Interview: Model Devon Ross Transitions to Acting w/ HBO Max’s Revival of ‘Irma Vep’

While major streaming services like Disney, Peacock, Hulu and Netflix are engaged in a pitched battle for subscriber supremacy, it has benefitted viewers in endlessly surprising ways. After all, who would have thought we’d get a dedicated Wednesday Addams series, which the latter just recently teased out? In a similar vein, HBO Max has just debuted the limited series Irma Vep, based on the 1996 French cult film of the same name – and it most definitely does not disappoint.

It’s directed by Olivier Assayas, who was also at the helm of the original, and it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month to significant critical acclaim. In it, the title character Mira, played by Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander, is an actor questioning the trajectory and seriousness of her career while she struggles with a recent breakup.  

The series explores Mira’s travails, as the boundaries between her real life and film character increasingly intersect. Starring alongside Vikander is Devon Ross in her acting debut as the former’s cinephile assistant Regina. British Vogue had recently identified Ross as a rising star the modeling world, with her having walked the runways for the likes of Valentino, Vivienne Westwood and Gucci; and if her performance in Irma Vep is any indication, her star will be rising on the screen as well.

She explains to BlackBook why she so viscerally connected with the character of Regina right from the outset.

“I’m obsessed with music,” she reveals. “That’s my passion; hers [Regina’s] is film. I really relate to having a creative obsession.”

Ross actually grew up around music in a way that most kids couldn’t even dream of. And so her obsession would be no surprise to anyone who is aware that she’s the daughter of Craig Ross, long-time guitarist for Lenny Kravitz, who she occasionally plays guitar side-by-side with, and who also happens to be her godfather.

Despite this being her first acting go round, however, one thing that is immediately evident is that Devon is as comfortable on the screen as she is on the runway. She so fully inhabits the character of Regina that her interactions with Mira seem completely natural, as if the two are close friends who have known each other for years. Yet the reality is that she and Vikander had never met before the filming.

“We really hit it off!” she enthuses. Apparently, yes.

Ross also admits that she hadn’t seen the 1996 film prior to reading the script for the first time. But the opportunity to work with such a venerable director was obviously a dream come true. “It was a no brainer, especially for a first project. It’s kind of insane, the original film is so good, and Olivier [Assayas] is amazing.”

Given the complexity of her character, however, it might have seemed a daunting first role. But she insists that acting had been something she most definitely had to take on, and the timing turned out to be perfect.

“I really didn’t know what I was getting into,” she jokes. “But I have always wanted this, and I came prepared.”

After spending six months in Paris shooting the series, like so many before her, Ross has also developed a taste for all things French. To be sure, she wore a stunning cream-colored silk dress by Hedi Slimane for Celine at the premier in Cannes; and she raves about her about her new “favorite place to eat and hang out,” Chez Janou, near the Bastille.

But with everything she’s accomplished at just 22 years of age, there’s obviously no stopping her. And wouldn’t you know, she has also just undertaken a music project of her own, something that was really kind of inevitable. “I recorded an album with my friend Camille Jansen. We don’t have a release date, but it’s coming.”

Her musical influences? “I love the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix…all the greats.”

While we wait for the album to arrive, however, we highly recommend getting your Devon Ross fix by binging Irma Vep as soon as humanly possible.

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