Stephanie Sigman

by Gus Donohoo

I’ll Do Anything for a Woman With a Knife
When I ask Stephanie Sigman, the Mexican star of the new James Bond film Spectre, what she has learned about the nexus of beauty and power, she considers the question carefully. “I do think it’s more important to be confident than beautiful,” she answers, “There’s something about really believing in yourself and being confident that’s directly related to power.”

As an actor, most of Sigman’s roles have found her at that curious intersection where wealth and influence meet good looks. In Netflix’s Narcos she plays a glamorous television journalist obsessed with the drug-lord Pablo Escobar, and in her debut film Miss Bala (2011), Sigman shone as a reluctant Mexican beauty queen helplessly besieged by powerful men, sex, and violence. Sigman conveyed her character’s plight with such doe-eyed terror that many of the scenes haunted long after the fade to black.

When I meet Sigman, it’s at her Flaunt photoshoot in a converted warehouse studio in the L.A. Arts District—a glacial cool environment of razor sharp cheekbones and excited camera shutters. As an onlooker, and irrespective of the top-flight fashion team buzzing around her, I can’t help but suspect that Sigman would be the focus of most rooms she enters; statuesque poise, liquid black hair, and what would be described in Australian parlance as “legs for days.”

Yet when I mention to her later how relaxed she seemed (building on the observation that her modeling career began at age 16), her response surprises me: “I was very comfortable because I had a great team, but sometimes I’m very uncomfortable—sometimes I’m not having fun. It’s not because [other fashion crews are] mean people,” she clarifies earnestly, her eyes wide, “it’s if there’s chemistry—if we click—sometimes that doesn’t happen.”

For someone about to claim a mantle that is a byword for the most beautiful women on the planet—that of the “Bond girl”—this is a surprising admission, but Sigman seems remarkably honest: “I have no idea what I’m doing,” she acknowledges with a smile.

“Even in interviews,” she tells me, “I don’t know if I should create my public persona. It’s such a weird business. In every business if someone’s trying to sell you a product they’ll behave differently. People say: ‘Isn’t it strange being an actor and playing a character, and then you don’t know who you are anymore?’ Well no, behaving differently because I’m meeting someone, and then being a completely different person with someone else is more strange than playing a character.”

Sigman shows me a photograph she had taken of an artwork she liked in Colombia—it’s a glowing sentence made up of curling fluorescent lights, it says: take a selfie, fake a life. “That’s what we sometimes do,” she comments, “it’s another persona. It’s a completely different person from who we are. That’s kind of scary.”

Sigman’s own Instagram includes—amongst more conventional images—selfies of raccoon-eyed mascara streaks, and close-ups of morning pimples. They’re projections that are illuminating of an actress who’s conscious of the fiction, and who perceives the light off the edge of the stage. There’s a lot of self-assurance required in sabotaging your own vanity, but then Sigman’s learned that there’s power in confidence.

See the film.