The amiable Elizabeth Wheeland is, in 2018 terms, an influencer. It’s why she was chosen by Kendall Jenner to appear as one of 20 finalists in Love Magazine’s #loveme17 talent search. It’s why she featured in our AW17 Blonde Ambition shoot. Aside from influencer being a particularly chichi alternative for famous, it points to her success on that does-or-doesn’t-it-mean-I-matter thermometer, Instagram followers. Which is currently burning up at over 260 thousand. At 17 Elizabeth is already known (and loved) for her lioness locks, smokey voice and ease before a camera.
DISORDER: What are you working on right now, and what’s it all about?
ELIZABETH: I just released a small collection of jewellery through Seven 50, a New York-based jewellery company. For me, jewellery adds the magic touch to whatever a girl wears. I love the look of vintage pieces! I also took some time to relax and recharge.
What’s your approach to fashion?
I love neutral colors and classic prints like cheetah, stripes and polka dots. Leaving mystery to the mind is also key to a great look. Showing your body without showing a lot of skin is beautiful. My style seems to be a mix of a 1950s actress and a 1980s rocker chick. Elegant yet tough. When in doubt I reach for my good ol’ leather jacket or a LBD [little black dress].
What people, places or things inspire you?
I’m a city girl. I love NYC and London. I’m always people watching. I find myself strolling through the city with a cinematic eye. I’m inspired by the hustle and bustle of city life, the everyday people, crazy subway riders… I enjoy the little snippets of life.
Who do you look up to most in your field?
Scarlett Johansson. She can play a superhero or a cyber-enhanced human as well as the seductress. I particularly love her performances in Lost in Translation and Match Point. We also are voice twins! I also admire Alexa Chung. I love her sense of humour and her outlook on life. In her book, It, she shares advice on life and love in a really entertaining way.
What’s the secret to your success?
I never try to be something I’m not. Trends come and go, so you need a solid grounding of who you are and what you want to be known for. I also find humour in everything. Laughter is the key to my heart.
What’s your biggest regret?
Not taking dance lessons. I’ve got my moves but they could be much more impressive.
When people approach you for work, how do you separate the creeps from the collaborators?
I first check out their work, which tells me a lot about the artist. To me, a great collaboration should be fun. It’s common to receive strange proposals from strange people. But I developed a sixth sense about who’s legit and who’s creepy. I’ve never had an experience on set that made me uncomfortable.
For what do you get the most compliments, and how do you take it?
People first notice my hair and eyes. But I also get a lot of compliments on my voice, which is very raspy. I do appreciate the kind things people have to say and I always thank them.
What would you most like to change about the fashion industry?
Change in the fashion industry comes slowly. Currently, everyone talks about embracing a greater variety of sizes. I’m glad that social media has given women the opportunity to portray themselves as they really are and to create relatable images in fashion.
What’s the coolest you’ve ever looked, and what were you wearing?
The first time I visited London I attended an event at [nightclub] Annabel’s which was quite a thrill. I wore a black mini-dress adorned with gold snakes, a chunky gold chain necklace and black patent Mary Jane heels. And, of course, I wore my trademark voluminous and curly hair. It was a fabulous night!
You’ve a pretty large following on Instagram. How important is it for you to build and maintain a relationship with your fans?
It is extremely important! Fans want to see your day-to-day life, what you’re currently reading, music you are listening to, your outfit of the day, and what you’re up to. Instagram stories help you reveal yourself. My followers know that I love jazz and blues. I go to a lot of cultural events like plays, indie movies and art museums. I love hearing from fans and followers.
Who was your first crush?
Harrison Ford in Star Wars: A New Hope; that was my first favourite movie and my first crush, and still is.
Were you a nerd or a cool kid?
Neither! I was always busy with some bright idea. I fell in love with theatre acting and that took up a lot of my time. Even as a preschooler, I wrote my own scripts and insisted that my family appear after dinner to watch my “shows.” Later, I loved cooking and baking and it became such a big part of my life that I began selling my desserts. I still love baking and I often make cookies for my friends.
We know you’re passionate about acting and have a great taste in films. What’s your ideal role?
Cat Woman in Batman Returns! It has always been a dream of mine to play Cat Woman. She’s incredibly witty, badass, stealthy and strong. The styling in that film is also phenomenal. The patent jumpsuit, red lipstick and crazy, blonde hair. Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance is impeccable.
Private concert: who’s playing?
It’d be between The Velvet Underground, Tom Waits, Jacques Brel and The Rolling Stones. Though the list could go on.
Unpaid endorsement: what can you recommend?
One of my favourite places is Music Box Theatre, an art-house movie theatre in Chicago. I go there whenever I’m in town. Very old-school vibe, has a lounge with chess boards and live organ music before movies. Music Box features independent movies, foreign films, cult and classic films. Great place to challenge a friend at chess and see an offbeat film.
The leaders of the world have gathered for a conference. You have the stage. What do you say (or do)?
“Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world.”
– John Lennon, Imagine
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I would love to shoot with Petra Collins. Her perspective is unique and iconic. You see a photo, you know it’s hers because of its distinct, dreamlike atmosphere.
Each year has unfolded with big surprises for me! This year I’m planning to focus a bit more on acting. I’ve been auditioning and getting in some acting classes. I have some modelling projects in the works as well.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt along the way?
Fretting about the future robs you of joy in this moment. I’ve learned to enjoy the moment I’m in right now. The best things in life are the littlest things in life.
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Photography: Darren Black
Stylist: Rebekah Roy
Hair & Make-up: Reve Taku Zen Ry using MAC, Kryolan & TIGI for hair
Model: Elizabeth Wheeland @ Leni's Models