Laura Harrier | Reading The Room, Writing The New Lore

Via Issue 187, The Critical Mass Issue!

Written by

Hannah Bhuiya

Photographed by

Chrisean Rose

Styled by

Thomas Christos Kikis

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SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO top, leggings, shoes, and bracelets.


YOU’RE MADE FOR THE BIG SCREEN, HONEY.—Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson), White Men Can’t Jump (1992)


ALL POWER TO ALL PEOPLE. –Patrice Dumas, (Laura Harrier) BlacKkKlansman (2018)

FERRAGAMO dress and TIFFANY & CO. necklace.

In military parlance, a Harrier is a powerful jet that goes straight up. So it’s apt that I’m meeting Laura Harrier, an actor whose career has been on the rise and rise, at a slick rooftop restaurant overlooking the glass-and-steel skyline of Downtown LA.

Arriving directly from her FLAUNT cover shoot, Harri-er flashes up a preview of the pics you see here on her phone, and I’m as dazzled as you surely are, too. In this Pop-bright 80s-Grace-Jones-by-Jean-Paul-Goude session (and in all the images I’d ever seen taken of her) Harrier is a woman on fire, radiating a high-wattage glamor that bursts off the magazine page and screens of all sizes. In contrast to her explosive photographic effect, the Harrier that sits before me in person is softly spoken and serene. With translucent skin and eyes still framed by the shoot’s thick lashes, she exudes a fresh prettiness in a low-key chic-casual look, a black cardigan draped over her shoulders.

FERRAGAMO dress, shoes, and TIFFANY & CO. necklace.

It’s sunny up here on the 13th floor, a touch of marine layer swirling below, diffusing the view across the jagged man-made canyons. Built as HQ of the members-only ‘Commercial Club of Southern California,’ this prime S. Broadway address boasts an authentic old-school Athletics Club. In a stellar example of adaptive reuse, the tower’s current owner, Proper Hotel, has re-vamped the entire 1926 structure, whilst retaining its neat historic quirks. Today, there’s even a super-high-ceilinged suite carved out of what used to be a fully functional basketball court on the sixth floor. 

Which is a nice detail, because I’m here to speak to Harrierahead of the release of the reboot of 1992’s classic basketball buddy movie White Men Can’t Jump. Just as much as 90s hits Pulp Fiction or The Big Lebowski, the sassy and street-smart White Men Can’t Jump was a global smash hit that slam-dunked an in-sider slice of Los Angeles subculture directly into hearts and minds around the world and inspired many to take up hoop-life. In the forthcoming 2023 iteration, Harrier plays ‘Tatiana,’ the girlfriend of the white guy of the title, ‘Jeremy,’ brought to life by rapper Jack Harlow. Sinqua Walls is his wise-crack-ing partner-in-hustle, with Teyana Taylor rounding out the core cast four. Due to drop this May on Hulu, the fast-paced comedy is helmed by seasoned music video director Calmatic and produced by 20th Century Studios.

Born in 1990 and now 33, Harrier’s been building up to headlining feature films ever since segueing from modeling to acting as a teen. In the years since a short-lived stint on the soap opera, One Life to Live, critically-acclaimed directors have been clamoring to cast her, with Harrier sought after for assignments that require both beauty and brains. The Marvel Universe called in 2017, and Harrier landed the plum part of high school crush ‘Liz’ in Spider-Man: Homecoming alongside Tom Holland and Zendaya. More recently, Harrier strutted her stuff 80s-style in shoulder pads and teased-up bouffant as Robin Givens in Hulu’s Mike, with Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes as the embattled boxer. In 2022 she voiced the animated character of ‘Carmen’ after being hand-picked by writer Kenya Barris and Kid Cudi for Entergalactic (Netflix) which also showcases the vocal talents of Ty Dolla $ign, Jaden Smith, and Timothée Chalamet. 

As the city’s finest vertical façades shimmer around us on all sides, we settle in to talk about where it all began, and the journey so far.

LOEWE top and shorts and BEVZA shoes.

Thank you for dedicating your entire day to FLAUNT. Let’s start with a recap of the Laura Harrier ‘origin story.’ You’re from Chicago?

