“I’d love to be in a comedy. I always laugh at my own jokes, and despite no one actually telling me that I’m funny, I am just going to ignore that fact and pursue my dream of working with Amy Schumer or Tina Fey.”
Ruby Rose Langenheim, 30, better known as Ruby Rose, is an Australian model, DJ, recording artist, actress, television presenter, and former MTV VJ. Rose emerged in the media spotlight as a presenter on MTV Australia, followed by several high-profile modelling gigs, notably as the face of Maybelline New York in Australia. In addition to her modelling career, she has co-hosted various television shows, namely Australia’s Next Top Model and The Project on Network Ten.
Rose pursued a career in acting from 2008 onwards, with her debut performance in the Australian film Suite for Fleur. In 2013, she had a small role in the drama Around the Block. She appeared in seasons three and four of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, and received praise for her work. She has also made appearances in action films such as Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, John Wick: Chapter 2, and will be appearing in the film Meg, based on the novel of the same name.
Rose first gained fame by joining the Girlfriend model search in 2002, which she came in second to Catherine McNeil. In 2010, she collaborated with the Australian fashion label Milk and Honey to design a capsule fashion line, which embodies her unique style and personality. The collection, named Milk and Honey Designed by Ruby Rose, includes washed jeans, leather jackets and T-shirts with unique designs. The newly created clothing line is available in selected retailers in Australia. In addition to designing for Milk & Honey, Rose also released a collaboration collection with street footwear brand Gallaz.
In 2014, Rose began collaborating with Phoebe Dahl, designing ethical street-wear for their clothing range Faircloth Lane. She has featured predominantly within mainstream fashion titles, including Vogue Australia, InStyle Magazine, Marie-Claire Magazine, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Maxim, Nylon and New York’s Inked Magazine. Rose is the face of Maybelline New York in Australia. Since March 2016, Rose has been the face of Urban Decay Cosmetics.
Rose appeared on the first episode of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, representing Generation Y alongside comedian Josh Thomas. She was selected in 2008 to act in the Australian comedy film Suite for Fleur. She also appeared alongside Christina Ricci and Jack Thompson in the 2013 film Around the Block.
Rose credits her 2014 short film Break Free, which she produced herself, for the success of her acting career. In an interview with Variety, she describes how she was not able to get a manager, agent, or audition, so she decided to create short films “as a way of being able to give myself something to do and to study my craft.” The film went viral, getting millions of views in a short period of time. In 2015, Rose joined the Orange Is the New Black cast in Season 3. Rose plays new inmate Stella Carlin, “whose sarcastic sense of humor and captivating looks quickly draw the attention of some of Litchfield’s inmates. Rose’s performance was well received. She was also cast in a guest role, as the service robot Wendy, in the science fiction series Dark Matter.
Do you miss being a VJ on MTV?
Such good times! It was pretty iconic in its more music-based television days. Not that it isn’t doing its own thing now; it’s just different. I feel very lucky that I joined the [MTV] team when local production, music, and live performances were its foundation. I got to do ridiculously entertaining and rock star-type adventures before reality TV started to take over.
That period of time was when I said, “Alright, I’m gonna move on and do some other things.” I had done it for about 4 – 5 years, so it also seemed time; because you don’t just work at MTV—you sort of live, breathe, and sleep MTV, and it’s wild! Haha. It’s perfect for a 19 – 24-year-old.
It was spectacular to watch people come through the ranks though—seeing some of today’s top artists come out with their first single, shy and nervous and finding their footing, performing to an intimate crowd; and then the following year, the album is out and there’s buzz; and after that, they are selling out stadiums. It was inspiring. I met a lot of artists, with whom I’m still friends, who saw me every time they came to Australia. It made my job so fun because we had rapport, and the interviews would be a breeze.
Then I had a few who, on their third or fourth year, would start telling me that, as much as they loved seeing me there, they didn’t want to see me again next year. One artist in particular said, “I love you, but don’t be comfortable. You are comfortable here. Move to the States, take a risk. I think you could be something bigger. This is too easy for you.” I didn’t move to the States directly after that, but I changed careers and studied different skills that I wanted to grow as I geared up to carve out a more diverse career.
