If you were born with an innate flair for style and a passion for film, plus killer looks, then you may just have been blessed with the makings of a true Hollywood ingénue. Just look at Havana Rose Liu, the budding actress and model who is steadily capturing the attention of audiences one unique role at a time. With a trajectory that typically only happens in movies—she was street cast by a modeling agency and found herself on the cover of Vogue Italia just a couple of years later. It’s no surprise that the New York City-born star’s foray into acting happened just as harmoniously.
“I don’t think I could act at all without everything New York City has gifted me,” Liu says. “I feel like performance is the blood of the city. Street performance, theater, music, dance— through osmosis, I feel like it’s somehow an innate building block of who I am.” Liu’s debut performance in the 2021 action drama flick Mayday helped clear the path for more roles, including a spot in Apple TV’s The Sky Is Everywhere, her first lead role in Hulu’s No Exit in 2022, and now the starring role in one of 2023’s most-talked-about films, Bottoms.
“I think a deep interest in people is where my passion for acting starts,” says Liu of her latest career moves. “If you stay open and present, you get to hear the most powerful and interesting stories, you meet the most unique personalities. Acting feels like a kindred process for me. In some ways, the character starts as a stranger, and then by staying open and present with them, I get to know them more and more. Deepening my understanding of people helps me better understand how to do my job.”
Alongside any young actor’s growing list of roles and a more permanent place in Tinseltown comes a blooming relationship with a legacy fashion house. “I was in complete giddy disbelief when I was invited to my first Chanel event,” Liu says, recalling the moment she was tapped as one of the French label’s newest ambassadors. “I honestly felt a little intimidated, but as soon as I arrived, it was immediately clear that the people they work with are also incredibly kind. I’ve felt so genuinely inspired by not only the creative initiatives that they support but also the creatives themselves—it’s been an honor.” Beyond attending countless events and donning the brand simultaneously, Liu has been cementing her look more and more with each off-the-runway piece she rocks. “I always appreciated the way that Chanel historically presented an expanded image of femininity. While I was initially drawn to the way that the brand welcomes a touch of androgyny, it has been exciting to discover how much I also enjoy feeling like a femme princess,” says Liu.
“Working with Chanel has pulled this glamor out of me that was definitely undernourished. They’ve shown me new sparkly sides of myself and in completely different styles and silhouettes each time. This kind of versatility is liberating, and it reminds me that I don’t need to be limited to a single image.” Having recently attended the house’s showstopping cruise 2023/24 show, which took place on the Paramount Studios lot where many cinematic dreams of yesteryear were born, it seems that those similar dreams for Liu aren’t limited to the big screen. ”I want to try a little of everything in this little life.” she laughs. “Acting is special because you kind of get to do that by playing characters with different pastimes and professions, but just in case I don’t ever get to play someone who makes their own furniture, I currently have a deep desire to learn how to build a chair from scratch.”
Discover an extended Q&A with Havana Rose Liu, below!
V Magazine: You started off dancing at a very young age. What is one particularly fond memory that you remember being formative for you as you went on in your career?
Havana Rose Liu: When I was younger, I went to see a piece by Pina Bausch at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the whole way home I couldn’t stop seeing other people’s movement on the street as choreography. Someone walking in a particular way, someone dropping something and picking it up, two people embracing. Then I couldn’t stop seeing my own movements as choreography— brushing my teeth, looking both ways before crossing the street, kneeling to tie my shoe. I feel like it gave me this whole new way of looking at art and the endless ways it could comment on and be born from life, and I genuinely have never looked at things the same way again.
V: Being shot in CHANEL’s latest cruise collection which seemingly served as an homage to Hollywood, What are some of your favorite items from the collection?
HRL: The shoes that light up when you walk. They are surprising, chic, and undeniably fun. Those shoes reminded me of how cleverly CHANEL manages to bridge sophistication and a sense of play.
V: I’m sure you’re naturally a movie buff since venturing into the world of acting. What are some of your favorite films that have impacted you in life?
HRL: Regrettably I am not a movie buff! Or maybe I’m a movie buff in training. I didn’t watch many films growing up— I was raised largely by my grandparents so I think I saw Singing in the Rain and The Sound of Music both upwards of 50 times. It’s safe to say I have been doing a ton of catch-up. Until I earn that title, [there] are a few that have recently been on my mind, [such as] Slow by Marija Kavtaradze, In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-Wai, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes by Junta Yamaguchi.
Photography Dan Beleiu
Fashion Nicola Formichetti
Makeup Kabuki Using CHANEL Beauty
Hair Ward Stegerhoek (Home Agency)
Models Blake Reid (The Society), Ahmad (IMG)
Manicure Kylie Kwok (Tracey Mattingly)
Set Design Vivian Swift (Mhs Artists)
Photo Assistants Sam Mckenna, William Pippin
Stylist Assistant Kristian Chevre
Makeup Assistant Andrew Karrick
Hair Assistant Brian Casey
Set Design Assistants Michael Newton, Em Canon
Location Shio Studio