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Two talents are heating up the season.

Ruth Wilson

This story first appeared in the June 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Ruth Wilson might have attracted attention playing Jane Eyre in the BBC’s 2006 adaptation of the dark, Victorian novel, but the 27-year-old actress is keen to prove her abilities extend beyond the small screen. In July, Wilson will take on the iconic role of Stella Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at London’s Warehouse Theater. She’ll star alongside Rachel Weisz as Blanche DuBois, and Elliot Cowan, who plays Stanley Kowalski. “It’s such a brutal play, full of passion [and] violence,” says Wilson. “With theater, you have that adrenaline kick — you’ve only got you, your voice and that’s it, so it’s quite scary. But I like scaring myself.”

QUICK STUDY: A former history student, Wilson researches her roles thoroughly. The actress took a road trip around America’s Deep South to prep for the part, taking in South Carolina, Mississippi and New Orleans. “New Orleans is an incredible place. You can understand why Tennessee Williams wrote about it,” says Wilson. “It’s got music coming out of every corner.”

Wilson hasn’t left her television roots behind. The actress will play Queenie in “Small Island,” a BBC adaptation of the Andrea Levy novel set in post-World War II London, which will make its debut on British screens in the fall. She also shot a remake of the Sixties spy show “The Prisoner,” with Sir Ian McKellen and Hayley Atwell. “It’s quite weird,” says Wilson. “We all have numbers rather than names. To some people it will make no sense, to other people it will be some kind of philosophical story.”

BIG PLANS: Frustrated by what she sees as a lack of compelling roles for women, Wilson says she’s working on putting on a film festival for female writers with Atwell and Emma Thompson. “Producers [say] women don’t bring in the money,” says Wilson. “That’s the aim of the festival: for writers to start improving women’s roles. And not to write boring dramas…[but] action movies and genre movies.” The actress also says she plans to direct films of her own at some point. “It’s probably a bit about control, actually,” says Wilson with a laugh. “Wanting to know from start to finish what the hell’s going on.”

— Nina Jones

Read on: Laura Abela (aka L’Aura) talks about her favorite designers>>

Known to her fans as L’Aura, 24-year-old singer and songwriter Laura Abela has released three albums, opened for Ben Harper, REM and Alanis Morissette and is working on her fourth album, due out this fall.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’: L’Aura, who was born in northern Italy, spent two years studying music in California as a teenager, where she perfected her pop sound and picked up new influences. “My experience in America was fundamental,” she explains. “Berkeley opened my mind and spirit to all kinds of genres, and helped me understand that you can like Madonna and appreciate Slayer.”

STRUTTING HER STUFF: L’Aura cites Rei Kawakubo, Alexander McQueen, Martin Margiela, Hussein Chalayan and Helmut Lang among her favorite fashion designers. Her newest discoveries include Luella Bartley and, as she puts it, “the delightful Mulleavy sisters [of Rodarte] — how I would love to wear one of their outfits!”

— Rachel Mascetta


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