“Music nerd, alien lover, white Goth, hyperemotional being” is how Soko describes her multifaceted self.
In fact, these are the words the French indie-singer turned big-screen actress chose to headline her colorful Instagram account — a testament to the 30-year-old’s quirky personality and knack for flamboyant, retro-romantic dressing.
“I love to be in character, which is also why I act,” says Stéphanie “Soko” Sokolinski, sporting a mélange of ruffled blouse, flouncy skirt, gargantuan platform sandals and eclectic mix of jewelry from the latest go-to names in fashion. “This is Gucci, this is Giamba, Rochas, Pamela Love,” she says pointing to her Victorian-tinged outfit, “put together by a vintage fan — moi,” she giggles, then adds in a husky voice: “I’m like a punk — but I’m very, very healthy.”
She swears she is not much of “a party head” — “I am really very sober, definitely need my eight hours of sleep,” and that this is partly due to her agoraphobia — “a crowd of drunk people looking for hookups until 5 a.m. is like the last thing I want to put myself into.”
Fortunately, Soko has found ways to cheat herself into having fun in big crowds. The singer is a fixture during fashion week, often spotted DJing for big brands — tucked away safely behind her spinning table.
Perhaps the best proof of her affable versatility is her choice of recent acting parts. Soko is promoting “The Stopover,” where she plays a tormented soldier on leave following fierce battle in Afghanistan, as well as “The Dancer,” based on the real life of modern dance pioneer Loïe Fuller, a contemporary of Isadora Duncan, played by Lily-Rose Depp, Johnny Depp’s daughter.
Both films competed in Cannes this year. “The Dancer” is to hit theaters across France on Oct. 28.
Fuller’s expressive dance routines, which involved the frantic swirling of giant dress sleeves carried by her via long, wooden sticks, left Soko as fit as a boxer.
“Stéph [Stéphanie Di Giusto, the film’s director] didn’t want to make it a dance movie made by women with a predominantly female cast, chichi and shit. We were making a portrait of an artist that is a fighter. Nothing else matters. Therefore, she’s training like she’s getting into the ring,” Soko explained.
That meant two hours of daily training “with a straight-up sports coach,” engaging her in running, swimming, weight-lifting, “and like all-around toning, because I needed to have enough muscles and endurance,” which she then topped with five hours of dance per day.
It’s safe to say that Soko is as much of a fighter off the screen.
When she lost her father at the age of five, her mother launched an ambitious plan to divert her daughter’s attention, unknowingly laying the cornerstones to her future career. “My mom wanted me to have distractions, so I did piano lessons, judo, swimming, horseback riding, dancing and theater class. All of it makes sense now because I can use it — even the horseback riding. Stéph is like: ‘You think you can ride a horse?’ and I’m like: ‘Hell, yeah.’”
Using acting as an artistic and somewhat therapeutic act of expression, she admits it’s hard at times to dissociate herself from her roles. “I get so wrapped up in what I’m doing, I‘m very much like Loïe — she is such a hard worker, she has no room for intimacy or personal life, nothing other than her whole heart is devoted to making art and that I feel is what my life is about. Everybody keeps telling me I have to protect myself, but how the f–k do you do that?”
The dark side of her newly gained celebrity status already caught up with her through a much too public breakup from girlfriend Kristen Stewart. Soko says her personal life gets regularly “shattered.” “Everything collapses around me, I can’t answer the phone, I can’t see my friends, it’s so bad, it’s a lonely journey,” she laments.
Thank goodness there is music.
Once her red carpet obligations are over, she wants to go back to her studio in Los Angeles, where she took roots eight years ago. The perfect place for a vegan, she concludes — “you don’t just have green salad and French fries as an option.“
And then there is perhaps a future behind the camera. Soko recently discovered a band called Bleached — “I think I wanna direct a video for them,” she noted, before adding with her disarmingly charming honesty: “I’m also hyperactive.”