Elsie Fisher is the Breakout Star of 2018

Elsie Fisher is the Breakout Star of 2018

The star of 'Eighth Grade' explores the realities of growing up online.

The star of 'Eighth Grade' explores the realities of growing up online.

Photography: Justin Campbell

Styling: Yana Kamps

Text: Elizabeth Kiefer

This interview appears in the pages of V114, The Fearless Gigi Issue, on newsstands now! Order your copy of the issue today at shop.vmagazine.com

As you may recall—perhaps with perfect clarity—eighth grade sucked. It was when cool-girl cliques that had just begun to form became terrifyingly crystallized, and sudden spurts of boobs or acne determined your place in the social hierarchy. As bad as that time may have been, consider yourself lucky if it happened before social media existed. You might have had it rough, but kids these days have it rougher.

Such is the subject of Eighth Grade, the Sundance darling hitting theaters in July. Written and directed by Bo Burnham, the film stars the fearless Elsie Fisher as Kayla, who is voted “most quiet” in her class. The superlative is, like everything at that age, embarrassing, but it gets her in a room with the object of her a affection, Aiden, played byLuke Prael. When Kayla sees Aiden across the room, the musical swell is enough to make you remember the feeling of an unrequited crush.

Burnham’s film feels unprecedented in the seriousness with which it considers the teen experience and its commitment to observing the world through its heroine’s eyes—never falling into the “another teen movie” trap. Fisher, whose voice you might recognize from the Despicable Me movies (though she’s grown up a lot since then) was grateful to get a script that didn’t call for a leading actress with perfect skin—or perfect anything. “Teenagers should be able to see themselves on screen,” she says over the phone. That includes “weird, gooey, crackly, normal skin” and all, she says.

Like her character, Fisher struggles with anxiety, which she says is often triggered by her phone. “It’s definitely addicting, and it can lead to over-analyzing of the self,” she adds. “You watch yourself live, you watch other people live. It’s too much.”

But also like Kayla, Fisher is an optimist, acknowledging the positive aspects of social media. “I think it makes it easier for people to become friends,” she says. “I think it makes some people feel less alone.” That is also what Eighth Grade accomplishes. Even many adults who see this film will walk out of movie theaters feeling—finally—seen.

ELSIE WEARS SHIRT HELMUT LANG, JEANS GUESS

Credits: MAKEUP HOLLY SILIUS (LOWE & CO) USING CHANEL PALETTE ESSENTIELLE, HAIR TRACI BARRETT (ART DEPARTMENT), PHOTO ASSISTANT BENJAMIN ASKINAS, STYLIST ASSISTANT AMIRA AOUDJ, LOCATION DUST STUDIOS

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