“I was empowered when I finished school, despite the odds not being in my favor. I threw myself into making myself the best I could be. I found the love in myself, the beauty and for all the beatings and cruel days I had overcome, and I discovered my strength.” Ruby Rose doesn’t fit any conventional mold. What was cause for merciless bullying as a child would become the raison-d’être for her global fame. An already accomplished model and TV host, the twenty-nine year-old Aussie steamed her way into a global phenomenon when she was cast as inmate Stella Carlin in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, which premiered in June of 2015. Rose had long set her eyes on the role. “It was very surreal. I had prayed and meditated on it and hoped so much to get the role but it wasn’t until I was on set it really hit me that my dream had come true.” Her acting skills are obvious, and she has an aura that fascinates and compels those who span across sexual preferences and gender identities. And, most importantly, she’s proved that it’s okay to exist as your true self, even if it’s outside the box. In that regard she is an idol to those who feel they are a little different. “Just know that you are not alone, and that you are beautiful, and uniquely you. We all have dark days, but the world needs you to keep fighting for your love and to feel support from me and every other out gay or trans person you may see in the media. We admire your strength as you often do ours.”
Read the full exclusive interview with actress Ruby Rose here:
Interview date: June 12, 2015 – for The Untitled Magazine #GirlPower Issue – Print Edition
The Untitled Magazine: Let’s begin with a little background. From what I’ve read, you moved around a ton when you were little, and lived in some really exotic places. What are some of your early memories of that?
Ruby Rose: Haha exotic! That’s the first time I think that word has been used to describe rural Victoria and the outskirts of Tasmania and Queensland! But I’ll take it! I had a young mum, and a very determined one at that, we moved around a lot ‘till she found a good university to go to in a small town called Churchill. We stayed there a while then moved to Melbourne and lived in a church parish. I sung in the choir. I remember being very young, and my mum and her boyfriend making me batman wings for my birthday out of cardboard and me wearing them nonstop.
UM: Which of the places you lived were your favorites and why?
RR: I loved the time I lived in Germany for school when I was sixteen. It was an exchange program type thing; I wasn’t actually very good at German, and they chose the top three best students. So I guess that means they chose the top two students and me. They wanted to get me away from the school for a while while I was being bullied.
UM: What was it like to finally settle in Melbourne? Do you consider that home?
RR: I consider Melbourne and Los Angeles both my homes. I could settle in both. Both for different reasons. I do like how Los Angeles has provided me such a new page in my life. However I miss my family of course.
UM: So your career began after coming in second on Girlfriend Model Search. How was that experience for you? Can you tell us about it?
RR: I was at a P!nk concert I was about fifteen, and someone picked me out of the crowd to enter the competition. I was so not down to do it, but eventually my friends were over it, and my non-willingness to get into modeling or even take the offer as a huge compliment, and walked me right up to the desk to fill out the entry form. I guess I just didn’t think it was legit at the time.
UM: It sounds like, while you enjoyed being a model, you found you were more passionate about your career as a TV personality, after you became an MTV VJ. Can you tell us about modeling versus VJ-ing with regards to creative expression?
RR: I wasn’t fulfilled as a model; I guess I wasn’t a very good one. I am confident in front of the camera, I love fashion and art but the other side of it just rubs me the wrong way. I don’t like being told I’m too short, or too boy like, or too fat or that my tattoos are ugly by people in suits who forget they are talking to a human being. I don’t know how much longer I would have done it for regardless of my swift change and direction to TV. There were some good and fun moments of course, and I learnt a lot. But I don’t think models get treated particularly well, no one seems to care about their overall mental and physical health. It’s a scary world as a kid in that career. TV on the other hand, it’s a kinder less vacuous path.
UM: Eventually you crossed over in acting and filmmaking. Can you tell us about that transition?
RR: I think as you evolve with age you start to want to create more as opposed to just exist within someone else’s creation. TV hosting was fun, and I picked it up fairly organically. I learnt all I could about live TV, auto cue, dealing with people who love being interviewed and those that hate it. I got to really find myself in that role. Then it started to feel like I wasn’t challenging myself when I was getting up and going to work in the morning. Acting was a long time passion of mine, and I knew it would be hard work, but I was ready to put my blood and guts into it. I was ready to be vulnerable and feel things and be scared. All things you fight being when being a presenter. I also wanted to tell some of my own stories and make some of my own art, I’ve picked up so much along the way through the people I’ve met and jobs I’ve worked on I have skills I barely get time to utilize.
UM: What was it like to receive the news that you got cast as a main role on next season of Orange Is The New Black?
RR: It was very surreal, I had prayed and meditated on it and hoped so much to get the role, but it wasn’t until I was on set it really hit me that my dream had come true.
UM: How has it been filming the new season?
RR: It was wonderful. As and actor you couldn’t choose a better show to be able to get stuck into than Orange. The writing is brilliant, the cast are unstoppable, I was in love from day one.
UM: Can you tell us about your role as Stella Carlin?
RR: Stella is an androgynous, charming funny girl, she is Australian and she sets her eyes on piper. Uh oh!
UM: Do you see yourself doing more acting in the future?
RR: Yeah it’s all I’m working on right now. I shot a guest role on a Syfy called Dark Matter and I can’t wait for the next projects!
