Deadline’s annual group of Ones to Watch in Cannes is made up of actors and filmmakers who are all bringing something fresh to the festival. The distinction isn’t always reserved for brand new faces; rather, we’ve selected people who are branching out, or who find themselves in waters where they are liable to make waves. Cannes can be a place of reinvention, after all.
With her no-fools-suffered, rock-chic attitude, Devon Ross looks like she’d be more at home in the Runaways than on a runway, but the 22-year-old has become one of the most sought-after models in the fashion world, representing Gucci, Mulberry and Valentino. And now she will make her acting debut. Directed by Olivier Assayas, working from his 1996 film of the same name, she appears in the HBO mini-series Irma Vep, which screens in the Cannes Premiere section and stars Alicia Vikander as Mira, an actress on the verge.
“Mira’s a movie star, and she’s going to Paris to make a film called The Vampires,” Ross says. “She’s kind of disillusioned by her fame and her relationships. I guess she’s been traveling for a really long time and doesn’t have anywhere to call home. I play Regina, Mira’s assistant. She’s a huge cinephile—she’s obsessed with film and she’s working towards making her first feature, so she’s in the right place at the right time.”
The same thing might be said for Ross herself. At 15, she recalls, “I was like, ‘I want to do something with my life.’ So, I went to a modeling agency and I was like, ‘Take me or leave me.’ They signed me and then it just all started from there. My mom was a model, so I grew up looking at her portfolio and I was always, like, ‘This seems like the best job ever. You just get your photo taken, and there’s nothing better than that.’”
Unlike her peers, Ross has some very different ideas about glamour. “I’ve always loved Elizabeth Taylor—she’s just gorgeous,” she says. “But I also love the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards: I grew up listening to them, they’re like my uncles in my head. I feel like I know them, but I don’t.” And if the actor work continues to come, she’d like it to be known that she’s a big fan of Patti Smith’s 2010 memoir Just Kids. “I’m waiting for someone to make that film because I’d love to play Patti.”
“That’s my dream,” she says, “so put it out there. Let the people know.”