ALEXANDRA SHIPP marvels with her stunning looks and curly locks but her deluge to fame is credited to her reprisal of the role of Storm for the second time in Marvel’s highly-anticipated Dark Phoenix, a Kenzo film campaign The EVERYTHING alongside Milla Jovovich, a role from the hit 2017 coming-of-age movie Love, Simon, and an upcoming reboot sequel of the same title Shaft. As she soars beyond odds that clouds over her journey as an actress, she’s gearing up to strike everyone’s radar like a hurricane.
Alexandra transferred to LA in hopes of pursuing music but the tides shifted her towards a direction that she found striking—acting. “My mom put me into theatre when I was 10 because I hated competition. I loved sports but I just hated fighting for the same thing when we could all do it together. Always the diplomat,” she claims. “Also, I loved putting on shows for my family! I wanted to be a ‘superstar’” After moving from Arizona to LA at the age of 17 and landing her role in Alvin and the Chipmunks:The Squeakquel, she thought that everything was gonna roll smoothly. But the calm before the storm came six years later when she landed her pivotal role for X-Men and everything just went smooth-sailin’ for her. It’s always a fight or flight to redeem a place in Hollywood, and Alexandra shone through.
“I want to convince people that I’m not me in a way that it almost scares you. My characters walk and talk differently and it’s all a specific choice and I love that. Now, I just love the idea of being that chameleon, changing people’s minds and doing it with intention.”
Hopping in high-profile films from a mutant, a badass tragedy girl, a school best friend, and more, we talked to Alexandra about her ascent to Hollywood and how she weathered the storm.
What is it that attracted you to acting?
I love the idea of being someone else. I’m confident but to be someone else intrigues me. I want to convince people that I’m not me in a way that it almost scares you. My characters walk and talk differently and it’s all a specific choice. Now, I just love the idea of being that chameleon, changing people’s minds and doing it with intention.
You originally moved to Hollywood to pursue music. What shifted you towards acting?
Acting is a cleaner business. Period. No one’s trying to own your name and likeness. They’re not trying to waste your time and take credit for it. Music is dirty but also powerful. I could be in the worst mood and then a song comes in and I’m instantly transported to where I was when I heard this song the first time. Music is pure magic and it will always be my first love. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day when my clout outweighs my naïveté. Until then, I’ll continue playing my guitar on the floor and shelling out to watch my favorite acts in concert.
“[My roles] are all challenging, but when you throw yourself into asking why, you learn more about the human condition and how specifically beautiful it is.”
It’s definitely a pressure to take the helm of an iconic Marvel character. Can you share with us how you bagged the role of Storm and what were your preparations for it?
I knew I wanted this job, but realistically I didn’t think I was gonna get it. When I went in for the test, I didn’t have any food in my fridge. I stole muffins from the crafty table. I cracked jokes with the camera guys and figured I was a filler audition for the studio to see options but they had someone in mind. I went in and did what I thought was true for my version of Storm. I believed in my choices and took the pressure off myself. I think that’s what set me apart. Sometimes it’s just doing that that people react to!
What’s it like working with some of the most well-known actors in the industry? What are you able to learn from those experiences?
I’ve learned that we’re all human. We don’t have to adhere to what others see as right. As long as you believe in what you think is best for the character (within reason), that’s artistic integrity. That’s gold in this industry.
“Criticism when it’s not constructive is just destruction. To say I know how to stay on top of this is to say I can teach people how to walk on water. You just gotta know how to swim and weather the storm.”
You portray characters that are quite different from one another. What process do you go through to embody these roles?
It’s the best part of this job! A killer, a superhero, a ride-or-die wifey, a doctor?! I’ve been so lucky. [My roles] are all challenging, but when you throw yourself into asking why, you learn more about the human condition and how specifically beautiful it is.
As a Hollywood actress, you’re going to be in the public eye and that can make you vulnerable to criticism, how do you stay on top of that?
There’s no perfect way to do this. Please understand that the world is a mean place and there are plenty of critics out there without credentials. Criticism when it’s not constructive is just destruction. To say I know how to stay on top of this is to say I can teach people how to walk on water. You just gotta know how to swim and weather the storm.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to move to Hollywood to become an actor or singer?
Know that success is when preparation meets opportunity. Stay ready. Stay shining.
Written by Cholo Katipunan
Photographed by Raen Badua
Styled by Iliki Price
Makeup by Dana Delaney of Forward Artists
Hair by Marcia Hamilton of Forward Artists