From life in plastic to life in diamonds. The Barbie star takes dressing up in natural diamonds to the next level.
Photographed by: AB + DM Styled by: Alexandra Mandelkorn Words by: Leah Faye Cooper
earRINGS ARUNASHI • DRESS ALBERTA FERRETTI
Before Alexandra Shipp talks diamonds, Hollywood, and her role in Greta Gerwig’s hotly anticipated Barbie, she warns that her cat may flash us on Zoom. “I’m sorry [but] it’s her kink,” Shipp says, “and I can’t kink shame my cat, you know what I mean?” The actress and her attention-seeking feline (named Evander Elizabeth Holyfield Shipp as a nod to a bitten ear) are at home in L.A., in an office-slash-music room appointed with shelved books, hanging plants, and a guitar. Born and raised in Phoenix, Shipp moved to L.A. at 17 and landed her first role in 2009’sAlvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. She has since appeared in Straight Outta Compton and Love, Simon, joined the Marvel Universe as Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse, and starred opposite Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick… Boom!. Soon, the world will see Shipp portray Writer Barbie—a part she never envisioned until she read the script. “It just wasn’t what I was expecting for a Barbie movie at all,” she says, adding that when she was asked to audition, she assumed the film was an animated kids movie.
Today—a year after filming wrapped and three weeks before Barbie hits theaters—Shipp’s delight in being part of the film permeates through the screen. As does her newfound penchant for what the zeitgeist has dubbed Barbiecore. Shipp’s eyebrows, which she bleached for her Only Natural Diamonds shoot, are now dyed pink, and she recently painted her living room pink too. This Barbie, who was previously “not that big of a fan” of the color, is baffled. “I don’t know how this happened,” she says. “I think because I was around it so much, I was like, ‘this is actually fab.’” We’d describe our conversation with Shipp—and the diamond jewelry she wore when we photographed her—the same way.
A CLEAR, CLASSIC DIAMOND YOU CAN WEAR WITH ANYTHING, AND IT JUST CLASSES UP THE JOINT.
RINGS CARTIER • NECKLACES ANDREOLI
Only Natural Diamonds: You were down to bleach your eyebrows for your Only Natural Diamonds shoot—no hesitation?
Alexandra Shipp: No hesitation. I was like, “Whatever, let’s play.” I love being wild and creative when it comes to editorial, and even sometimes on the red carpet. That gets me in trouble because my reps will be like, “No one even knew that you were at that event; they didn’t recognize you.” And I’m like, “Well, that’s on them. I’m serving looks.” With movies, I don’t get to choose how I look, so for photo shoots, I get to really dive into being creative with how I present.
OND: Hollywood is so competitive, and you’ve done quite a few movies. Was there a moment in your career when you thought, Okay, I’m doing this, and it’s working out?
AS: I’ve gone through every rollercoaster there is, and it’s still a rollercoaster. After Squeakquel, I was like, “Boom, baby—I’ve made it! Catch me on the red carpet; make me the face of Gucci!” And then I didn’t work for several years and I had to check myself and check my ego, and work two, three jobs at a time and be a live-in nanny. And then I started working, and then I wouldn’t work, and then I’d work a lot, and then the pandemic hit, and then I’m coming back… but we’re in a [writers] strike so I’m not working. I’m always like, “God, you know what you’re doing. If I’m going to work, I’m going to work; if I’m not, I’m not.” I am just as scrappy as I am street-smart, and I will figure it out.
Earrings IPPOLITA • NECKLACE TABAYER • BRACELET ROSARIO NAVIA • RING ENGELBERT FROM BROKEN ENGLISH • DRESS MICHAEL KORS collection
NECKLACEVINTAGE JENNA BLAKE FROM BROKEN ENGLISH • SMILEYMARIA TASH • EARRINGS CARTIER • HAT CAROLINA HERRERA
OND: I think a lot of people can relate to that rollercoaster. What was your experience filming Barbie like?
AS: The entire cast was wonderful, and you don’t always get that in Hollywood. I think it’s a real testament to Greta and the people that she brings into her ether. Ryan [Gosling] is the kindest, most brilliant actor to work with and watch work. Michael Cera is the funniest guy and the sweetest human being on planet earth; I swear, he’s made of cotton candy. Issa [Rae] is so funny and vibrant and full of life, and Kate [McKinnon] is like the most random flavor of ice cream that then becomes your favorite. Then Margot [Robbie] is just wonderful. You’re so enamored by how lovely she is. It’s ridiculous.
OND: What are you most looking forward to about the film coming out?
AS: I’m most excited to see what young girls [and] young kids think. This movie was definitely made with them in mind. Barbie has always been inspirational in a lot of ways because [she] can be and do anything, so I’m excited to see what young kids will pull out of that message. Plus, I’m excited to see the cosplay that comes out of the movie. I’m expecting drag shows to be sickening. I’m expecting everyone to turn out looks on Halloween.
EarringsNIKOS KOULIS • RINGS (L-R)HELLER JEWELERS, ENGELBERT FROM BROKEN ENGLISH • TOP AND PANTS NAEEM KAHN
OND: Did you have Barbies growing up? Do you remember any of the scenarios you put them in?