I mainly grew up in Evanston, Illinois, which is the first suburb north of Chicago, but I was born in the city in Lincoln Park. We moved to Evanston when I was 5, and I lived there until I moved to New York when I was 17. I had gotten into NYU early decision, which was at the beginning of my senior year of high school, and because I was already modeling, and I was in New York a lot already, traveling for work, I somehow convinced my parents to let me leave high school a semester early and move to New York. I was like, ‘I’m going to be there eventually in a year, so I might as well go now.’ Now thinking back, it’s crazy that I was there so young and on my own like that.

What did you study at NYU?

I didn’t end up going to NYU [laughs]. I deferred, and then I was so busy working, I never quite made it. I was enrolled in New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I wanted to study Art History with the aim to eventually maybe work in a gallery... I did not expect to be doing this. I thought I would be curating art shows at a museum or something like that.

Life has many chapters...Perhaps you still have time to do that? 

I would love to do that later in life…Things just took a different trajectory.

And what a trajectory that has been—academia and the art world’s loss has been the entertainment industry and red-carpet’s gain. What would you consider your ‘big break’ into acting—what happened that got you here?

I was working as a model—I was very bored as a model. I also wasn’t—it was just a different time, too. Girls that looked like me were not on the cover of Vogue. Fashion is just more cool and inclusive and interesting, I honestly think now. But this was 2008, 2009 and literally, it was just like...skinny white Russian girls. I was pigeonholed into a very commercial, very catalog trajectory- which I was not interested in. Then I found acting. I would always end up booking commercials, and being on set I was like: I actually think I like this. So then I enrolled full-time in acting school. I went to the William Esper Studio in New York. 

LOEWE top and shorts and BEVZA shoes.


Founded in 1965, the illustrious alumni of William Esper include actors as diverse as Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Tra-cee Ellis Ross, Paul Sorvino, Larry David(!) and Kim Basinger. Harrier is listed now too. She shares, “I guess my big break was in my final year there, when Steve McQueen cast me in a project that he was doing for HBO at the time, which was crazy because I was literally still at school. And that was my first job.” This was the acclaimed British-Caribbean filmmaker’s Codes of Conduct, and although it never aired, it gave Harrier primary experiences of acting-as-art form she will never forget. 

What was it like working with Steve McQueen—he’s not just ‘a director,’ he’s an amazing artist.

He really is. It was such an incredible education. It set the bar really high for everything that was to follow working as an actor, I have to say! [laughs]. Because you walk onto other sets, and it’s very different to walking onto set with Steve McQueen. He’s so brilliant, he’s such an artist. He’s so serious, just the way his mind works and how he sees the world, it was just such a blessing to work with him at the earliest point in my career. I feel that so many lessons I learned from him I was able to take on. And I just saw him recently, for the first time since we worked together, which was so nice.

This was after 12 Years a Slave?

Yes, he had just won [the Oscar] for 12 Years a Slave. And then this was right after that. Everything he does just makes you think and has such a deeper meaning.

And that brings us neatly to White Men Can’t Jump. In its own particular way, the 90s White Men Can’t Jump also dealt with some serious racial and social issues...And that OG pairing of Woody and Wesley...What are your thoughts on the original vs the update?

I mean, Woody and Wesley are just so iconic in that movie. I think at the time it was really groundbreaking, for sure. It did deal with a lot of racial stuff in a ‘semi-lighthearted’ way. And I just love that cast; I love Rosie Perez, I think she’s such an icon too. And so jumping into it now, in a new retelling, the way they’ve done it, it just feels very modern, and of our time. It’s more about these two guys trying to find out their path in life, as opposed to racial politics. Given the world we live in, obviously, that’s an important subject, but today, there is nothing groundbreaking about a white guy and a black guy being friends, right? That’s not crazy, at all. I really think our movie is more about them discovering themselves and finding their paths in life. And for my character Tatiana, figuring out what she wants, and how to go out on her own independently, without dragging this man along behind her. 

What have you learned about basketball? Do you like basketball? Sports?