UM: Can you tell us about your short film you write and produced, “Break Free”? What was the inspiration behind it?
RR: It’s autobiographical; It’s literally a five minute video to explain what gender fluid means to me, and why I have chosen the route to look the way I look versus what many have often commented in how I “should” look and how pretty I “could be”
UM: You are also a musician – can you tell us about your single “Guilty Pleasure”? Do you plan to release any more music in the future?
RR: Right now I’m just focused on acting. Perhaps as a hobby sometime but really acting is a full time job whether your working or not. Studying, auditioning, reading scripts, school.
UM: You got such a unique look! Can you describe some of the things that inspire your personal style?
RR: I’m not sure. I think sort of glam rock, but then that’s only on certain days then I can just be a beach bum or high fashion meets street wear.
UM: You have tons of tattoos! Can you tell us about a few that are particularly meaningful?
RR: They are all meaningful. I have Basquiat [Jean-Michel Basquiat ] on my arm; he has been a huge creative driving force for me. I don’t know why, I felt a connection to his art from a young age, and it’s carried through.
UM: How was it designing your capsule collection with Milk and Honey?
RR: It was great; I’d love to get back into designing. There is nothing quite like seeing someone walking down the street in your clothes. Phoebe [Dahl] and I have designed a range together called Scallywags
UM: How did you and your fiancé, Phoebe, meet?
RR: We met at a BBQ at her house. It was one of those creepy and gross love at first sight things.
UM: What inspired the two of you to create an ethical street-wear line, and what kind of impact are you seeking from it?
RR: She wanted to expand what she already does in fashion, and I wanted to get back into fashion, so we sort of merged our ideas. She wanted to do something edgier and colorful because her range is more beautiful hues and monochromatic. Scallywags is more crazy colored African print.
UM: Are there any other social causes that are close to your heart?
RR: Bullying, mental health, LGBT rights, sex trafficking. Yeah, a few different ones.
UM: You came out when you were very young. Can you describe the challenges you had to overcome in doing this?
RR: I was lucky in many ways because I had a supportive mother and grand parents. The kids at school…not so much and I definitely got crucified for speaking out about my truth. But I still wouldn’t have taken it back. I don’t belong in a closet: no one does.
UM: What helped you recover, both emotionally and physically; from the abuse and bullying you suffered after coming out?
RR: Therapy haha, and healing, being good to myself and my animals. Animals have always been a huge part of my life and my healing process for trauma.
UM: What words of wisdom would you give to young people in the LGBT community who have been or are going through similar struggles?
RR: Just know that you are not alone and that you are beautiful and uniquely you. That we all have dark days, but the world needs them to keep fighting for their love, and to feel support from me and every other out gay or trans person they may see in the media. We admire your strength as you often do ours.
UM: Can you tell us what “Genderfluid” means to you?
RR: It means I’m never really here nor there on the binary gender scale. I’m not a woman; I’m not a man; I’m sort of just a being who floats in and out of female days and male days. I like to think of it as taking the best parts of the two traditional sexes and forming one.
UM: You’ve said before that you consider your mother a role model. Can you tell us how she was a role model to you?
RR: Well she wasn’t the best mum and things were not always great, but she did the best job she possibly could and she did everything for us and our future and survival. It was a lot to put on one person. She grew up to be a beautiful woman who is caring and I’m proud to be her daughter.
UM: Are there any other strong women in your life who you look up to or aspire to emulate?
RR: I’ve always found both Angelina Jolie and Madonna to be for separate reasons very inspiring strong independent women. Meryl Streep is another.
UM: What female actresses have inspired you and why?
RR: I sort of answered this but I guess Angelina, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Mariska Hargitay.
UM: This is the “Girl Power” issue of Untitled. Can you tell us about any personal or professional experiences that have empowered you as a woman?
RR: I was empowered as a woman when I finished school, despite all the odds not being in my favor. I threw myself into making myself the best I could be. I found the love in myself, the beauty and for all the beatings and cruel days I had over come I discovered my strength.
UM: Do you consider yourself a “feminist” and if so what does that mean to you?
RR: Yes I am absolutely a feminist. Fundamentally feminism is about equal rights for men and woman. You don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist, or lesbian, or a bra burner, but you can be all three if you choose! This means equal pay, equal rights in political nature as well as social nature.
UM: If you could change one thing on the planet right now, what would it be?
RR: GMOs and sex trafficking I know you said one… But heck.
UM: What keeps you grounded, in the face of fame?
RR: Fame is a funny thing. I’m twenty-nine; I’m grounded in it now, that doesn’t take any work. When I was nineteen it was a different story, but I am just the same as everyone else except I get the luxury of doing a job many wish to do and that fulfills me in ways I can’t describe. People may recognize me, but it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just a great platform however to share stories and political agendas or campaign for human rights.
UM: What kind of exciting stuff do you have on the horizon that we can look out for?
RR: Hopefully movies!! And more TV. Plus I DJ around the world in my spare time too.
Photography by Dani Brubaker for The Untitled Magazine
The Untitled Magazine would like to note that this interview and images were produced in collaboration with the actress and with the approval of her publicist. We believe in promoting positive images of women and female empowerment. Read more about the #GirlPower Issue here.