A Rose Grows at Netflix
RUBY ROSE AT WILD HONEY STUDIOS IN LOS ANGELES, JUNE 2015. PHOTOS: GUY LOWNDES. STYLING: ANDA & MASHA. MAKEUP: LISET GARZA FOR THE WALL GROUP USING TOM FORD. HAIR: PAUL DESMARRE FOR EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS MANAGEMENT USING ORIBE HAIR CARE.
Every few months, a new “it girl” inevitably pops onto the Hollywood scene. They’re hard to miss—gifted (sometimes) and beautiful (always), their auras effortlessly command rooms and red carpets. Some stay around (we’re looking at you, Chloë Sevigny), while others eventually fade out into oblivion. The defining “it girl” of the moment is the 29-year-old androgynous Australian beauty Ruby Rose.
Born Ruby Rose Langenheim and raised in Melbourne, Rose is perhaps best known for her role as new inmate Stella Carlin on season three of Orange Is the New Black. Despite only appearing in seven episodes, her character took Litchfield Penitentiary by storm—she formed a close romantic relationship with the show’s protagonist, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), even going so far as to giving Piper a custom “Trust No Bitch” tattoo and assisting her in her illegal panty business. But when Stella ends up turning on Piper by stealing money from the business a few days before she’s due to be released, Piper retaliates by hiding an array of illicit items in Stella’s bunk, seemingly making her be sent to maximum security as a result. The future, for Stella, is all but certain and peachy.
Prior to her breakthrough role on Orange, the extensively tattooed Rose held a variety of careers in her native Australia, including a longstanding run as a VJ on MTV and a television presenter for other television news shows. On top of acting, she’s currently an in-demand DJ who travels the world for gigs, as well as a face of Maybelline.
DEVON IVIE: You’ve had a range of careers thus far in your life. What piqued your interest first when you were younger?
RUBY ROSE: I guess it was acting. When I was younger, I didn’t know television presenting was a thing, which is how I totally got my foot in the door. But I didn’t really know that was a job. I never really had a TV, or watched TV, and I really just wanted to be an actor. When I was in school, I took an acting course, and then I got a job at MTV, so I kind of switched careers and did that for quite some time, five or six years. And I had a radio show. It wasn’t really until the last two years that I’ve been able to get into acting, which is very strange, because I’ve talked about it for 10 years. But I’m exactly where I want to be now.
IVIE: Did you grow up in a creative household?
ROSE: Yeah, my mom is a painter and an artist. She would play music and she always had very good taste in music, fashion, and art. She was also a young single mom so I think she had really good style, she was really free…just really inspiring in her own way, and allowed me to find the direction I wanted to take in my life.
IVIE: Being a former MTV VJ in Australia, has it been weird seeing MTV gradually change its format from a deeply-rooted music-centric network to one that’s now dominated by reality shows and scripted programs?
ROSE: Yeah, when I was a host at MTV we had our own productions. At MTV Australia, there was a lot of content, and it was a really great time to work at MTV. I know it’s now moving into other projects. I definitely saw Pimp My Ride and that kind of caliber of reality TV shows. But I wasn’t really there when Jersey Shore or any of those shows hit. I moved on to do other things, and I haven’t had too much time to watch TV. I think that music is the heart of MTV, and that’s why it gotten where it is today. It’s interesting the way it’s gone. I guess it’s supply and demand. They’re providing the people with the opportunity to watch those kinds of shows.
IVIE: I miss TRL. I mourned the loss of that show for a long time.
ROSE: Right? Yeah, TRL was great. We never got it in Australia, though.
IVIE: Did you watch Orange before signing onto the third season?
ROSE: Yeah, yeah. I was really into the show and very into the relationships of the show. When it first came out, when I was travelling, I kept hearing about it, so I said to myself that I had to check it out. When I got home and had time, I binge-watched it. Three days later and I had watched all of it. I was like, what happened? [laughs] I had never binge-watched something on my computer before. That was my discovery.
IVIE: What was the audition process like for Stella?
