LIVING Actress Violett Beane has some things in common with her God Friended Me character Cara Bloom, but has ambitions beyond her love of acting, she tells Jack Yan
Photographed by Jon Moe
Make-up by Jamie Dorman
Styled by Brittany Lovoi
Hair by Lino Martínez
From issue 40 of Lucire
Violett Beane first came to Lucire’s attention when she appeared in the CW’s The Flash, but it’s her starring role in CBS’s God Friended Me that has brought her to even greater prominence. The series, which has been renewed for a second season, sees a young man, Miles Finer, played by Brandon Micheal Hall, receive a Facebook friend request from someone called ‘God’. In the first episode, Miles meets Cara Bloom, played by Beane, a journalist who is sent as a friend suggestion by the God account. Through much of season one, Miles tries to uncover who is behind the account, and we’re left to ponder whether there really is a divine driver behind the Facebook account, while there’s an undeniable attraction between Miles and Cara that grows.
In each episode, the pair manage to help one or more of the friend suggesstions sent their way, giving God Friended Me almost a positive escapism from today’s confusing climate. The supporting cast, which includes veteran actor Joe Morton (Terminator 2), Suraj Sharma, and Javicia Leslie, gives God Friended Me greater character development. The fact that Hall and Beane are thoroughly likeable actors in the lead roles helps, as do the New York City locations and the bright sets, which feel more uplifting than countless us shows that seem to be continually set in darkened bunkers or “situation rooms”.
Beane, born in St Petersburg, Fla., and grew up in Austin, Texas, has had an interest in acting since her teenage years. Over the last four years, Beane’s career has included a number of feature films as well as recurring roles on earlier series, including The Leftovers, with Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Liv Tyler, and former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston; and US medical drama The Resident. God Friended Me brought Beane from Hollywood to New York, where we finally caught up with her on a shoot by long-time Lucire photographer Jon Moe, make-up artist and NY beauty editor Jamie Dorman, stylist Brittany Lovoi, and hairstylist Lino Martínez.
‘New York is so cool,’ says Beane of her new home. ‘I always thought I would never live here, it just never seemed like my speed, but I’m having a hard time imagining living anywhere else. There’s just so much culture and history here, and our show really showcases that. It’s like a passport to the city, showing you some of the coolest places in Manhattan.’
Both Beane and her character have a love for the city, but they differ in other respects. While Cara Bloom is open to the idea of a higher power guiding Miles, Beane, who was raised Quaker, has a slightly different take.
‘In general, I live my life by trusting what is to come, not because of a higher power but because of my own confidence in myself and in the world as a collective. I work hard and try my best, so I guess I trust that it will work out. Cara is a bit more of a traditional believer who doesn’t see much as “just a coincidence” and she pushes Miles to see that.
‘Landing the role of Cara definitely does feel kismet in a way. It was one of my last auditions during pilot season last year, and I had just about given up hope in landing a pilot, until I met with the producers and we all just knew.’
They are, however, similar in other respects. ‘Cara and I both love new experiences and seek them out. We also love desserts, although I think our writers wrote that part after spending time with me! But I think she’s more selfless than myself. She truly is a good person, she makes a point to help people in her daily life because it makes her feel good. I think we could all learn a thing or two from that.’
While Beane credits Cara for her selflessness, she is very conscientious herself: a devoted vegan, she believes animals should have dignity and should not be harmed. She appeared in a PETA campaign some years ago to promote veganism, as part of its ‘I’d Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur’ campaign.
Beane also admires Cara’s dress sense, which is very on-trend for a young New Yorker, and believable as the wardrobe choice of a working journalist. Cara’s working dresses are modern, but with a slightly retro edge: think nice woollens, tartan skirts and houndstooth jackets for colder weather and printed summer dresses for warmer ones. ‘I’m so happy you’re asking about this! I love Cara’s style,’ she says enthusiastically. ‘Our costume designer, Sarah Mae Burton, is so fabulous and does such a great job with each of the characters. We wanted a look that was both polished but easy-going, which is not the easiest thing to do. Her shoppers pick out a ton of stuff and then we have fittings where we play with different ideas. She’s super-open to any ideas I have, and just last week, I texted her a picture of an outfit I loved and we re-created it but in Cara’s style!’
Like Cara, she is active on social media, though less so on Facebook itself, preferring Instagram and Twitter. On Instagram, Bloom is candid about many aspects of her life: her closeness to her mother, Andrea; missing her father, who passed when she was young; and her long relationship with her boyfriend, Eyelid Kid musician Paul Grant, a fellow Austin local, whom she met through her brother. However, she realizes there are limits: ‘Social media can be an amazing tool for networking, a way to express how you’re feeling about the current state of the world, or even just a way to share a selfie on a day you’re really feeling yourself. But I hate how it has developed into this beast that people can feel beholdened to. I often hear people say they feel guilty for either not being on it enough or, on the other side of the spectrum, being on it too much. I don’t think it was ever the intention when it came about, but I feel it can get in the way of real-life experiences, and that’s when it becomes a problem.’
Beane says she also feels what viewers do in the script read-throughs, as the stories reveal more of the layers woven into the overall show as a whole: ‘that everything happens for a reason. And it also helps carry the storyline and allows us to do as much as we do!’
For those wondering whether a woman in her early 20s can channel the sort of depth that Cara Bloom’s character demands, they needed to look no further than the 11th episode, which went out on December 16, before the US holiday season. The episode forced Miles to confront the man who killed his mother in a car accident 17 years prior as his latest friend request, and drew in over 8·5 million viewers, nearly a post-pilot high. Hall himself showed his talents considerably as he wrestled between his feelings of hurt and the need for forgiveness. Beane herself showed her own depth in this episode, as someone who saw her friend hurt, and trying to encourage him to help both himself and his friend suggestion. How does a young woman a performance that resonates so well? ‘First of all, thanks so much!’ Beane responds. However, she is humble with her reasons for her performance: ‘Second, I’m so lucky to work with such an awesome cast, and Brandon gives so much in a scene that it doesn’t ever feel like I have to work to find it. For me, I just try and stay in the moment and respond to what is given to me, so that I’m constantly listening and the viewer is engaged.’
But it’s as likely that Beane is an actress who has had a long passion for her art, and seeks to extend herself. ‘I definitely like to be challenged, and it’s something I look for in new projects I’m working on,’ she says. ‘An all-time dream of mine is to work on a period film, set in the Victorian times. It would be amazing to put on all those big dresses and wigs! They also spoke and held themselves in a different manner back then as well.’
And this isn’t her only ambition. ‘I absolutely love acting and want to continue working on projects that push me creatively. I also want to write, direct, and produce in the near future, so I’m working towards that.’ We’re anxious to see those future credits where ‘Directed by’ precedes Violett Beane’s name, although we’re just as excited by the next season of God Friended Me, which returns in the autumn on CBS. •
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