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"Let Me Be All of That": Sasha Lane on Fate, Breakdowns, and Living Her Truth

From Cleopatra’s beaded headdress to Diana Ross’s iconic afro, hair has been an emblem of power, rebellion, and pride throughout history. In our new series, Stranded, we’re profiling people whose strands tell a story.

If you’re lucky, you’ll experience at least one moment in your life that will make you believe in fate—something that proves your existence isn’t a series of random, disconnected events, but rather small puzzle pieces that eventually fit together to create a whole, finished product reflective of your life’s greater purpose. It can happen in a way that feels earth-shattering or as mundane as bumping into a stranger at a bar who ends up being so much more. For Sasha Lane, it happened while she was sunbathing.

The Texas State University psychology undergrad was lying out in the balmy Florida heat during spring break when director Andrea Arnold spotted her and decided in that moment she had found the perfect lead for her movie, American Honey (Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough had already been cast). Whatever Arnold spotted in Lane during that crucial, sun-drenched moment—was it her beauty, a mixture of innocence and knowledge, or the rawness of someone so completely unaware of her own magnetism?—translated through her camera lens. Lane was praised by critics for her mesmerizing portrayal of Star, a dreadlocked teen who escapes her troubled home life and finds love and heartbreak in a vagabond group selling magazine subscriptions in the Midwest.

Speaking of dreadlocks, it’s hard not to describe Sasha Lane without mentioning her hair. Piled on top of her head, braided, or twisted into two buns, her locks feel like an extension of her very being. She talks to them, nurtures them, and feels “connected” to them. She had them when Arnold spotted her sunbathing, kept them throughout the movie as part of Star’s persona, and tells us she literally can’t imagine living without them. With a rich history that spans biblical times and Rastafarian culture, dreadlocks nowadays often come with negative connotations for the unschooled (who can forget Giuliana Rancic’s ignorant remark about Zendaya’s dreadlocked hair reminding her of “patchouli and weed”?). But for Lane, they represented something else entirely: beauty. “I remember watching this movie, 10,000 BC, and I saw they all had locks, and I was like, yo, that’s beautiful,” she reminisces. “It was just so beautiful to see, like, a tribe of them—all of these locks.” She hasn’t changed her hair since.

Even though she feels like she came into her own after donning dreads, the puzzle pieces didn’t just instantly start fitting together—the opposite, actually. Lane has been vocal about the crushing anxiety and depression she experienced in the days following her “greater-purpose” moment that catapulted her from college student to Cannes darling. Even today as she gears up for new projects (she’s starring alongside Chloë Grace Moretz in the upcoming drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post), sits front-row during Fashion Week, and amasses a fan base that looks up to her and her mixed heritage and dreadlocks as a hopeful sign that finally—finally—Hollywood might be widening its narrow beauty ideal, it's not all smooth sailing. She admits that there are days when it’s all still a struggle to get out of bed, when having two breakdowns before lunch isn’t out of the ordinary. It’s this honesty that makes Lane part of the new school of celebrities—ones who are flawed, complicated, messy, and human like the rest of us, and aren’t afraid to own it; ones who prove that you can be broken and fragile but also strong, ferocious, and altogether unapologetic.

Heads-up to the haters: Sasha Lane and her locks aren’t going anywhere.

Keep scrolling to read Lane’s hair journey in her own words.

Photographer: Ami Sioux
Photo Assistant: Andres Norwood
Hairstylist: Nai'vasha Johnson for Exclusive Artists using Oribe Hair Care
Makeup Artist: Janice Kinjo for Exclusive Artists using Chanel Palette Essentielle
Manicurist: Stephanie Stone
Stylist: Kendal Mae Boyle
Styling Assistant: Natalie Hoselton