chloë grace moretz on the perks of being feisty
The actress, producer, and activist talks to i-D about what she’s learned from her mom, Teri Moretz — and from her other mom, Julianne Moore.
phot by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadi
It's easy to share your opinions in 2016 if you have an internet connection. And it's easy to be heard if you have a combined following of 13.97 million people on Instagram and Twitter, as the actress Chloë Grace Moretz does. What's harder is ensuring that what you're saying is both heartfelt and well-informed — and navigating the potential fallout when your detractors (which, in Chloë's case, recently included Kim Kardashian) respond with just as much heat.
"Right now it's becoming popular to be outspoken," Chloë told me over the phone recently. "And a lot of people, when you actually talk to them, it comes down to the three points that they've downloaded into their heads; they don't really know what they're saying." But Chloë is not one of those people. "I just really try and make clear to young people: do your research," she says.
In July, the 19-year-old spoke at the Democratic National Convention, encouraging her fellow millennials to vote. ("Stay feisty," Hillary told her afterwards.) She's tweeted and talked about body positivity, education, health, the importance of good role models for young women. And in the process, more than one media outlet has called her "the voice of her generation." It's a title she's not entirely shrugging off. This year, in addition to acting in a remake of classic horror film Suspiria alongside Tilda Swinton (directed by Luca Guadagnino of I Am Love and A Bigger Splash), Chloë is branching into producing. Her goal: "to make projects that our generation wants to see."
Heading up her production company with Chloë are her brother Trevor, and her mom, Teri, who has worked alongside Chloë since she landed her first acting role at five. It's from her that Chloë learned her outspokenness. On set when Chloë was a kid, Teri made sure she didn't become the "little princess" child star cliché. If Chloë wanted a glass of water, Teri taught Chloë to get it herself and never expect it to be carried over on a silver platter. "At the time that was annoying for me!" Chloë jokes. "But it showed me that she was very powerful."
And so when Chloë chose to participate in the #ActuallySheCan Mentorship program, a female empowerment campaign that will partner with the TEDWomen 2016 conference later this month, she chose Teri to stand alongside her as her mentor. Here, Chloë talks to i-D about learning self-sufficiency but also when to ask for help.
Let's start by talking about #ActuallySheCan. How did you become involved with the mentorship program?
I've always been very vocal about being an advocate for female rights, and for young women speaking their minds and asking for help in a positive light. So it felt very natural for me to be part of it.
Did you know immediately you'd choose your mom as your mentor?
My mom has always been a mentor to me, since I was a child. Watching her battle cancer and seeing her go through being a single mom, and navigating all the highs and lows of that... When I was older I realized how much I'd learned from her, and how she kept me sane in a world that is very easily diabolical.
What's your earliest memory of her?
Watching her protect me on set and making sure that I was never being catered to as a kid. I was always taught the value of completing a task yourself and not pawning it off on someone else. As I grew up, I had to learn that it's okay to let people do friendly things for you. I had to learn that as an adult. But I'd rather have to learn to accept people doing things for you in a friendly way than expect something from anyone. I think it really taught me the value of self-respect.
Now that you're 19, how has your relationship with your mom changed? How much time does she spend with you on set?
She definitely comes and visits more as a mom than anything else. She makes sure I'm taking care of myself and eating the right food.We make a rule for ourselves that when we're together we won't discuss work and we'll just be in each other's company. I think when you grow up, you learn that you have to actively keep up relationships with people in your family, especially your parents — and for me, that's just my mom. You have someone who has so much knowledge and has been through what you've been through and can help you navigate your emotions.
Have you met any other mom figures while filming?
Julianne Moore is someone who from the time I was 12 has always been there for me. She's always answered my questions and been a quiet voice. She'll check in on things and be like, "Just checking in to make sure you're happy and that you're doing [things] for you and you're not rushing anything." It's very easy to get caught up and go, go, go. So it's nice to hear from someone, "Hey, you're the best at what you're doing right now. But you're still going to be the best if you take a month off. You're still going to kill it." It's okay to breathe. You don't have to hold your breathe the whole time and hope you don't pass out.
I read that you're taking some time out from acting. What's your plan?
I have a couple of films that are just about to start shooting. It wasn't really about taking time off, it was about reevaluating the decisions I'm making and making sure that each one was not just a decision made because I was bored and wanted to work, but because it was a role that I couldn't physically bring myself not to do because I loved it so much. Making sure I check in with my heart and my head.
You're very active on Twitter. How do you make sure you're having the kinds of conversations you want to have?
Opinions aren't always accepted with open arms. But it's important to start conversations. It's always hard to come up against negativity, people who say, "You shouldn't have a voice." At least I'm educating myself in areas that I think are important to speak on. I think people have forgotten about the importance of self-education. And that doesn't mean you have to go to college. It doesn't mean you have to read every book out there. It's just looking for the bigger things in life, and keeping your eyes and ears open. It's about calculating your own ideas not based on an article you read on Facebook — truly figuring out what you believe in.
If you ran for president, what would your platform be?
Getting women the right to vote on their own health issues. Making women's health a women's only issue. Then also, educational reform. Education shouldn't be an aspiration it should be a reality. We should make it possible for all people to get an education in America. That's a big thing for me.
Until then, what are you working on?
I'm actively producing a lot. You'll see in the next six to eight months all the releases we're going to have coming out that I'm not acting in but have helped create. It's super exciting. I've always been more than just an actor. I love acting but I love filmmaking. It's great to be an adult now who can be heard and treated equally with other counterparts my age and above my age. I want to be able to make projects that our generation wants to see. Be the voice of our generation in the sense of putting content out there that is meaningful to us.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin