There are few mediums that Chinese artist Yi Zhou hasn’t worked in. Her broad oeuvre includes digital animation, drawings, paintings and sculptures. She’s also tackled 3-D video, which was part of Zhou’s recent solo show called “Hegemony or Survival” at Shanghai’s Contrasts Gallery. Up next, she will exhibit sculptures, drawings and two films as part of “The Earbridge and The Greatness,” which runs at the Contrasts Gallery from June 19 through July 29. (Influential Italian conductor Ennio Morricone composed music for “The Greatness,” and the lead in “The Ear” is played by Pharrell Williams.) Then, from June 24, Zhou will participate in the “Giorni Felici” exhibition in Milan’s Fondazione Testori, where she will show “My Heart Laid Bare,” featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg. This fall, Zhou’s solo “I Am Your Simulacrum” will open in London’s 20 Hoxton Square, and she will take part in the Shanghai Biennale, which starts Oct. 23.
But Zhou isn’t hot just because of all the high-profile projects she’s lined up. She’s also become a front-row fixture at shows like Chanel and Alexis Mabille. — Jennifer Weil
“Where I grew up, I didn’t think being a movie star was an option,” says 19-year-old Louisville, Ken., native, Jennifer Lawrence. “My story is not a good one because it’s a freak of nature story, it almost never happens.”
Lawrence was 14 and on spring break in New York City when a talent scout took her picture and sent it to several agencies. “By the end of the summer, I was being flown to L.A. for screen tests,” she says. “I think my ability to imitate people’s gestures and voices must have come in handy.”
In June, she’ll be on the big screen playing an Ozark mountain girl who journeys though dangerous terrain to find her missing father in “Winter’s Bone.” Earlier this year, the film won the Sundance Grand Jury prize and Lawrence’s performance won over the hearts of critics. “It sounds weird to say, but I wasn’t good at field hockey or math or anything, and all of a sudden people are telling me I’m incredible,” she says. “That was when realized that I was special.”
If she seems too much like an overnight success, consider she’s been collecting raves for her work for the last two years. In 2008, Lawrence took home the Venice Film Festival’s Marcello Mastroianni award for her appearance in “The Burning Plain,” and that same year nabbed the Los Angeles Film Festival’s Outstanding Performance prize for her role as a girl who grows up in a brothel in Lori Petty’s indie “The Poker House.”
Steady commercial jobs and her regular role on “The Bill Engvall Show” enabled her to “not make crappy movies I hated to pay the rent,” she says.
Clearly she has set the bar high for future projects. Lawrence’s next film, “The Beaver,” out this fall, stars Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, who also directed the movie. “Jodie’s an incredible director and one of the smartest women I’ve ever met,” Lawrence says. “I’ve never heard buzz on a set before, but we knew it was something incredible. It’s going to be big.” Up next is the indie drama “Truckstop” costarring Jackson Rathbone, in which Lawrence plays a troubled prostitute.
No, she’ll probably never be pigeonholed in poofy rom-com characters. So what does Lawrence see as the key to nailing her gritty characters? “Understanding, listening and obedience,” she says. “If you have those, you are pretty much set.” — Marcy Medina
After watching Delphine Chanéac play a half-animal, half-human heroine in the new science-fiction thriller “Splice,” it’s a relief to meet the French actress in the flesh, sans tail and creepy webbed feet. But her body, buff for the role, is still reverting to its natural lithe shape. “I got so strong I couldn’t get into my favorite Karl Lagerfeld dress,” Chanéac says, nursing a coffee and cigarette at the Hotel Amour in Paris.
For the role, the 31-year-old had to transform into a new life form created by two young genetic researchers (played by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) when one of their lab experiments goes wrong. Hence the prosthetic tail and webbed feet and the need to shave her head every morning. To fight off the chill during the shoot in Canada, Chanéac bought a collection of hats. They ended up serving a dual purpose, she says, and made her “look a bit more feminine.”
Fortunately, she’ll be a bit more recognizable in her next film, a German project titled “The Big Black” in which she plays Eve, a woman whose father is mayor of a town where the population is decimated by a virus. And this summer she starts filming a Vincent Giovanni comedy in which she plays a veterinarian.
Somewhere in between all this, the hyperproductive actress has managed to publish two novels and start work on her first music album. Variety is just the way she prefers things. Or as she puts it, “I like life to surprise me.” — Chantal Goupil
When Brie Larson landed a plum part on “The United States of Tara,” the sophomore Showtime series created by Steven Spielberg and written by Diablo Cody, she also won the chance to work with her favorite actress, Toni Collette. “When you’re trying to be an actress, you can’t be too picky, you just hope that it comes out in the wash, so I feel incredibly lucky,” says the 20-year-old Sacramento native.
Playing the title character’s rebellious daughter Kate has been “a huge confidence booster” for Larson, who started working at age nine after being the youngest student (at age seven) accepted to San Francisco’s Actors Conservatory Theater. She’s since appeared in the indie films “Tanner Hall,” codirected by Tatiana von Furstenberg and Francesca Gregorini, and Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg.”
