Ella Hunt is a face those who pay attention to the party circuit will know. Like many starlets before her, Hunt emerged onto the New York scene earlier this fall and was quickly scooped up by brands, attending Michael Kors’ fashion week dinner, his God’s Love We Deliver party, Chanel’s Tribeca Film Festival luncheon, Town & Country’s Modern Swans bash and was expected at Chanel’s Métiers d’Art show at the Metropolitan Museum on Tuesday night.
The Brit arrived Stateside — Brooklyn Heights, specifically — to film Apple’s upcoming Emily Dickinson series “Dickinson,” in the midst of her breakout fall. She’s the lead of the (perhaps surprisingly) well-reviewed Scottish zombie movie musical “Anna and the Apocalypse,” which opens in wide release in the U.S. on Friday. And though her stint in New York was entered into as a temporary relocation for the Dickinson role, Manhattan seems to be taking to her rather kindly.
“I had only ever been to New York for one day prior to getting this job,” she says. “And then I got this job, I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’m relocating my life to New York in three weeks.'”
Hunt is one of six siblings and was raised in Devon in England. “We describe them in litters: so the first litter that is not with my mum, my dad’s first wife, and they’re a bit older. And then there’s me and my two brothers and I’m in the middle. So I have an older brother who’s 25, and a younger brother who’s 17,” she explains of her family.
Her family is full of artists — her older brother is an artist living in Berlin, and her mother was an actor in her youth before becoming a sculptor. Acting, therefore, was never that out of the realm of possibility.
“Part of being a kid was putting on little productions for my family and friends, and singing around the house,” she says. When she was 11 she was in a school production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” — “three little maids from school are we!” she sings — and though she didn’t know it at the time, ended up in her first audition of sorts.
“I was really hoping I would be cast as one of the three little maids. And I didn’t; I got cast as Katisha, who’s this jilted wife who’s fat and distraught. She’s very funny,” Hunt says. “So I was wearing this fat suit and Japanese wig, and was full on into the character. And just randomly there was a boy in my year whose dad was an agent — I didn’t know this — but he saw me in the play and was like, ‘Ella should give acting a try.’”
She’s spending the fall in New York shooting “Dickinson,” in which she stars as the poet’s close friend Sue Gilbert alongside Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski. “I’m excited by the way that we’re looking at Emily Dickinson,” she says. “I think young people are going to be really captivated by her, because of the way she lived her life. She never got married, her sexuality is kind of undefined as well, she was fluid and I think that’s such a big topic of discussion in today’s world.”
The role is her big foray into American audiences, and it might just make a New Yorker out of her yet.
“It’s terrifying going, ‘OK, I’m moving to New York,’” she says. “But I just had this kind of feeling of ‘I’m 20, I’ve got this job, and let’s just make home there, build a life there.’ So I guess I feel like I’m at the beginning of my life, basically.”
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