I don’t care so much about basketball...There, I said it! [laughs] I had a time in my life that was that, I’m not interested anymore. [Perhaps it’s pertinent to note here that Harrier dated Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors for two years from 2018]. I do appreciate sports, I will say that. I grew up in a very sports-centered family. I have a brother, I have a bunch of cousins, I have a Dad who is very much into sports. So it’s definitely something I love and appreciate. But for me, it’s not something I personally... I didn’t sign onto this movie being like, ‘Oh yeah, a basketball movie.’ I signed up for this movie because I loved the original, and wanted to work with the people involved in that. That was more my thought process.

But you had fun?

I really had so much fun. It was one of those shoots that just felt like fun. It was summer in LA...Jack and I got along great, the crew was amazing, just like a really good vibe on set. Which I feel is very—not that it’s rare, but you know, the process of making movies can be really hard work. Just showing up to work every day, it was just chill and enjoyable and fun, that was a really nice experience.

I read that this is Jack Harlow’s first-ever acting job. How did he do?

He did great. I was really impressed with him, honestly. He took it really seriously. He really worked on it; I could see his growth as an actor over the course of the shoot. And he’s just so naturally charismatic and charming, that he brought so much of himself to the character, that it felt really authentic.



White Men Can’t Jump is truly an LA story—the original was groundbreaking in that it showed the reality of all the different districts—Venice when it was Muscle Beach, you even see the roller-blading guitar guy Harry Perry; Watts, East LA. It’s a time-capsule portrait of the city seen at street–and hoop–level. “That was actually cool about this too,” says Harrier. “It is a very LA movie, and we’re in so many different neighborhoods. I got to see so many different sides of LA shooting this. Places that, even though I’ve lived here for the past five years, I’d never been to.” Harrier’s own neighborhood has been until recently Whitley Heights, an exclusive 1920s Mediterranean enclave that has sheltered luminaries from Rudolph Valentino, media magnate W.R. Hearst’s mistress Marion Davies and Gloria Swanson. Harrier tells me she has just sold a home “built in 1922 for a silent movie star” which was later lived in for decades by 1950s ‘Bozo the Clown’ actor Vance Colvig Jr. (also the voice of ‘Chopper’ the bulldog on The Yogi Bear Show) and his wife Gini (three-time President of the Whitley Heights Civic Association, who passed in 2015). This is a richly storied postcode with layers of eccentric Old Hollywood trivia attached to every street number. Her choice of locale makes sense given that another of Harrier’s recent hits was a starring role in Hollywood via Netflix (2020). Prolific creator Ryan Murphy’s rewrite-the-script limited series drew direct—and sometimes fanciful—inspiration from local history. The real-life character Scotty Bowers became the charming pimp/career manager ‘Ernie,’ (Dylan McDermott), his sex gas station the hub of a town that revolved around fame, money, vice, and blackmail, at the same time exposing much of the inbuilt injustice and prejudice in the industry. Harrier played ‘Camille Washington’ somewhat based on actress Dorothy Dandridge, an ambitious starlet making her way through the Byzantine studio system of the so-called ‘Golden Age.’ The twist is that in Murphy’s reimagining, the audience is presented with an entertaining and wildly revisionary history, where the underdogs get to win. For example, Peg Entwistle’s story, (the tragic blonde who jumped from the ‘H’ of the Hollywood sign in 1932) is transmogrified into ‘Meg,’ a star vehicle for Camille, production of which drives the series forward

What was your research process like for Hollywood? Did you look into all these weird Hollywood deaths and suicides, and all these crazy things that happened then?

I did. Before I started, I didn’t know about Peg Entwistle, or any of this history, especially the dark side. So doing that research process was so interesting. So much of what these women went through as ‘Hollywood starlets’... How they were forced to be on drugs, on uppers and downers, and all the sex... Just super fucking dark. My heart just went out to them so much. And then also what Black women went through on top of it. It just gave me so much newfound admiration and respect for the women that came before me, and the path that they were able to pave. And that they were able to do that so I could be here right now. Truly I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all these women who lived through hell. But also people who are contemporary, it just gave me so much respect for the actresses who I’ve always loved, for the Halle Berrys’, the Nia Longs’, the Angela Bassetts’. I was never really into ‘Hollywood’ lore before that—you know the kind of people that are into ‘old Hollywood?’ That wasn’t me at all. And then reading all of this—I was like, ‘I kinda get it now. It’s actually kind of crazy, all this stuff.’

SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO top, leggings, shoes, and bracelets.


For me, it was moving to ‘actual Hollywood,’ (the part of Whitley Heights nearer the boulevard that I like to call ‘Whitley Lows’) that made me interested in ‘legendary Hollywood.’ Before that, I just didn’t connect to the white-washed, Marilyn Monroe version at all. But then you live here and you understand that there was so much more to ‘Hollywood’ below the surface, and it’s worth your attention. 

The actor agrees, “Exactly, worth learning about, and having those stories be told. And that’s why as a show, I think Hollywood was so cool.”

Murphy’s particular version of the ‘Hollywood ending’ delivers poetic justice as well as plot closure for all. Your character Camille gets her moment of triumph in the end when she wins the Oscar at the fictionalized 1948 Academy Awards ceremony. She says, “Yes, I love that for her. I wish that’s how it really happened for Dorothy Dandridge, you know?”

Another boundary-breaking work Harrier was an integral part of isBlacKkKlansman (2018), a sharp social critique from everyone’s favorite American auteur, Spike Lee. The film tells the story of the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, Ron Stallworth, (John David Washington) who infiltrates and joins the local KKK chapter in an intricate sting operation. Harrier was tasked to fill the shoes of 1970s student activist ‘Patrice Dumas,’ a conflation of real-life freedom fighters like Angela Davis and Kathleen Cleaver.

What was it like to be chosen to be such an important part of BlacKkKlansman?

That was the most life-changing experience for me. The most. Up there with Spiderman, which was one too, but this changed my life in a completely different sense. Spike Lee seeing you and believing in you, and wanting to have you be part of his work and his art was incredible. I loved Spike. And it’s a real story and such a crazy story. Ron Stallworth is such an interesting guy—he’s like a nice, normal man. I even got to see his real KKK membership card—he still carries it in his wallet. When I met him, he was like, ‘Here it is, in my wallet.’ He was a card-carrying member.

And he still is, technically! But then you get to the end of Ron Stallworth’s memoir, or the film, and you find out that all the work he did with this very dangerous subterfuge operation—in the end, it was all repressed, erased by the ‘authorities.’ It’s excruciating. This was a very different historical time. What do you feel is the place of activism in today’s world? Are you an activist?

I wouldn’t call myself ‘an activist’—I would say that I am political and maybe an activist in terms of being a Black woman who lives in America. And I think that just us existing and thriving is activism in itself, in a society that doesn’t want that for us in any way. I feel very wary of calling myself an activist when there are so many people who are actually out there doing such important work. I think I feel that I have a duty as a public person to speak on certain issues, but I wouldn’t want to take away work from people who are actually out there changing policy. I don’t want to be a ‘celebrity activist.’

I think that your activism, your work, and the choice of films you’ve done, which all get the message across pretty strongly.

Yes, and that’s where I would like to center my energy, in making work that people can resonate with, or that can help change a few people’s minds. Putting that activism into the work I think is my personal journey. But it’s different for everybody.

SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO top, leggings, shoes, and bracelets.


The day after I speak to Harrier, Harry Belafonte, who gives an indelible performance in BlacKkKlansman, passes away. Belafonte smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his movies —such as Carmen Jones (1954) with Dorothy Dandridge—as well as his music and was a stalwart leader in the Civil Rights movement. His scene—in which his elder character recounts witnessing a lynching as a boy—is based on real accounts of the 1916 “Waco Horror.” I am reminded just how much a film like BlacKkKlansman can deliver messages to the future so strongly that they can never be forgotten. Lee sums it up himself in one of the film’s first title cards: “Based upon some fo’ real, fo’ real sh*t.” In response, Harrier posts an image from the scene of Belafonte resplendent in the ‘Huey Newton’ wide wicker chair to her social media, a place that I had already been spending a bit of time in the run-up to speaking to her.

