4 minute read
Before and After
Standing at the edge of stardom, actress JOSEPHINE LANGFORD is calm, cool and collected.
As far back as Josephine Langford can remember, she wanted to become an actress. Hailing from Perth, Australia, Jo—as many refer to her — is the daughter of two doctors who grew up with a passion for singing, dancing and music. “I’m hesitant to say that I was that typical kid putting on performances but that was definitely me,” she confesses. She became adamant about acting at a young age and recalls she couldn’t imagine doing any other type of work.
As with many aspiring actors, it took some time for her to not only master her craft but to figure out how to actually secure roles. At 14, she earned her first paid acting gig appearing in a corporate video that was shown to families that were going through a divorce. “Perth, where I live and grew-up is one of the more isolated cities in the world. It’s not industry heavy and we only have around four agents. I didn’t grow up knowing anyone who worked in the entertainment business,” she says. So, she took matters into her own hands and would spend time on her computer Googling topics like, “how to get on television” or back when she was 12, “Disney auditions.”
Breaking into the entertainment world can be challenging and with it can come repeated bouts of rejection. “People ask me how I deal with rejection when I don’t get a certain job. I believe that if you don’t get a role, it’s because you aren’t right for it. You just have to wait for the right one.” Flash forward seven years after her very first job, her patience and perseverance has paid off. In April, she appeared on the big screen, as the female lead in the movie adaptation of After, the highly anticipated film based upon the wildly successful book series written by Ana Todd. She says, “It was a long journey and several things had to happen behind the scenes. People always think that success happens overnight, but it doesn’t.” Her big break, playing Tessa Young, was originally hindered by a scheduling conflict, but the tide eventually shifted in her favor. “Originally, I didn’t get an audition because I was working on another project, but two months later they changed the shoot date and I auditioned for another part in the movie. I got a Skype callback and a call from my agent, who said they wanted to meet with me for the lead role. I went to Los Angeles, had a few meetings and that was that.”
The five book series, which has garnered over 1.5 billion reads on the digital website, Wattpad, in addition to print editions published by Simon & Schuster, has amassed a devoted fanbase who can't seem to get enough. Upon meeting Josephine, you quickly gather that she has an air about her that is laidback and easygoing, so it makes sense that she approached her character without too much intimidation, in regards to what fans would expect. “Whenever you are playing a character who is well-known and loved by a lot of people, there will always be expectations. As an actor, you have the responsibility to make sure you are playing it right, but at the same time, you cannot allow yourself to feel so much pressure that you won’t be confident or secure in what you are doing.” Once she was confirmed, things happened quickly and she didn’t have more than ten days to prep before she began shooting in Atlanta. In that window, she mastered her American accent, read the book, along with the script and had a weeklong rehearsal period that allowed her to bond with her co-stars, which included Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, her love interest, and Selma Blair, who plays her mother. The film is a coming of age love story, with a plot line that many young adults can relate to—Tessa is a freshman in college, who falls for a dark and mysterious bad boy, Harden, played by Fiennes-Tiffin and the plot line unravels from there.
I spoke to Josephine over the phone in New York, about a month after meeting her on our shoot. She just wrapped her first worldwide press tour, where she spent three weeks on the road with Hero and Anna traveling to points in Spain, Mexico and Brazil. “I feel really lucky that I was able to visit so many beautiful countries that I had never had the opportunity to visit before. The press schedule wasn’t too overwhelming. We’ve all become really close, so we had a lot of fun. I feel very lucky that my job allows me to travel for a living.” We talked about the future, perhaps a sequel to After, and the type of material that piques her interest. “I have read a few things recently that I am absolutely obsessed with but nothing is confirmed at the moment—I am still exploring. Whenever I look at a script, I look at the character. There has to be something, always inexplicable, about it that makes me want to do it.
Photographed by Daniel G. Castrillon
Interview by Alison Engstrom
Makeup by Meg Kashimura
Hair by Marshall Lim
Hair Assistant Kevin Kondor
Photography Assistant Matthew Caprotti