Meet Sofia Black-D’Elia, Hollywood’s raven-haired Jersey Girl.
Black and white cotton dress by CÉLINE and black tweed trousers by CHANEL
Taken from the Spring Fashion Issue 15 of Wonderland Magazine:
For better or worse, teens aren’t the most foresighted thinkers. The teens in Project Almanac (opening in the UK on February 6), for instance, have a time machine, and they proceed to screw everything up because of their inability to see beyond the ends of their noses. Doesn’t everyone know that you’re not supposed to touch anything when you time travel?!
Seated in a coffee shop in Los Angeles, Sofia Black-D’Elia, who plays Jessie Pierce, the gutsy cool girl in the band of time travelling teens, claims she had it all planned out as a 14-year-old in suburban New Jersey. Acting, however, wasn’t the goal. “I never ever thought it would be a job,” the now-23-year-old says with a robust Jersey-girl cackle. “Acting, to me, was the same thing as basketball practice. I was never going to be in the WNBA; I was never going to be a professional actor. It was just fun stuff you did after school, and then I would go to Rutgers and become a teacher.”
But an agent noticed Black-D’Elia’s bubbly presence at a local musical theatre school and envisioned bigger things. It wasn’t long before Black-D’Elia was confronted with the biggest choice of her life: going to college or playing the dynamic lesbian Tea Marvelli on the American version of Skins. In fact, the week she received her acceptance letter to Rutgers, she recalls, was the same week the show was picked up by MTV.
“My dad worked so hard his whole life so that his two kids could go to school,” she says about breaking the news to her parents that she’d been offered a real acting job. “He couldn’t wrap his head around it. But, for me, it wasn’t even a question. I was a huge fan of the original show, and I knew that a lot of the kids weren’t actors, it was their first job. I was like, ‘This could be me.’”
That was nearly five years ago. Fast forward, and she has also portrayed the memorably conniving Sage Spence on the last season of Gossip Girl, and she’s set to break out with Project Almanac as well as an upcoming lead part in the CW sci-fi series The Messengers. The series is set after a mysterious object crashes to earth, and in the aftermath, Black-D’Elia’s character, a single mother, is tasked with saving the Earth.
When it comes to talking about American teen audiences, she straightens up in her chair and becomes analytical. “It’s very interesting what American young audiences are into now, it’s supernatural stuff and vampires, but I think eventually we’ll get to the point where they’ll want to watch darker, smarter stuff,” she says, using the short-lived Skins as an example of what US audiences aren’t yet ready for. “It’s a demographic that I care a lot about because I love television so fucking much. I would sneak into the living room to catch an episode of The Sopranos and my brother would let me watch The Wire with him, and I didn’t have anything for me. I’ve always wanted to create that for the version of that girl who wants to watch these shows, but doesn’t have something that’s for her. I hope eventually we get there.”
It seems like Black-D’Elia is on the right path, however. Next up for the raven-haired actress is a role as Analeigh Tipton’s sister in Viral, a thriller – directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman – about infectious parasites that devastate a small town. “The craziest thing was that Ebola happened after we wrapped this movie,” she says earnestly. “I swear. And it is so eerily similar. Viral asks, ‘What if this happened in a small town in America? How would we react?’”
Now in post-production, Viral seems to be the smart, layered type of work that Black-D’Elia wants to be doing. “They gave me Black Hole as a present before I started,” she says, referring to the acclaimed graphic novel about teens that contract a mysterious disease. Viral marks a big step in Black-D’Elia career. Her smart, natural coolness makes it easy to portend a bright future. And that’s a prediction that doesn’t take a whole lot of foresight.
Black cotton dress by CHANEL, white button down cotton shirt (worn underneath) by MICHAEL KORS and sunglasses by GARETT LEIGHT
Photographer: Charlotte Hadden.
Fashion Editor: Jamie Schneider.
Words: Maxwell Williams.