V GIRLS: Jessica Barden

V GIRLS: Jessica Barden

V GIRLS: Jessica Barden

With youth, influence and project-driven careers, these promising actresses have our eyes glued to the screen. Here, the behind-the-scenes stories of how they found their craft.

With youth, influence and project-driven careers, these promising actresses have our eyes glued to the screen. Here, the behind-the-scenes stories of how they found their craft.

Photography: Matthew Sprout

Styling: Karolyn Pho

Text: Devin Barrett

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Jessica Barden is calling in from the airport, fresh off screening her new project, Jungleland, at the Toronto International Film Festival. “It’s a boxing movie, but it’s not your stereotypical, macho boxing movie,” she summarizes. “These characters are total underdogs; the world is against them. There was something I loved about that.” Also starring Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell, Jungleland follows two brothers as they “[experience] vulnerability in their relationship and in their world, [while] trying to have their American dream,” Barden adds.

The opportunity to act alongside Hunnam and O’Connell was a main draw for Barden, who felt a kinship with them off the bat. “The three of us are not your typical, English upper-class actors who went to drama school,” says Barden. “[Hunnam and O’Connell] are not only amazing actors, but also really nice men. I actually just waved [Hunnam] off to Mumbai downstairs, where he’s going to make a movie. I [felt] like he was my parent!”

In real life, Barden’s parents were always supportive of her acting dream—one that flourished during her picturesque upbringing in Yorkshire. “I have amazing parents who found a way to support anything my brother and I wanted to do. They wanted us to have skills that we could have for the rest of our lives. That way, we wouldn’t have to do stereotypical office jobs,” says Barden. But the 27-year-old was never idealistic about the path to success: “I worked my way up,” she says. “At age 11, I began as an extra on kids’ TV shows. I worked my way up like a normal job.”

Barden subsequently found success in the teen cult series The End of The Fucking World. A darkly comedic exploration of human psychology, the series became a hit on the U.K.’s Channel 4, before finding an international audience on Netflix, where it aired in 2018.

Like World, Jungleland explores human nature: “Boxing—[the instinct] to fight—is something that will never go away,” Barden says. This winter, Barden also reprises her role on The End of The Fucking World—a title that, two years after the show’s debut, feels as ominous as ever. Despite her projects’ sobering themes, Barden’s attitude towards her career is one of pure elation: “I really love being an actress and that I get to use my imagination,” she says. “I feel like a kid playing with dolls.”

Jessica wears Dress Moschino, Earrings stylist’s own

Credits: Makeup: Deanna Hagan (Bridge Artists) Hair: Lizzie Arneson (13 Market Management) Manicurist: Kayo Higuchi (Bryan Bantry) Production: Tessa Kenney (Exposure NY) Photo assistants: Matthew Perino, Michael Stewart Stylist assistant: Victoria Van Kesteren Location: Milk Studios

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