The theme of this magazine edition is ‘Critical Mass,’ and is themed around music’s release. I see that you like to plug your phone in and DJ a house party on occasion…

Who told you that? [She laughs].

...Your Instagram. [In a recent post, a visibly plugged-inHarrier shakes her slinky bob DJing Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” disco remix while a friend yells out ‘put the headphones on!’ Her 1.1 million followers shared themoment]. So what would be a favorite tune to play to make a party go wild?

That’s such a hard question. I will say that I do have a tendency to do that. I’m not shy of the aux cord. But it really has to be like, ‘in the moment,’ you know? My tastes are so varied and really go across all genres and eras. You have to read the room. You have to know what the vibe is. You have to know where you’re at. There isn’t like one song for every occasion. Right?

When it’s really late and it seems like it might end, it’s still fun but there’s still people there, my go-to is to ask the DJ to put on something by Nirvana. A few ‘dddnn dddnn nrrrs’ in, people usually just go bananas.

That’s so funny. Recently I’ve been doing all those 90’s tracks, like, what’s the word for that—it’s all Black women singers, over techno? Like Robin S ‘Show Me Love.’ That whole vibe. What would you call that—you know what I mean, right?


Even though similar tunes to the 1993 hit she mentions immediately come to mind—Cece Peniston’s “Finally,” “Ride on Time” by Black Box, or “Gypsy Woman” by Crystal Waters—I can’t put my finger on the name of the genre either. Looking it up, songs like this apparently come under ‘house/dance/pop-soul’—but are most commonly described as ‘goddamn bangers’ in the music forum user-comments I uncover. That’s been a feature of a lot of the party music recently. “I’m also a big dance hall fan,” says Harrier, “so I also like to play a lot of Jamaican dance hall, that’s always really good for the party, that’ll get everybody dancing.” 

Continuing on the music theme, I tell Harrier about the current exhibition at MOCA Geffen Downtown LA, a 100% immersive installation from legendary techno DJ Carl Craig.

It’s like a rave, you go into this big warehouse space, [MOCA Geffen used to be the LAPD police car storage warehouse] and there’s music playing, there’s lights, and just you. Like you just got the address of a rave in Berlin, you’ve gone up the stairs, and you and your friends get inside, but not many people are there yet. They’re going to have ‘sessions’ over the next few months.

So you’re just like in the empty rave? That’s so fun. I’m so into that. I have to go.


That’s if she’s got the time. As well as her many filming commitments, the demands of the fashion world keep her busy too. Currently, Harrier is a muse of Anthony Vaccarello in his role as Creative Director of the latest incarnation of the House of Saint Laurent.

So what’s it like wearing the most divine Anthony Vaccarello Saint Laurent creations?

I am so excited and grateful to be working with them and to be wearing Anthony’s clothes. I just think that nobody is doing it like him. I feel so good, powerful and cool, and sexy in his clothes. It just is always giving everything, giving everything I want it to give. I’m just really excited to know him and to be able to work with him, I’m really excited about the partnership.


At the January YSL menswear show, held in the circular Bourse de Commerce, (the 18th-century structure now housesKering’s François-Henri Pinault’s art collection) Harrier stood out front-row in a sea of black-attired fellow VIP attendees, statuesque in lilac-stretch Saint Laurent that accentuated every curve.

I loved you in the turtleneck purple gown that you wore at the Paris show.

Thank you. I also really loved my YSL that I wore to the Vanity Fair Oscar party, the black column with the fur arms and fur cuffs. He’s so great in the way that he nods to classic Yves Saint Laurent, and you see the inspiration in the designs, but it always feels modern. Also, it’s not taking itself too seriously—it’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek sometimes, but still elevated.

You also get to travel the world with YSL—Paris, Morocco, where the Majorelle Gardens and the Pierre Bergé Museumare, and experience the entire ‘universe’ of it…

I’m not mad. The whole world of it, that’s where I want to live, I want to be in that world. 


