The chess queen changed her life by making the bullied ex-child a Hollywood queen. Which did not take away from her the pleasure of walking winding roads and stepping into the shoes of strong heroines. "Because women are not one-dimensional, they have a thousand shades."
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A doe-like look, so beautiful it seems alien, and long blond hair worthy of the fairy Melusina. Anya Taylor-Joy, 26, also has nothing of the doll. "The punk princess of Hollywood" recently headlined the British press. This extraordinary actress, the revelation of The Queen of Chess, the Netflix series that has totaled 62 million views in streaming, and now an ambassador of Dior fashion and make-up, seems to belong to a new generation of emancipated women who are consciously subverting the stereotypes of female representation.
The tough women of Anya Taylor-Joy
Hooked up with her via Zoom, we commend that most of the characters she's portrayed on screen are tough, downright tough women. She thanks, enthusiastic. And then she, in a surprisingly deep voice, she goes on carefully weighing the words: "By representing women too often in a one-dimensional way, you are deprived of an incredible range of shades. In general, human beings are never so linear, nor so polite. A wide range of emotions vibrate in them ".
Obviously this is also the case for Anya Taylor-Joy. An idyllic childhood in Buenos Aires, in connection with nature and animals, probably brought to light a whole repertoire of stories, which this girl, the youngest of six children, who grew up as an only child, told herself. "I used to go for a walk in the woods and play all the characters," she confides delicately. “It may seem strange, but I had a voice in my head that suggested that I become an actress, because it was the path that would bring me peace and happiness. It was a real luck that this profession existed, because without it I think I would have gone crazy ».
Discovered on the street in London
The move to London, wanted by the American-Argentine father, a banker, and by the psychologist mother, abruptly interrupts the daily life of a six-year-old girl. A student in a private institute, the future actress refuses to learn English in the hope that, speaking only Spanish, her parents will resign themselves to returning to her lost paradise. But she receives the Harry Potter saga as a gift and soon becomes familiar with the language of sorcerers.
At sixteen, a new miracle: as she walks her dog one evening near the Harrods department store and practices walking in her mother's high heels for an evening, she is followed by a car that will turn out to be be that of Sarah Doukas, co-founder with Richard Branson of the supermodel agency Storm and discoverer of Kate Moss. She worked as a model before being cast, at the age of sixteen, for her first film, The Witch, directed by Robert Eggers, and followed by a number of other fantastic films, including Split by M. Night Shyamalan.
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Anya Taylor-Joy, a path without stalls
But it is thanks to The Chess Queen, a series in which she masterfully plays a young orphan who has become an international chess champion, that her career suddenly explodes during the pandemic and earns her the Golden Globe for best actress in a miniseries. A huge success that radically changes her trajectory.
"It took me a while to get used to it," she says humbly, "but today I have finally adapted to this new life. I am very happy that this series has touched people. Many of the people who felt isolated during the lockdown confessed to me that it helped them feel connected to each other. I found it very beautiful and moving ".
As for private life, Anya Taylor-Joy is happy alongside her partner, musician Malcolm McRae (secretly married a few weeks ago, her parts do not confirm).
The film projects
From a cinematographic point of view, the proposals multiply. However, she does not stray from the winding roads she has decided to take: on the screen she plays singular heroines with a strong temper, who express her desire to avoid clichés. Loneliness, the feeling of being different – fueled by the bullying inflicted on her at school by students who mocked her about her appearance – the courage to go further, permeate the roles she plays.
Written by Michael Zippo
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