This summer she appears in the comic book comedy “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” starring Michael Cera. Larson plays his ex, rock star Envy Adams. “I’m your worst nightmare,” she says with a laugh. “Imagine trying to get over someone and their face is plastered all over every billboard and TV screen.” She also just wrapped the dark comedy “East Fifth Bliss,” in which she plays Michael C. Hall’s girlfriend, whom, to his dismay, he finds out is the daughter of his best friend from high school. “It makes you relook at age difference, and the idea that something can be so wrong and so good at the same time,” she says. Larson’s next job will be shooting the Judd Apatow-produced comedy “Bridesmaids” with Kristen Wiig in Las Vegas.
It’s a long way from her first job doing mock commercials for “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Still, Larson has had her ups and downs, and on several occasions has left acting to attend college.
“I always end up coming back to acting, but it’s important to remember what regular life is about. The second you are just an actor, you are not doing your job anymore. You always have to be evolving and learning new things,” she says, noting that hobbies — from ballet to needlepoint to violin — keep her balanced. She also credits her mother, a chiropractor, and her boyfriend, actor John Patrick Amedori, with keeping her grounded — at least when she’s home in Los Angeles. — Marcy Medina
It takes a certain amount of moxie to share the screen with an Oscar winner who doesn’t seem to willingly suffer shrinking violets. And yet Alba Rohrwacher’s subtle turn as Tilda Swinton’s daughter in the new film “Io Sono l’Amore (I Am Love),” in theaters in June, is no less a match for Swinton’s formidable skill.
The plot centers around the Recchi family, members of Milanese aristocracy who are each struggling with expectations, secrets and, ultimately, tragedy. Rohrwacher plays Elisabetta, a young artist who reveals to her Russian-born mother Emma (Swinton) that she is a lesbian, which inspires Emma to seek her own independence from the constraints of a wealthy, patriarchal clan. “Elisabetta’s steps in her quest for freedom have a strong impact on the family, and it’s almost as if her moves subtly anticipate what happens later to her mother in a more explosive way,” says Rohrwacher.
Director Luca Guadagnino created Emma with Rohrwacher in mind, and already, Daily Variety has praised Rohrwacher’s “exceptional performance” and “ideal casting.” A critic at the Italian premiere of the film in March said her work in the final scene “was worth the whole movie.” (It’s not the first time the 31-year-old’s talent has been recognized. Her work in more than a dozen films earned her a Shooting Star award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008 and she’s also won two prestigious Italian David di Donatello prizes.)
Enhancing Rohrwacher’s on-screen presence is the project’s strong use of costume. Delfina Delettrez Fendi, whose mother Silvia Venturini Fendi coproduced the movie, designed a necklace for Elisabetta that is adorned with two eyes. “[It is] almost a symbol of the character’s prescience into what will happen,” Rohrwacher says. All the men in the family wear Fendi suits, while Swinton dons a wardrobe designed exclusively by Raf Simons.
Up next, the German-Italian Rohrwacher will be seen opposite another commanding actress when she takes the lead in “The Solitude of Prime Numbers,” a film due out later this year that was adapted from Paolo Giordano’s acclaimed book of the same name and also stars Isabella Rossellini. — Luisa Zargani
Twenty-seven-year-old DJ, producer and singer Cooly G, aka Merissa Campbell, has been making waves in the U.K.’s otherwise male-dominated dubstep scene. But her laid-back, syncopated beats and dreamy vocals combine to make her version of the music a more danceable off-shoot that weaves in elements of house music, Latin American influences and Nineties rave. “I don’t think about the boys’ egos — I just do my thing,” says Campbell, who is gearing up for performances at the Sonar music festival in Barcelona which starts June 16 and Glastonbury in Somerset, England, which kicks off June 23. Later this summer she’ll tour the U.S.
Campbell dresses to stand out, too, rather than blend in with the notoriously dressed-down dubstep crowd, whom she describes as wearing “grungy ass jeans and a random T-shirt.” “I like to look dramatic,” says the musician, who has worn London label Rome Pires’ Pop-Art inspired dresses printed with Lichtenstein-like women. “[But] the next day I could wear tracksuit trousers with an exclusive T-shirt from Berlin,” she adds. Nike has also given her plenty of “oneaways” — sneakers in one-off colorways.
While she’s been teaching music production for a decade, Campbell was signed last year to Hyperdub records — home of the Mercury Music Prize nominated producer, Burial — mere days after she posted her track “Love Dub” on her MySpace page. “It’s gone automatic overnight,” she says.
Campbell’s DJ-ing has taken her to locales as diverse as Mexico City — where she performed as part of a trip with the U.K.’s British Council to foster relationships between musicians in Latin America and the U.K. — to Italy and Austria. “Some of the places you don’t get to see [anything] — you’re probably mashed up from the show last night,” says Campbell, adding that there are some perks. “In Austria we had a day when they booked us massages and took us to the top of a mountain for a cup of tea,” she says laughing.
Her next big project is a two-track EP called Phat Si/Up in My Head that drops in August and an album planned for early 2011. “It’s not just going to be beats — it’s going to be a story, too,” Campbell says.
Campbell’s own story, however, is more than just music. She’s also a single mother to her three-year-old son. “I think about my son first,” says Campbell. “He tries to make music — he’s well into it.” —Nina Jones