IN CONVERSATION WITH OLIVIA LONSDALE
Words by Anano Shalamberidze
Olivia Lonsdale is a Dutch-English actress and director who first appeared in the critically acclaimed film PRINCE directed by Sam de Jong. Now also a part of the CHANEL family, she plans on being involved with the fashion scene through her passion of storytelling. Olivia will make a directorial debut with her short film this summer. Numéro had a chat with our digital cover star about her past endeavours, present projects and future aspirations.
We meet at Hoxton. We chat about the weather. It’s never this sunny in Amsterdam. We exchange thrift store recommendations. We order matcha. Do I want to share fries? We order fries too. We start talking and a previously agreed upon 20-minute conversation turns into an hour-long chat about Olivia’s art, future plans, what it’s like to be a woman in the industry, and how dwelling on others’ opinions has an effect on our creative growth.
Olivia always wanted to act but, really, she fell into it accidentally at 18. An invitation from a friend’s boyfriend to audition for a minor role marked her debut in the critically acclaimed film “Prince”. From that moment onward, the universe conspired to propel Olivia’s star to new heights.
Although faced with the rejection from drama school not once, but twice, Olivia’s spirit remained unyielding. Rather than succumbing to disappointment, she embraced it as a catalyst to pursue her dreams with even greater fervour, saying yes to every interesting opportunity and maintaining a “why not” mindset. In a whimsical twist of fate, she found herself involved in the quirky world of the infamous “Drank & Drugs” music video, which unexpectedly catapulted her into the spotlight.
As Olivia’s artistic voyage continued to unfold, her passion for storytelling expanded beyond acting, drawing her toward the realm of screenwriting. Inspired by the teachers of great cinema, like Agnes Varda, Chantal Akerman and more recently Greta Gerwig, and driven by a yearning to leave her creative imprint on the world, she delved into the craft, nurturing her innate talent. This quest for knowledge led her to Amsterdam’s Script Academy, where she currently finds herself in her second year, honing her directorial skills.
“As a kid, I didn’t know you could do what I’m doing now. One lesson I would give my younger self and young women everywhere: say IT out loud! No one knows you want to direct or act or write if you don’t say it out loud. Next time, someone might think of you for a project. Don’t wait to become lucky.”
The culmination of her artistic aspirations arrives in the form of her directorial debut, a powerful short film exploring the enigmatic realm of mother-daughter relationships. Olivia’s curiosity and fascination with the intricate dynamics of this profound bond became the driving force behind her film. With a twinkle in her eye, she muses, “I’ve always had this huge admiration, but also confusion about a mother-daughter relationship. The intertwining threads of friendship, intimacy, and distance are so interesting that I needed to explore them.”
Fashion also holds a special place in Olivia’s heart. She passionately describes the allure of vintage fashion, relishing what she fondly dubs as “granny chic” style. As if scripted by fate itself, the House of Chanel gracefully intersected Olivia’s path – an encounter that she greets with a resounding declaration that it was meant to be.
When prompted to think about what she would say to her younger self, Olivia’s playful demeanor transforms into one of profound contemplation. Her words carry weight as she urges her younger self – but also young women everywhere – to stop listening to others’ opinions. “The world has so much to offer; so take it, go for it, don’t let anyone hold you back. I am now directing, writing, and acting and I wish I had known there were all these options, especially for women. As a kid, I didn’t know you could do what I’m doing now. One lesson I would give her and young women everywhere: say IT out loud! No one knows you want to direct or act or write if you don’t say it out loud. Next time, someone might think of you for a project. Don’t wait to become lucky.”
Her dream role? Probably a Bond girl. Actually, never mind. She wants to portray Bond himself.
What she also dreams of is seeing more female scriptwriters and directors. So she’s starting with herself.
photography + fashion + video GINO GURRIERI
hair + makeup KATHINKA GERNANT
photography assistance SIMONE FRANK
talent OLIVIA LONSDALE
all fashion CHANEL
thank you SOHO HOUSE AMSTERDAM
Interview ANANO SHALAMBERIDZE