I’m early. About 20 minutes early to be precise. You know those people with the perpetual habit of being five minutes late? Well, I suffer from the opposite affliction and repeatedly find myself painfully premature to dates, doctor appointments, interviews with famous models, and the like. Yes, it’s better than showing up late, but it has also resulted in an awkward moment or two. Like, for instance, right now.
After receiving a message that Alexis Ren is stuck in a bit of traffic (an anticipated non-negotiable in L.A.) I sit back in my car and review a few of my questions. I double- and triple-check that my voice memo app won’t conspire against me, and give the model’s social media pages one last pass. Ten minutes go by, but I still have another 15 before the start of our interview. I pay for my meter, admire some interpretive dancing on the corner to my right, and head in the direction of the Revolve Social House in West Hollywood.
Not only is this the set locale for our interview, it’s also where the subsequent launch party will be held for the model’s brand-new line of athleisure (aptly named Ren Active) in collaboration with Revolve Clothing. Sleek, fresh, and incredibly sexy, the line is eye-catching—just like Alexis. As a whole, the night has the pretense of feeling very VIP. As I make my way down Melrose Avenue, I spot Alexis gracefully stepping out of her car. And since I have a few moments to spare, I decide to play fly on the wall.
As anticipated, the model is just as striking in person as she is in photos.
The sun hangs low in the L.A. sky and right now, it’s casting a radiant illumination over Alexis’s slim silhouette. Outfitted in a sporty ensemble (all Ren, of course), she’s wearing the kind of billowing athleisure pants only a tall and insanely fit model can pull off, heels, and an eye-catching assortment of jewelry—most notably, a pretty gold chain hangs around her neck with the word “Ren” scrolled in cursive just below her collarbone. Alexis Ren, quite literally, is glowing. And after settling into a plush, baby-pink sofa on the second floor of Revolve, I notice that her soul is too.
Alexis has been doing interviews all day, and while one would think she’d be fatigued and lackadaisical at this point, she exudes a contagious energy that feels very much eager and unmistakably warm. It’s 6:45 p.m., and, subconsciously, I wonder what her secret is. Coffee, it turns out, as later on in the interview, she laughs that creamer is one of the only things in her fridge at the moment. But more on that later. Getting Ren’s take on the collection and, of course, her favorite pieces, is what’s on the tip of my tongue.
“The Enticed Cropped Tee is my favorite,” she says. “I can wear it around as clothing, but it’s also kind of see-through so I can wear it with a pop of color or I can tone it down—either way. But also, the Touché one piece. It fits so well.”
As Ren talks fashion, I slowly take in her beauty aesthetic. A sultry smoked-out eye complements impossibly long eyelashes (which, I note to myself, definitely don’t look like falsies). Paired with her flawless skin and deep-chocolate hair color, the overall effect is arresting.
I also note her posture. Sure, all models know how to pose and carry themselves (it’s part of their job, after all,) but I immediately pick up on Alexis’s inherent poise. I remember reading about her training in ballet, and since we’re slightly ballerina-obsessed here at Team Byrdie, I need to know more. When I ask her how dance has influenced her exercise and workout routine, her eyes light up. Apparently, I touched on the million-dollar question.
“It’s influenced my life. As far as modeling, it has helped me so much with posing; it helps me know my body more,” she reveals. “Also, ballet elongates your muscles, so I’ve been blessed to have the kind of muscles that work in my favor and help with muscle memory.”
Growing up homeschooled, Alexis explains the importance of having a close-knit dance community: “Growing up in a way where dance was a huge part of my life definitely created an amazing environment for me. I was homeschooled, so I spent five to six hours a day just dancing. So that’s something I try to do as much as I can.”
And the rest of her workout routine? “One word,” she says, “sporadic. It depends, if I have a good schedule that’s set out, I can try to spread out my workouts. I’ll usually mix it up with one day of weight training with my trainer, and then the next day I’ll go for a run, and the next day I’ll do yoga. I try to keep doing different things so that my body doesn’t adjust too much.
“As far as my diet, I make sure to have protein with absolutely every meal. That’s one huge thing I’ve learned! It helps with muscle recovery and eventually that helps boost your metabolism, and those muscles are burning fat even when you’re not doing anything. Also eating consistently—small amounts, not huge meals—has been really good for my metabolism.”
But as we all know, life can get crazy. Ren tells me that she tries to keep her fridge stocked with all the healthy things—egg whites, fruits, vegetables, almond milk—and if her schedule starts to get particularly unpredictable, she knows she’ll have to get a little more creative with her exercise routine.
Says Ren, “If I’m running around, I’ll put all of my workout clothes in my car, I’ll go online, and depending where I am, I’ll look where there are classes I can take.”
I can’t help but grin when Ren lowers her voice, turns her cheek, and slyly admits that she loves to take advantage of free classes at studios she’ll never go to again. I think to myself, Models—they’re just like us.