Many other mega brands—from Louis Vuitton to Boss, Bulgari to Kenzo to Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty—have also welcomed the lithe Harrier into their worlds.

What are the differences in being asked to become a ‘brand ambassador’ rather than just model for a brand?

It’s very different in that you have autonomy and control over your look. It’s kind of a partnership. I love fashion, and I’ve always loved fashion, and I’ve just been so lucky to have been supported by the fashion community throughout my career as an actress. They go hand in hand for me. I get to work with these incredible artists and wear these beautiful creations. I love playing dress up and I get to do that for a living.



When we speak, the ‘first Monday in May,’ which is now synonymous with Manhattan’s Met Ball, is fast approaching. Harrier’s full glam looks for her previous nights at the museum have always been showstoppers. Last year she went as a guest of H&M rocking a grand gunmetal gray lace-textured ball gown made in collaboration with Victor Glemaud. In 2021, she incandesced in gold slit-to-the-waist Altuzarra pleated lamé, and her bold monochrome 2019 and 2018 looks were custom crafted for her by Louis Vuitton’s Nicholas Ghesquière.

You always look incredible on the red carpet no matter who or what you’re wearing. Are you going to the Met Ball this season?

No, I’m not going this year. But I’ve been to Met the past—four times now? The first time that I went it was just the most surreal feeling. You’re seeing the most insane celebrities you grew up with. Like the first time I went, was the year Madonna performed, so seeing her was wild. I was there the Cher year too. I’m like, ‘I’m just this girl from Chicago, now I’m here standing next to Anna Wintour watching Cher.’ But for me it’s also about seeing my friends, dressing up, doing the whole thing. I’m not complaining.

With that in mind, you’ve been in so many things now, what is it like to be recognized in public?

It takes a while to get used to. It took me a few years to wrap my head around the concept in a logical way, and I still don’t think I’ve gotten used to it. Sometimes people say ‘Hi,’ or they ask me for a photo or something, but I still live a pretty normal life. I can walk down the street by myself, and it’s ok. It’s just those moments when you roll out of the house looking like shit, and then of course, that’s when you get your photo taken. That I could be a little more aware of. But I don’t know. I’m just happy to be working, and that comes along with it.

Would it be accurate to say of you, ‘She keeps her private life private?’

She tries! 

So what’s next?

I asked my publicist if I could tell you earlier...But she said I can’t talk about it yet... But I do have a movie that I’m going to start shooting in the fall that I’m really excited about.


ALAÏA bodysuit and shoes and TIFFANY & CO. earrings.

And with that, our rooftop time together comes to an end. As Harrier departs, off to continue her own multi-layered LA story, I remain on the 13th floor to jot down a few of my immediate thoughts. It’s evident that Laura Harrier’s got it all—looks, talent, and a natural warmth that gives her an edge. That her rise and rise is a consequence of her fresh, wholesome smarts and perceptive sensitivity. While she certainly knows how to strike a pose for the camera, she’s not a ‘diva’ in either attitude or action. Well aware of the dark sides inherent in her chosen profession, she appreciates where she is, and what sacrifices were made before her, and wants to enjoy herself and have fun with it, while also doing everything in her power to advocate for positive change. No matter what roles she takes on, or new directions she decides to explore in the future, she’s always going to shatter whatever ceiling resides above—even if today it’s an ashen layer of marine fog.

ALAÏA bodysuit and shoes and TIFFANY & CO. earrings.

Photographed by Chrisean Rose

Written by Hannah Bhuiya

Styled by Thomas Cristos Kikis

Hair by Miles Jeffries

Makeup by Harold James

Manicurist: Alex Jachno using Dior Vernis

Flaunt Film: Justice Jackson

Photo Assistant: Dylan Catherina

Production Assistant: Mckenna Matus 

Location: Hubble Studio

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Loewe, Ferragamo, Tiffany & Co. , Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello, Bevza, NOIR KEI NINOMIYA, GEORGE TROCHOPOULO, Hannah Bhuiya, Thomas Christos Kikis, Chrisean Rose, Hubble Studios, Laura Harrier, White Men Can't Jump, The Critical Mass Issue