Stefania LaVie Owen on family, films, and feminism.
Stefania LaVie Owen takes the chaos that consumes her twenty-one-year old life and grasps it firmly at its throat, undeniably conquering it with each stepping stone in her life. Unlike most people her age, she is not frightened by the inscrutable future, but rather exuberant for what’s in store.
Owen has flourished both on and off set since the debut of her acting career in “The Lovely Bones.” 2019 is an ambitious year for the starlet with two upcoming films, “The Cat and the Moon” and “The Beach Bum,” as well as the new Netflix series “Messiah.”
Although very busy with her life on set, Owen indubitably makes time for family. “If I’m not in New Zealand, we’re on FaceTime or messaging each other, sending photos, sending videos just to stay in touch and know what each other’s doing so that we’re still connected in all of our experiences,” Owen described overcoming the physical boundary of long-distance relationships. “That’s one of the hardest parts about being away and being in this industry because you’re constantly moving and not able to stay in one spot.”
Owen acknowledges that she is fortunate enough, however, to have a second family within the entertainment industry. “I love being on set, especially when it’s a family dynamic like “Messiah,” let’s say.” The cast is so close, in fact, that the first people Owen reached out to when she arrived back in L.A. from a family visit in New Zealand was her “Messiah” family. “We couldn’t get enough of each other. We would spend so much time outside of work and yeah, as soon as we wrapped we were still together.”
Created by Michael Petroni, the 10-episode series documents themes of religion and politics through various points of view. One perspective comes from Owen’s complex character, Rebecca Iguero, a troubled Texas teen who wishes for any life but her own.
“I think Rebecca comes from a very conservative family because she’s raised by a pastor, or someone who runs a church, and she’s grown up in that kind of world,” said Owen, as she dissects the meaning of her character. “She kind of goes against all that she has grown up with and it’s kind of her struggle to become who she is in a world that sort of restrains her. Throughout the show, she’s really discovering who she is throughout the chaos that happens around her.”
Although filming for “Messiah” could be compared to shooting a ten-hour-long movie, Owen’s most recent film, “The Beach Bum,” alongside the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, and Isla Fisher recently premiered at South by Southwest.
“It was really exciting and very surreal,” Owen said about working with such a renowned cast. “Because we were filming in Miami, it felt like a dream. It felt like being on vacation and it was a very energetic vibe with the sun shining and it felt extremely surreal.”
Owen’s life is perceivably beyond comparable to that of a conventional millennial lifestyle from constant travel, fickle set times, and everything in between. What sets her the furthest apart from her compulsively internet-addicted peers is her brave dedication to her nonexistent presence on social media.
“I feel like sometimes it can cause a lot of anxiety. Also, social media can do really great things and I’m not against it. I also can see how it can be really negative on people - whether it’s their body image, whether it’s their view on themselves, or their lives - people can kind of get lost in that,” Owen reasonably justifies her lack of presence on apps that so often consume people’s cerebration at an unhealthy rate.
“I decided to take a step away from it and do my own thing for a while. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back on it again. But, for now I’m enjoying life without it.”
Owen’s thoughts on social media are partially reflected from her experience attending an all-girls high school. She observed the formidable ways that social media prompted a negative impact on many of her peers’ self-image. As Owen refrained from falling into the puissant hands of social media, her high school experience nonetheless proved to be empowering and influenced her character as a feminist.
“I am a feminist, it’s just people define that in so many different ways. Well, of course the equality of men and women, but also just the empowerment of human beings and coming together as humans instead of having one or the other. I feel like when we go so black and white we lose sight of the wholeness of being one body of people. I guess it’s just being human to me and connecting to people on a person-to-person basis rather than ‘girl’ or ‘boy.’”
Perhaps the word need not be definable, but rather should function as a societal movement. Owen’s universal advice to all humans seems to fit such a campaign: “Never lose sight of where you came from and who you are.”
The undaunted Owen’s path in life hardly ends with her acting career, but rather opens up with opportunities to explore endless creative junctures alongside her journey as an actress.
“There’s a lot of things that I want to do and what’s cool is that in the film industry, you’re flexible to do other things. Alongside acting I want to do lots of things, but yes. Who knows, in five years a lot can change,” said Owen.
With plans to attend New York University in September, Owen is excited to study an array of topics from sociology to history of film and writing. As for the unforeseen future, the only constant in Owen’s life is change.
“There’s just so much to do. We have one life so you might as well do as much as you can.”