson in a storyline reflecting his own life. The multi-faceted leading lady opened up to L'Officiel USA about her role in the new film, her biggest fashion don’t, and what she's most excited about during fashion week.
Powley with her mother, Janis Jaffa / Photo via Instagram @belpowley
What are you most excited about for fashion week?
I'm just really excited to be in New York. New York is one of my favorite cities in the world, so I'm just excited that I've been brought here on this beautiful sunny winter's day. Also, I'm a huge lover of fashion, so I've always loved being front and center. Being able to see everything first is very cool for me.
What are you most looking forward to about the Tory Burch show?
It's my first-ever Tory Burch show. I love this brand so much. I respect so much how she champions women and her support of everything female. I'm just excited to meet her and be here.
Is there a trend that you would never wear?
I'm not a big fan of body con. I think some people look absolutely incredible in them, but that's just not my vibe. I like big shapes!
How would you describe your relationship to fashion?
I feel very lucky as an actress that I get to kind of use fashion as another strand of my creativity. I like to push the boundaries. I like to use it to really show who I am.
You have a new film coming out in June, The King of Staten Island. What made you excited to accept this role?
Oh my god, Judd Apatow is one of my favorite directors. Since I was a kid, I've always wanted to work with him. I love doing comedy. Pete's an old friend of mine, so just the marriage of those three things was a dream come true for me.
Photo via Getty Images
What was it like to work with Judd Apatow?
Absolutely amazing. It's really scary because it's all improvised comedy, so you really have to be prepared to throw yourself into the deep end. I mean, he's the king of comedy, so if you're going to do comedy, do it with him.
What kinds of roles do you gravitate towards when reading scripts?
It has to be different from the previous one. Otherwise, I get bored. You'll see in The King of Staten Island I'm literally playing a native Staten Island girl. I like playing roles that couldn't be further from myself, like character comedy.
How did you get into film?
I got into film through doing theatre. I started in theatre from quite a young age and then I auditioned for my first movie, Diary of a Teenage Girl, when I was around 21. I was very lucky to be given that part and that kind of was a springboard for my career.
If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
I'd like to be a teacher in an inner-city London comprehensive, like a state school.
What do you find challenging about bringing a character to life?
What do I find challenging about it... I mean, everything. If you think about it, my job is basically pretending to be other people and making that seem believable. I mean, that in itself is challenging.
Who were your early influences? Who are your influences now?
I love actresses who don't give a shit, especially older actresses who never gave a shit. I'm a huge fan of Frances McDormand and Meryl Streep; actresses who've persevered at being themselves and haven't succumbed to the pressures of being a woman, especially women in the spotlight. That's kind of what I strive to be like, too.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I'm about to start shooting season two of The Morning Show, so I'm pretty excited about that. Then the movie will come out and we'll see what happens next!