“In elementary school, I would always dress up,” recalls actress Ariana Greenblatt. “I had the Dis- ney princess costumes, but I never wore a full look—I would make my own characters. I’ve always been creating.” For most, dress-up would be something that stays in the playroom—but for Greenblatt, it transported her to the Holly- wood big screen.
Growing up in both New York and Florida, Greenblatt was infatuated with gymnastics and dance, but her earliest artistic aspirations led her to fantasize about the mainstage: “I wanted to be Matilda on Broadway, that was my dream,” she recalls. At six, while on a family vacation in Los Angeles, Greenblatt went on three auditions in one week—Legendary Dudas, Stuck in the Middle (where she starred as Daphne Diaz alongside Jenna Ortega for the duration of the series), and Liv and Maddie. “I got all three roles and I was like, ‘What is happening to my life?’” she explains. “Something clicked. Like, ‘I can’t stop, I can’t go back.’ I was six, what am I saying? I fell in love with acting.”
Greenblatt continued her progression with appearances in Netflix’s Awake and alongside big names like Marc Anthony and Rita Moreno for In the Heights. But it was in the role of Koa for the sci-fi thriller 65 that the burgeoning star proved she could truly do it all.
The mind-bending blockbuster sees Greenblatt opposite Adam Driver, who plays Mills—a pilot who, after surviving a catastrophic plane crash, is left alone on Earth alongside the other only known survivor, Koa. The pair traverse the planet while navigating a language barrier and daunting obstacles like dinosaurs, debris, and asteroids. While Driver is a Hollywood veteran, Greenblatt showed she could hold her own—her ability to channel the essence of Koa mainly through body language shows an actress well beyond her years. “The process of 65 was a full pressure test, I felt like I was in the Navy,” she explains. “Throughout filming, Adam and I went through difficult situations—running for our lives, getting cuts and bruises—that bonded us. I was like, ‘Dude, you’re working one-on-one with someone who is brilliant, so you better bring it.’”
Now juggling the realities of Hollywood and high school (a driving permit is at the top of her list), Greenblatt is gearing up for another milestone: a spot in Greta Gerwig’s romantic comedy Barbie. Though the actress remains relatively tight-lipped about her part in the production, working alongside veterans like Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, and Helen Mirren was a vision that became reality. At 15, Greenblatt is one of the most exciting young talents in Hollywood thanks to an innate ability to tap into the characters she plays—just like she did in childhood, crafting her own Disney princesses. “I want to get my car, just normal stuff like that too,” she notes. “But I’m hoping to write my own story soon—writing and directing has always been something I’m interested in. Growing up as a kid in the industry, it feels like I’m living two lives at all times.”
Barbie premieres in theaters on July 21, 2023.
Photography Dennis Leupold
Fashion Christopher Campbell
Makeup Rob Rumsey (A-Frame)
Hair Patricia Morales (The Visionaries)
Executive producer Johnny Pascucci (Photobomb)
Production coordinator Merry Nestor (Photobomb)
Photo assistant Charles Brown
Stylist assistant Alexis Kossel
Makeup assistant Gabriela Vega
Hair assistants Jessica Arriaga, Luna Vela
Location Dust Studios