Women in Motion: Lydia Hearst

Photography by: Martina Tolot

As a young girl, Lydia Hearst grew up fascinated by the mystifying energy created by the entertainment industry. After being unexpectedly discovered and photographed by Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue, Lydia onset her career as a renowned fashion model and respected actress, making the young girl she once was proud. While continuously working in the entertainment industry for several years, Lydia found herself captivated by the dramatics of horror films; essentially finding her professional niche. Starring in Lifetime’s, Psycho Sister-in-Law, which re-airs September 19th, Lydia chatted with the NOEMI team regarding the dynamic of the psychological thriller, upcoming projects that she’s particularly excited about, and advice she has for young actors looking to break into the industry. 

Megan Morgante: Did anything/anyone, in particular, inspire you to pursue acting? And, can you give an overview of your past in the entertainment industry and how it led you to where you are now?

Lydia Hearst: I have always been drawn to the world of entertainment and self-expression. As a little girl, I remember watching my mom walk the catwalk for Thierry Mugler and act in various John Waters films. It all seemed so magical and fantastic - I just knew that it was a world I wanted to be a part of. In 2004, my life instantly changed when I was discovered and photographed for the cover of Italian Vogue by Steven Meisel. Working in fashion and entertainment has allowed me to travel the world and work with some of the most iconic designers and photographers to date. 

I dreamt of being an actress because I love the challenge and creative process of bringing a character to life on screen; perhaps that’s why I’ve been immensely successful in my modeling career. Modeling is like acting, but in a silent film. I expose my innermost emotions so they project clearly into the lens and ultimately through the still photograph.

As both an actress and model, my chameleon-esque face has provided a blank canvas for a range of transformations that are facilitated by my personality; where on set I strive to achieve fluidity and personify the vision the directors and photographers have envisioned for the project. If you are actively engaged in life as an individual, I have found that you're more able to draw from yourself. When you’re an actor you have a script, but you have to make yourself into the character, live the part, own the words, and breathe life into the role. Acting itself is a form of play-pretend and make-believe, and the truly effective performances are ones that are grounded in intimate, emotional honesty. 

Photography by: Martina Tolot

MM: Your most recent project, Psycho Sister-in-Law, re-airs September 19th on Lifetime, congratulations! Can you give a quick synopsis of the film? And, what can we expect to see from your character, Zara, in this film?

LH: Thank you! Yes. A general rule for these types of films is that you’re either the person who lives or the psycho. Zara Downes is the estranged, half-sister to Nick (Brando Eaton) who reappears after the death of their father. But, things are not always as they seem when family and a fortune are involved. With this movie and film, you can expect the unexpected. And, it was so much fun to make!

MM: You also recently starred in the psychological thriller, The Haunting of Sharon Tate, alongside Hillary Duff. What was your experience like working on this project?

LH: We all worked extremely hard and put a lot of love, effort, and care into portraying these people and telling this story. The film is both psychological and spiritual. The plot is inspired by an actual quote from Tate, from an interview published a year before her death in Fate magazine, wherein she reveals having dreams about ghosts haunting her house and foreseeing her own death at the hands of a satanic cult. Working with Hilary, in particular, was so wonderful. She is such a lovely person, the scenes where our characters bonded were some of the most fun and natural to film.

MM: How did you prepare for the role of Abigail Folger?

LH: Portraying Abigail Folger was partly anthropological. Having the opportunity to play someone who is real, and tell a story like that is a truly humbling experience. The film was incredible to be a part of and not only broadened me as a human being but stretched me as an actor.

Photography by: Martina Tolot

MM: Looking at your past projects, we’ve noticed that you tend to gravitate towards the horror and thriller genres. What typically draws you to pursue these roles?

LH: It’s no secret that my favorite genre of film is, without a shadow of a doubt, horror. And with acting, every project and every role is a new adventure. I love to challenge myself, that’s a huge part of what draws me to a character. 

MM: Is there anything, in particular, you look for when reading new scripts? 

LH: With being an actor, you have the opportunity to tell stories that can inspire, educate, and heal. 

MM: Do you have any new or upcoming projects that you’re particularly excited about?

LH: I just wrapped production on a film called, Root Letter. It’s an American film adaptation based on the widely successful Japanese video game developed by Kadokawa Games, Root Letter. I play the role of Karen, a volatile and unstable mother who is emotionally tortured and desperately addicted to heroin.

During the quarantine, I have also done a bit of voice-over work. I just completed two characters on a short, animated series called Shu Girl, which follows a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole and lands in an alternate reality world where she embarks on a wild adventure created by Roberto Mitrotti. I’ve also voiced two characters for, The Shana Chronicles: Sympathy For The Devil, which is a new scripted podcast series that is a mash-up of revisionist music folklore, 70’s era conspiracy thriller, and classic graphic novel mystery created by K. Asher Levin & Zack Imbrogno.

Currently, I am in pre-production on a film where I am co-executive producing as well as acting alongside Malin Akerman in a film called, With Teeth. It’s a unique and modern reimagining of the classic vampire lore. Hopefully, once we get a better idea of how productions will be able to safely resume, I can elaborate more on this film as we are currently in pre-production with the hopes of shooting sometime this fall.

Photography by: Martina Tolot

MM: What advice would you give younger actors who are looking to break into the industry?

LH: 1) Study the craft. We all have great instincts, but they do need to be honed.

2) Audition, audition, audition. Don’t try to get the job when auditioning, just go into the room, have some fun, and do your version of the part. Just focus on doing good, solid work, and do it for yourself.

3) Always be patient and consistent.

4) And finally, get used to rejection.

MM: Do you have any hobbies you enjoy partaking in when you’re not acting? 

LH: I love to travel and have adventures! Whenever I am traveling and not working, I’m playing my Nintendo Switch – I am obsessed! I am currently deep into my Animal Crossing game, and some of my other favorites being: Zelda BOTW, Skyrim, Super Mario Odyssey, Cat Quest, The Witcher, Layers of Fear, Super Mario Deluxe U, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Luigi’s Mansion3 - just to name a few.

MM: Have you ever experienced any notable challenges throughout your career? 

LH: Life will always have its challenges, and everyone has their own, unique story. But I can gladly say that I got to where I am through hard work, a lot of rejection, and humility; and I’m a firm believer that true humility cannot exist without the desire to work hard and succeed.

MM: What is your biggest accomplishment thus far?

LH: I have been extremely fortunate in my career and I am incredibly grateful for the life and the journey acting has given me so far. Every job and each opportunity has been memorable and helped me to grow as an individual and a performer.

Photography by: Martina Tolot

MM: What would you say your personal style is like?

LH: My personal style is rather eclectic and always changing. I think that I’ve recently become more comfortable with being myself and not trying to fit into whatever mold people have tried to project onto me in the past. Perhaps that comes with a combination of maturity, confidence, and finding someone who truly loves and appreciates me as I am. As far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as bad fashion; it is all a form of self-expression.

MM: Who is your ultimate style icon?

LH: I’m not sure that I have one. I think it’s more important to just be YOU. And the way I see it, so long as you are genuine, comfortable, and confident: anything goes!

Photography by: Martina Tolot

Hair by: Mark Townsend

Makeup by: Francesca Tolot

Styled by: Joseph Cassell Falconer