ROSE: It was really straightforward. The pressure was that I put pressure on myself, being given the opportunity to audition for one of my favorite shows. They had already started the casting process for Stella, and I made a short film about gender fluidity that had gone viral, and I think it was the thing that got Jen [Euston, casting director]. She put out feelers for actors and they got me…well, this is all speculation. I can’t imagine how else they got my name in the office. I guess they probably saw my film. The character I play in the short film and Stella have a lot of things in common. But it was a really fast-track process. They do things very quick at Orange; you never know what’s going to happen on a day-to-day basis.
IVIE: Despite being on the show for a relatively short time, what would you want your legacy on Orange to be?
ROSE: I don’t know, and I feel that should be up to the people who watch the show. They always choose something different. I’m on for a short amount of time. I think some people take it at face value and see her as a heartthrob, while other people see her as quite dishonorable or deplorable. Some people are just really happy that there’s a gender fluid character—a lot of it can be taken away from that. But I’d say it’s up to people and what their interpretation is of her, as opposed to me. [laughs] To me, the most important thing is being able to be on set with these amazing actors, writers, directors, and producers. That kind of experience is one of a kind.
IVIE: Where do you think Stella’s next steps are after the end of the season? Do you know if you’ll be back for season four yet?
ROSE: I don’t know, anything can happen. Like I said, we don’t know week-to-week what’s going to happen. Are you going to be killed off? Are you going to get a love interest? In my case, are you going to have to be naked? You literally get a couple of days’ notice… I feel like what happened to her, some people think she was cheated and that it was revenge, but other people think it was really unfair because she was completely screwed over and was so close to getting out, and now has to do more time. In my experience with Stella, I feel like she’d be pretty bummed out, wanting to work things out with Piper, because that’s a really tough way to go.
IVIE: How would you define the relationship between Stella and Piper?
ROSE: They’re very different, but it works. I think that Stella is more of a tomboy; she has a “don’t really care” attitude and is a lot more sure of herself. I think that attraction is based off the tension between Piper’s interior and Stella really wanting to find out that interior for herself, and maybe sees a little bit of a challenge there. Stella might feel that she wants to know Piper, but wasn’t really expecting an attraction or what was Piper’s end game. The manipulation [Piper] was doing within that time was much more self-serving then something that was going to be a long-term relationship or genuinely caring about Stella. It’s kind of sad. I feel a little bit bad for Stella.
IVIE: Some actors like to invent backstories for their characters, which helps add a layer of depth. Did you find yourself doing that with Stella?
ROSE: I do, but it has definitely changed quite often. I think of how she got to where she was, or why she acted the way she acted, or why she appeared the way she appeared. You read things and you think, “Oh wow, that’s a totally different direction to what I was thinking,” or, “Wow, that’s literally what I had in mind for my character.” Jackie [Cruz], when talking about her character [Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales], she said she had four or five backstories, and none of them were correct. [laughs] I think as an actor, you have to come up with some substance to your character, without making too many assumptions that are going to change your delivery. You have to make some decisions. I definitely had some ideas about why Stella had been there. There are never any references to any kind of drug use or violence, or undertones of any kind of really intense regret or anything like that. My theory is that she is connected to money: money laundering, fraud, or something to do with Wall Street, kind of down that route as to why she’s in.
IVIE: Is there a kind of role that you haven’t done yet but would love to pursue in the future?
ROSE: Yeah. The greatest thing about having done Orange are the doors that have opened for me, and people have been able to see me, like the executives and the casting directors, also all of the fantastic directors and writers for independent films. There are definitely a lot of roles playing around that I think would be great for—female protagonists. I did a guest spot on a sci-fi movie [Dark Matter]. I got to play with a toy gun and shoot people. That kind of thing has a lot of adrenaline and it’s very different from Orange. It’s really just action and I think that I would like to do that a little bit more—running around and driving fast cars and fighting people. It makes you want to be in an action film.
IVIE: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
ROSE: Oh, I have loads. It’s hard to pick just one. When I was young and getting bullied at school, and really not feeling like I would amount to much and staying isolated, my mom used to say to me a lot about how you treat people and always having dignity and respect. Something timeless, always trying to live every day like it’s a new one, and being the person that you really want to be. Life is short; you don’t really want to waste your short time on the planet being mad at people or being involved in drama. It just really ended up as always being kind.
SEASON THREE OF ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE TO STREAM ON NETFLIX.