If she’s in a rush, she sticks with Pilates, swearing it’s the fastest way to tone and tighten. When I ask her how she stays motivated, or what advice she has for making a workout routine become a habit, she offers some wise words. As someone who’s recently been extremely candid regarding her struggle with body image and an eating disorder, she gets the pressure.
“It’s really not as hard as it seems,” she says. “Even in the moment, just going for a walk, learning a new sport of some kind, it doesn’t have to be a situation where you’re going to work out to punish yourself. It’s not a punishment; it’s changing your mind set about what a workout is. It’s you saying thank you to your body, saying thank you for being this vehicle that your brain can walk around in, you know?”
When I ask Ren what she would say to girls with similar struggles, she’s brutally honest: “It’s day by day. It’s all about the actions that you take, not what you think. As long as you don’t act on what you really, really, really want to do—whether it’s punish yourself, or not eat, or throw up, or whatever. It’s going to be hard to handle in your mind, but stick to your actions. People always think, Oh, it gets easier day by day, but it doesn’t. It’s kind of like losing someone in your life. It just comes and goes.
There are some days when I’ll be fine—I won’t have any issues, I won’t think about food, I’ll be totally on it. And then one day I’ll wake up bloated or something, and my whole day is just consumed by it, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
“As long as you just stick to your routine and your regimen, and know that what you’re doing is for your body’s health, and not the physical aspect of it, that’s all that matters. Your body is just the vehicle. It’s not who you are. I’ll talk to friends, my godmother, my sister, my godsister. I think it’s all about vulnerability. It’s okay to say ‘Hey, I need help, my brain isn’t being nice to me today.' That’s so powerful to just ask for help—a lot of people can just not ask for help. It’s really about having your warriors around you.
I’d be in a garbage ditch somewhere without them. Like, for sure, 100%.”
Now that she’s 20, I ask her what she would say to her 16-year-old self, and how (after a very public and messy breakup) she’s learned to be herself outside of a relationship.
“Advice? Hmmm. Don’t take yourself too seriously, your life too seriously, don’t fall for fuck boys, (laughs) and do you. Focus on yourself,” she says.
“The number one thing is that one person cannot be your everything, and I learned that the hard way. Everyone says that they’re looking for their other half. I don’t believe that. I think you’re a whole and you find another whole, and you live cohesively together.
“[Breakups] happen to all of us. As long as you know that you’re not the only one, you’re going to get through it, you’re going to be okay, and it’s not the end of the world. That’s it—you have to learn your lesson. As long you know that it’s a lesson, and you can learn from it, and therefore grow from it, it can actually be a positive thing.”
When it comes to her makeup and beauty routine, Ren is just as refreshing. After telling me she avoids wearing makeup to the gym (unless, of course, she has meetings or events throughout the day), she shares that for her, the focus isn’t so much about makeup; it’s more about taking care of what she has. In other words, she’s super into skincare. Oh, and lots and lots of water.
“I really try to focus on my skin,” she says. “I think that’s the most important thing, as opposed to spending a bunch of money to try to cover things up. I think it’s good to spend the money to not have things to cover up.”
And growing up, she had lots of inspiration. “Honestly, I grew up watching my mom,” Ren says. “She influenced me with makeup, and even though she was a mother of four and was constantly busy and running around, she always was able to make time for herself—to make herself look the way she wanted to look, which I always saw as a form of self-love. So now I kind of think of beauty as a form of self-love.”
Despite being a minimalist when it comes to her makeup routine, she still has certain products and beauty rituals she swears by.
“Benetint from Benefit Cosmetics is my life. It’s waterproof, it doesn’t make my skin breakout, and I can put it on at any time. But honestly, my favorite beauty accessory is the beach. You know when you’re on vacation and you get that glow and you just all of a sudden feel like you don’t need makeup? But then I always get back [home] and I’m like Oh wait, yeah you did need some makeup (laughs).
“I also love to skateboard. I’m in the Santa Monica area a lot, and I’ll go there super early in the morning, and if I don’t have time to take a shower, I like to just jump in the ocean. It gives me that great beach wave—or not! Sometimes it doesn’t!” Apparently, even for models, uncooperative hair is a universal truth.
As the interview comes to a close, there’s a shuffling of movement near the stairs (her next interviewer, no doubt), but I still have one last question: What does the media get wrong about her?
“[The notion] that I’m only a model or that I’m only an influencer. I’ve told people over and over again that I’m not categorizing myself, that I would consider myself more of an entrepreneur with different curiosities I have. The Ren [line] says, ‘A girl who’s passionately curious.’ I think ‘passion’ is such strong word that if you use it for something that you’re interested in, it becomes too much. And then if it falls through, well, that’s disappointing. But if you’re curious about something, the stakes aren’t that high.
So, if it falls through, you can tell yourself that it didn’t take you anywhere and instead it can lead somewhere else.”
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