V Girls: Caroline Day

The ones to watch, ingenues, and names to know now. Meet Hollywood’s next generation of screen queens.

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For Caroline Day, the itch to act came early. So early, in fact, that she must have been “pretty much pre-conscious,” she says. “I sort of feel like I came out of the womb in tap shoes kind of thing,” explains Day. “I think I knew that acting was what I wanted to do before I even knew you had to grow up and get a job.” Further evidence came at age five or six, when Day became obsessed with the wrenching dramatic climax of 2001’s Moulin Rouge—Nicole Kidman’s death by consumption in the arms of her lover. “I watched that scene over and over again,” Day says, laughing. “My parents were super disturbed by me reenacting her violent death, but I feel like that was a pretty good indicator of my future career.”

Day sang and danced extensively in childhood, but her passions flourished in high school when she moved to NYC. “I grew up moving all over the South, and always felt a little bit out of place or like a black sheep, because being a theater geek is just not cool below the Mason- Dixon line,” recalls Day, who moved to NYC to attend high school at Professional Children’s School (PCS). “It was totally the Island of Misfit Toys, but I automatically felt like I’d found my tribe, my people. It was so dorky: Everybody was feeling their feelings, 14-year-old boys were trying to dress like Bob Fosse, and I felt so at home,” she adds. “I saw so much more than you usually see at 12, 13, 14; my world got so much bigger.”

Studying art history at Columbia University, Day modeled and continued to act. “It felt really important to me to finish college and have a degree, especially because I knew I was going into this crazy career path,” she says. Recently, Day got to do much more than just reenact Kidman’s early aughts work—she co-stars with the statuesque actress in The Goldfinch (in theaters September 13), also featuring Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort, and Luke Wilson. “I read The Goldfinch on a train,” says Day of the film’s source material, Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-winning novel. “For anybody who hasn’t read it yet, I highly recommend reading it on a train, it’s very romantic.” When she saw a Deadline report saying that the film was being cast, she emailed her agents, saying “I have to go in for this!” A memorable encounter on set was a touching pep talk from Kidman. “At one point, I think Nicole could tell I was a little bit nervous, so she came up to me and talked about what it’s like to be a tall woman in Hollywood,” says Day, who at 5’10” is an inch shy of Kidman. “She was like, ‘It’s great, carry it, it’s exciting!’ It was so cool of her to go out of her way to make sure I felt comfortable going into my scene. I’ll never forget that. I was just really moved.”

Caroline wears top Guess, skirt Sies Marjan, necklace Rough Trade, ring her own
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