herbeautymag muses #3
Vera and I differ a lot in terms of how we live our lives. Where she travels back and forth between Amsterdam and New York, has numerous photo shoots and movie projects, I find myself studying in the southernmost city of the Netherlands, where writing for the student newspaper is as glamorous as it gets. We’ve known each other all of our lives, but there are still a few things that I haven’t asked her before. Today, I wanted to get rid of the distance that’s still between us. After all, we are supposed to be best friends, for God’s sake. (text: Cato Boeschoten)
I see you as a girl who knows how to find her way, and who’s not afraid of new experiences and adventure. You like to stay with ‘two feet on the ground’ as our peeps back home would say. Do you think this view, from me about you, is justified? Do you think others see you this way?
I do think I’m grounded … People lose their shit all the time around me, friends in New York and people that I know. They can’t handle the pressure of living the big city life. And especially when I try to make decisions that are going to influence my life I try to think about, you know, what would I do in Amsterdam, what would my family do? Because I trust them and I respect those people the most. I think that’s what I base my life on, still. My upbringing was very helpful in that way.
How do you want to come across when you meet new people?
I think that’s the problem, I think I don’t have anything like that in mind.
You moved to New York when you were seventeen. Do you think leaving home at such an early age changed you?
I think so. I moved out so soon and had all these experiences in New York on my own, in a city that I didn’t know. Having to ‘survive’ like that maybe toughened me up a bit. In the beginning I used to be very self-conscious with the way I looked and whether people liked me or not. And if I saw a famous person I would always be like “Oh my God, who is that, I want to talk to them”. But now I just don’t care as much about that any more. I’m happy with the people I have in my life and I just think I don’t need as much attention from the outside as I used to.
Now this is embarrassing, I had to Góógle you in order to find out …
… “what exactly is it that she does?!” (laughs).
Yes! Do you think you can summarize it for me? What does Vera Lesavoy have to offer the world?
Well it’s funny because I always used to think that I was going to be an actor like my dad. I went to a Dutch acting school for a little bit and I explored that whole thing. Although it’s still definitely something that I would see as my main occupation in life, I recently discovered that there are other things that I really like to do as well. I’ve been modeling for a long time, and last summer I started taking photographs of my friends on vacation with an old camera I bought in New York.
But you also make these personal projects. The short videos you’ve made, for example there’s one where you’re in a bathtub. How do these little, personal things come into existence?
Ah, I really wish I would make more of these. I like the way they come together. Usually, it just starts out with an idea, or an image that fascinates me. Then I just take my camera, add some props and just mess around for a little bit, using different angles. I edit it on my phone, maybe not professional at all, but the essence of the story of I am trying to create just comes to life at that point. I just think: ‘this could make sense if I put it here’. So it doesn’t usually start with an idea but it comes to life afterwards.
We both grew up with parents that worked in the art sector. How do you think this influences the way you make your videos now, and the way you think about music and art?
Well, what I see with a lot of my friends is that they are just starting to discover culture … We had the luxury to be growing up in a household where this was very important, and I’m very grateful for it. When I was younger I didn’t always like going to museums or didn’t always have fun when visiting a church on vacation. But I’m super grateful that my parents, for example, always played classical music. I didn’t particularly like it growing up, but now I really do. I strongly believe that being exposed to art makes me like it more now. I’m actually spoiled in a way! (laughs)
Can you tell me something about the pictures that were shot in your family’s house in Amsterdam? How much of yourself are you showing in those pictures?
Well, I do spend a lot of time in my mum’s art studio: when I was younger we would always paint there and now, I still do. So it does feel like my space too and in that sense it is my place. But of course for the pictures it’s a little bit orchestrated. I wasn’t actually painting at the time when my friend Elina came over and took the shot. But it is something that I do a lot. I go up there and paint, draw or take photographs and I make a lot of time to do things like that when I’m in Amsterdam.
When you first came back from the US, I felt like you had become a slightly different person. More grown up maybe, but also a bit further away from the Vera I knew. Are you someone else in the Netherlands than in New York?
I think I used to be. When I was first moving there and when I started to make friends I cared more about what people thought of me. I wanted to be someone else, and I wanted to fit into this, you know, ‘New York scene’. Now however, I don’t want to ‘fit in’ so much anymore. It’s actually something that I realized a couple weeks ago, which is that I’m feeling more European than ever. When I first got to New York, I was learning so much about the American culture that I didn’t really pay as much attention to my European roots. But recently, especially with all the Trump shit happening in America … I feel very good about being a European person and the upbringing that I’ve had and the culture that we have. It’s such a beautiful thing now.
Do you remember that we once had to work at a business party and serve champagne to young entrepreneurs? I proposed you, and the guy who organized the party had checked out your Instagram to be sure. He was quite shocked by your pictures, haha! So I had to defend you and say ‘she’s not always like this!’ Do you remember that?
Yes (laughs). A funny story is, I met my boyfriend through Instagram. And when I sent him a message, he was like “oh my god, this girl must some kind of ‘crazy Miley Cyrus party girl’” (laughs). But we did set up a date, and he took me to this very sophisticated gala in Central Park Zoo. He was a little worried that I might be A), super bored, and B), totally crazy and that I would embarrass him at the table. However, he was very surprised to see that I was actually engaging in conversations with the people next to us, and that I seemed pretty normal in the end.
So, this image that you put out there, is that a part of you or not?
Yes, for sure it is. But I think that a lot of people are able to see through that as well. I just don’t like to get super personal on my Instagram. I don’t like to make it a lot about stuff that is irrelevant, for example going to events or instagramming what you had for breakfast. I like to express myself, but not make it abóut myself all the time.
Do you think you will go back to school again?
Well. I went to school for a little bit. It was for acting, so it wasn’t as academic as psychology for example, but I’ve never been a very academic person … I júst graduated high school and I never really enjoyed going to school. But because I’m not in school now, I miss learning sometimes. And it’s nice to be in a closed environment where you can make mistakes. Because now, everything I put out there is real. You have to … this is the life. You can’t make mistakes in that way.
Do you feel like you have to deliver more now?
Yes. That is definitely a fear that I have, always having to deliver. You can’t fail. Of course I could, but it’s not like school where you’re allowed to. But then again, I am still young and I believe I have to use that to my advantage. I like doing what I do, but I definitely think I’ll go back to school again one day.
You said you did not really enjoy going to school. Do you have a problem with authority?
I think … the schooling system just doesn’t really work for me. Having to show up in class every day for years and having this student-teacher relationship. That’s always a bit messy with me for whatever reason. I’m a bit of a know-it-all in school, and that is definitely a problem. So I would like to maybe break it up and take courses instead. Especially for acting it’s so important to make mistakes and keep the machine oiled.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
How old am I then? 31. I would definitely want to have children I think. But I always say that if I do I wouldn’t want to raise them in America. I just have so much faith in the European schooling system and I would want them to grow up near their grandparents as well. So I would see myself in Europe with some kids, having a creative career and being able to do the things I want. Preferably with a significant other, I don’t think I would want to be a single mom (laughs).