Describe what it’s like being the new “IT” girl?
The funny thing about being called an “it girl” is, well, it’s the kiss of death. You know what I mean? It’s like being “in.” Anything that’s “in fashion” ultimately goes out of fashion. So when that started being thrown around, I thought, “Oh, God. How long is this going to last before somebody else is the new it girl?” Not because I was worried I’d be left behind, but because I wanted someone else to hurry up so people would stop calling me that.
But, you just have to prove yourself through your work.
I think a lot of people don’t know how much I’ve been working since Orange Is the New Black. I’ve acted in three different films (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, John Wick 2, and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage), voiced an animated movie (Sheep’n’Wolves), and DJ’ed 70 shows in the past year. I can’t wait for people to see my other work.
So, it’s a matter of being comfortable not being everywhere for however long it takes to create new art, and [promoting things] that you are proud of, like working on your craft and new skills, and working your ass off while being quiet publicly—not just existing to be popular. You don’t want people to get sick of you, so it’s good to be able to appear and disappear.
It’s also not healthy to base your personal success or happiness on external things, like fame, attention, opinion, or money. The less you let that define you the better. Let your passion and work speak for you. As long as you are happy with it, that’s all that should matter.
How does one go about not being an “IT” girl when you are so clearly an “IT” girl?
I remember the last party that everyone was going to, and I happened to finally be back in LA after shooting a film, and I was sitting in bed with my dog and Netflix, and I asked… “Is this my life? Am I really going to sit here and watch movies by directors that I want to work with instead of going?” And then I thought, “Yeah. I am. That is my life. And I feel so blessed.”
Then I was blessed to be nominated for a SAG Award for Best Ensemble Comedy for OITNB. I wanted more than anything to be there with my OITNB family because I love them so much and wanted to celebrate with them, but I was shooting in Rome. And then we won! So the things I want to go to, I never get to go to; and the ones I can go to, I stay at home. Not sure I have that part figured out yet.
Tell us about your infamous hair style?
I shaved my head at 15 and kept it short, but when I couldn’t break into the industry, I wondered, “What if I grow my hair out a bit, and become a little bit less “Ruby” and [more] mainstream? Let me give it one last shot.”
So I grew my hair out and got the job at MTV. After six months, I wanted to cut my hair. They were great about it in the end, but in the beginning, they were hesitant, saying, “Look, you just started with us, and your hair with the bangs [and your tattoos] is a really iconic look.” I dressed very skater and punk rock too, and they were just worried because Australia can be a bit conservative.
So they asked me for some references, and I sent photos of Pink and Annie Lennox, and they said, “Yeah…Let’s give it a couple months.” So I walked to a hairdresser immediately after work and cut my hair anyway, and went to work the next day. I was 20 and apparently had a sense of urgency about everything.
They ended up loving it because they could see that it was the authentic me. I was happier and even more confident behind the camera.
Does your gender-bending style ever affect any auditions or jobs you go for?
I think it works both in my favor and to my detriment. I mean, regardless, it will always work in my favor because happiness is in being oneself.
So, for me, trying to convince a director or producer that I should play the lead in an action role—badass, street kid, lesbian, troubled type, or say, a fighter…you get the idea—that’s not the hardest challenge.
What is a more difficult challenge is convincing someone to give me a shot to transform, and to trust in my ability to lose myself in a role. There is no reason I can’t play, for example, a Stepford Mom, or play a man’s wife, or a mother or teacher.
There are roles where you can already guess who their top two picks would be, and so to get in the room with them is hard if you are literally the opposite of who they have reading for the role. Nothing is impossible, but you work harder for parts that people don’t already imagine you in. I worked very hard just to get in the room with David Fincher, and even though that project didn’t end up running, I got to audition with Fincher. That was good enough for me!
I’d love to be in a comedy. I always laugh at my own jokes, and despite no one actually telling me that I’m funny, I am just going to ignore that fact and pursue my dream of working with Amy Schumer or Tina Fey. But I don’t think I’d even be on the list after the list of their top people. Please put me on your list!
In general, do you think a lot about body image or do you just go with the flow?
I don’t drink or smoke. I am very healthy and treat my body very well. I think being strong is sexy. Being fit is important for my brain health and keeping me mentally focused.
Who is your ultimate female crush?
It’s a really tough one between Madonna and Angelina Jolie—both Angelina during Girl, Interrupted times and now and forever and ever. And Madonna too—but Madonna especially when she did the “Erotica”-era Sex book. She was such an empowered feminist icon, and the way she’s reinvented herself throughout her entire career has been mesmerizing to me. Oh, and Jennifer Lawrence, but who doesn’t?
How do you feel about the comparisons to young Leonardo DiCaprio and the Biebs?
I’m indifferent to it. I get them both so much, and then sometimes I get Angelina.
Ohhh…we like that one.
[Laughs.] Yeah, we like that one.
Justin is mostly because of how I dress. If I’m going for a skate and I have a hat on, people say, “Oh, you look like Justin.” And we do dress very similarly, but facial structure-wise, I feel like we don’t look anything alike.
Justin has tattoos and I have tattoos. But we both make fun of it—it’s not like we mean to make it continue. It’s just funny that sometimes we wear the same thing to the same place, and we’re like, “Aww man…why are we doing this to ourselves?”
But honestly, it’s such a compliment, because he’s a 21-year-old boy and I’m not 21 anymore, so that’s kind of awesome. But he’s like a little brother to me. I find Leo to be one of the most beautiful men ever, so when people compare me to him, I’m like, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”
People love to say that you turn straight women gay. What’s your reaction when they say that? Is this something people said before you were famous, too?
I’m one of those people who feels that everybody is somewhere on the spectrum. I don’t think it needs to be labeled—love is about the person.
When people say to me that I turned them gay, I just laugh, because that’s not really even a possibility. It sounds like I did something against their will in the middle of the night, as if I crept into their brain and pushed the gay button, then did an evil laugh and left them to fend for themselves—newly gay and alone in the world.
I break it down like this: Did I find Channing Tatum in Magic Mike to be extremely hot? Yes! Could I now turn straight for him without having previously ever had a desire to be with a man? The answer is, nope. Haha.
But people will say to J. Law, “I want to be your best friend,” or to T. Swift, “I want to be in your squad.” Everyone has got their little thing, and the catch phrase I got after Orange was, “She turned me gay.”
What makes me laugh is that I’m actually single and not looking at all. I’m just focused on my career. But it was very funny how many people would text photos, or slide right into my DMs for months after Orange launched. I would say, “That’s cute, but I’m pretty sure you’re straight.” And they’d say, “I am, but now I have a crush on you.” And I would respond, “I’m pretty sure I met your boyfriend at the premiere.” But then, if I actually reached out to them to get a coffee as a friend to hang, they wouldn’t ever make plans. I could literally feel them sort of wondering if “coffee” meant something different in the lesbian world. (For the record, it doesn’t, according to Ruby.)
Because they’re scared?
I mean, I don’t know. But I would be eating breakfast and my phone goes off, and I see a topless photo. And it would always be so out of the blue, and very confusing. But then I’d be in New York two months later, and I’d get a message from that same person saying, “God, I wish I could see you.” If I responded, “Oh really, I’m actually in NY this week too,” I would get radio silence. My friends and I would literally die over this—it’s just so funny. I mean, it is and it isn’t. People want to lead me on, or don’t realize they are doing it, but I can always eventually work out what is real and what is play.
I just think that, as human beings, we are drawn to what we can’t have. We are drawn to fantasy over reality, and often are in love with an idea of a situation rather than the reality of it. I think people like the idea of “turning gay for someone,” but it’s not actually that simple. Ultimately, that statement is just a form of endearment or a compliment, but it’s not real.
Story by Chaunce Hayden