AS: Oh, for sure. Because my parents were divorced, I had a Barbie trailer at my mom’s and a Barbie house at my dad’s. My trailer Barbies were always on the road. They were off-roading, outdoorsy lesbians, for lack of a Ken. Or, I think I had Kens, but Kens didn’t matter, at least not to me. And then the Barbies at my dad’s were glamazon Barbies who lived in a mansion. I never had the [Barbie house] that had an elevator though. That sucked.
OND: I had the Barbie Ice Cream Shoppe, which I loved. It came with an ice cream maker that you could make real ice cream with.
OND: Dream houses are a big part of Barbie’s world. If you could build a fantastical, Barbie-level dream house, what would be inside of it?
AS: I would want a room to get ready in. Not just a closet or a bathroom with a vanity; I would want a whole glam room where I could just be luxurious and try on faux furs and do my makeup wearing a turban. Very 1950s-movie-star style.
OND:Nice. Barbie is also into cars. Do you have a dream car?
AS: I already bought my dream car. I’ve always been obsessed with vintage Mercedes two-seaters, so after my first X-Men, [which] was my biggest check yet, I was 23 and I was like, “I’ll be working forever, I’ll make all the money, I can spend it.” Looking back, I could have [spent] less, but I found it on Craigslist: a yellow, ’74, 450 SL vintage Mercedes with caramel interior. She breaks down constantly. She’s fabulous, but she doesn’t really run for very long, so I have to make frequent stops. She gets me from A to B though.
NECKLACES AND BRACELET ANDREOLI • RINGS (L-R)CARTIER, DE BEERS • JUMPSUIT CAROLINA HERRERA
NECKLACEVINTAGE JENNA BLAKE FROM BROKEN ENGLISH • RINGS (L-R)CARTIER. HELLER JEWELERS, DE BEERS, NIKOS KOULIS • WATCHES CARTIER • DRESS AND HAT CAROLINA HERRERA
OND: So you bought your dream car—have you bought yourself any dream jewelry? Any diamonds?
AS: I have. I have this pinky ring that has some really tiny [diamond] chips that I love. And then a couple years ago, I got my mom a diamond pendant necklace for Christmas. She loves it. She wears it every day.
OND: What is it about natural diamonds that you find alluring?
AS: I find the mining of diamonds to be so interesting—how they’re mined, who’s mining them, where they’re mining them from. I’m always very conscious of that whenever I’m purchasing or even wearing diamonds on the red carpet. I like to be educated. I also think diamonds represent versatility. A clear, classic diamond you can wear with anything, and it just classes up the joint.
OND: I’m turning 40 this year, and I’m probably going to buy myself a tennis bracelet.
AS: As you should!
OND: I’m going to wear it with everything—when I’m dressed up, but also when I’m in leggings going to the grocery store.
AS: That’s what I’m saying!
I find the mining of diamonds to be so interesting— how they’re mined, who’s mining them, where they’re mining them from
EARRINGSARUNASHI • DRESS ALBERTA FERRETTI
OND: Did any of the pieces from your Only Natural Diamonds shoot really stand out to you?
AS: Yeah. I have my smiley pierced, and I put a [Maria Tash diamond hoop] in. I was like, “This is fab, me having diamonds in my mouth.” I felt so chic. And I liked the [Andreoli] necklaces. Those were so cute. I love when [necklaces] hit just below your neck.
OND: Let’s say you’re walking into a jewelry store, and you can leave with anything you want. What are you leaving with?
AS: It’s funny that you say you’re going to get yourself a tennis bracelet, because I’ve always wanted one. There’s just something so beautiful and clean about them. I personally would feel uncomfortable if someone else bought me a tennis bracelet, but if I bought myself a tennis bracelet, I would feel like it was a piece of success. So I’d either leave with a bracelet or a necklace. Do they call them tennis necklaces?
OND: They do.
AS: Okay, yeah, I would be walking out with one of those.
Other projects Shipp has recently added to her resume include Anything But You, a romantic comedy starring Sydney Sweeny, and The Good Half with Nick Jonas, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.
Days after our conversation, Shipp appeared on the red carpet for the Los Angeles premiere of Barbie. Her look—a cream Miu Miu gown marked by a bralette-exposing plunging neckline and cascading crystal beadwork—was styled by Alexandra Mandelkorn, who also styled Shipp’s Only Natural Diamonds shoot. “I’ve worked with a lot of stylists in my day, and she is by far one of the most talented people I’ve ever come across,” Shipp says. “She finds who you are and she helps you bring that to life.” There was one element of Shipp’s premiere look essential to achieving that: white gold Dauphin earrings bedecked with natural diamonds.
Photographer: AB + DM Creative Director: Lizzy Oppenheimer Stylist: Alexandra Mandelkorn Hair: Larry Sims Makeup: Dana Delaney Manicurist: Natalie Minerva Bookings Editor: Glynis Costin Creative Production: Petty Cash Production Photo Assistants: Alejandro Sosa, Konstantin Podprugin Digital Tech: Josh Fogel Fashion Assistant: Drew Cockrell