‘I’d love to play Keith Richards’ – Devon Ross on sixties chic and rock ‘n’ roll

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20 minutes into my conversation with model and actress Dion Ross, I noticed that she had the name ‘Keith’ tattooed on one of her fingers. “Yes,” says the 22-year-old, waving a cigarette helplessly. “I got it when I was too young to get a tattoo.”

This is a quote from Keith Richards. The Rolling Stones maverick is, by all accounts, Ross’s idol and it’s something that runs in the family. “My dad loves Keith,” she says. “Keith has always been our guy, he’s the guitar player. He’s our guy.”

An odd decision, perhaps, but it’s what captures Ross’s appeal. With his distinctive looks, love of sixties music and vintage aesthetic, this bright young man is a new breed of London bohemian – and his star is on the rise.

In 2021, Vogue ran an article calling her “possibly the best model in fashion right now” and her break on TV was in the Irma Vape series opposite Alicia Vikander, starting this week on Sky Atlantic. Indicates the out character.

Matt Wright

Ross is not a native Londoner, but the capital is his adopted home. As the daughter of Craig David Ross, Lenny Kravitz’s lead guitarist, and Nineties model Anna Bauer, she had an unconventional childhood in a changing roster of primary schools.

“I was going to hippie schools, which was really cool with me on vacation. Calling the teachers by their first names, no homework. That’s how I grew up.” He spent long periods on the road together, touring with his father’s band.

“My sister and I would just be backstage, entertaining ourselves,” she says. “We were just kids. It was fun — we’d get little jobs to do: in the closet, we’d pretend to sew things. Or we’d get roller blades or skateboards and skate around backstage. “

That sense of independence has stood Ross in good stead when it comes to launching and navigating his skyrocketing career. She has already walked for major fashion brands including Gucci, Simone Rocha and Valentino, bee and now she has made the transition to Prestige Television with Irma Vep.

Modeling has always had a bit of a shady side, especially in recent years with revelations about bullying and abuse of young women. But only getting into it in a big way around 2020, Ross seems to have avoided the serious side of the business.

“I mean, it’s a great experience, if you can do it and you can handle it. But it’s too much,” she says. “You have to have a good head on your shoulders; to be secure in yourself. Because if you’re not, it’s really deteriorating. You have to be very strong to do that, that’s what I’ve learned.

“There’s a lot of competition with other girls and rejection, which some people handle very well. [but] It’s a scary thing sometimes. I was just lucky to be able to do it for a few years.

Dion Ross (right) with Alicia Vikander in Irma Veep

/ Handout

When she made the leap into acting, she didn’t take any lessons, instead auditioning with a demo tape and a few Zoom calls with Irmaweep director Oliver Isayas, who directed his 1996 film of the same name. has been adapted for the small screen. . It didn’t seem to bother him.

“A lot of modeling is like acting,” she says. “I mean, for me it was: being in front of the camera, being on set loads, and people watching me. Going into a movie, the only difference was talking.

In Irma Veep, Ross plays Regina, the sarcastic assistant to Vikander’s star Mira Harburg, an American actress who has come to Paris to star in the TV version of the silent film serial Les Vampires. The pair spent a lot of time together on set – Ross described Vikander as “sweet” – while the rest of the cast and crew supported her without babying her. This first acting experience was a great introduction to a whole new world, including walking La Croisette in Cannes with Tom Sturridge and allowing him to pursue acting as a full-time career.

Despite her growing fame, Ross seems unfazed by the whole concept of celebrity. She has a relaxed relationship with social media – despite having more than 100,000 Instagram followers, “I don’t let it get to me”, she says, finding it too easy – and her early years on the road gave her life Prepared for In the spotlight, as well as the negative effects of celebrity.

“I grew up watching this stuff,” she says. “Not in a bad way at all. I didn’t have to face anything terrible, but I had to face real life, which was good. Because I knew what not to do.”

Having just moved to London’s Portobello Road, it looks like she’s living here for the rest of her life. If nothing else, it’s the perfect home for a woman who has been obsessed with vintage music since childhood.

Along with her boyfriend, actor Earl Cave (Nick’s son), the pair spend their days tracking down vinyl records and creating music at home – Ross is an accomplished guitarist and is trying to form her own band, which can also be traced. Back to my father’s influence.

“The first song that was playing when I was born was Neil Young or something,” she says. Literally from the second I was out of the womb, I didn’t really have a choice: he would just play the same stuff. And that’s all I knew.”

Dion Ross and Earl Cave at a dinner to celebrate the relaunch of ES Magazine in February this year

/ Dave Bennett

Even today, she says she barely listens to any music that isn’t from the Sixties – and her own aesthetic is distinctly vintage, gleaned from the many charity shops that line the length of Portobello Road. is enhanced with designer pieces. She is a model after all.

The fact is that many of his heroes are from Britain. As well as Richards, Beatles stalwart George Harrison is also an inspiration – while living in London is the fulfillment of a long-held dream.

“Growing up, I think that’s probably how people feel about going to America: like, ‘Whoa, I have to go there!'”

“London is dirty. I’ve always wanted to live in London. And when I first got here I was like, ‘Everything looks like The Beatles!'” he said, waving his hand. Every day, I still feel that way. Abbey Road is very close to our home.

With a life so steeped in rock ‘n’ roll, does she envision that bleeding into her acting roles? “I would love to play Patti Smith,” she says.

Matt Wright

However, there is one problem: lack of diversity. “I think there’s a lot of biopics coming out, like the Stones thing, the Sex Pistols thing, they’re all about guys. Male actors get to play rock stars all the time. And I love that. , why don’t we play rock stars? I want to be a rock star. I don’t want to be a girlfriend.” The character of his dreams is a bit of a surprise at this point, though perhaps it shouldn’t be. “I mean, I’d love to play with Keith Richards one day.”

Ross doesn’t blink at the suggestion that she’s done more in her life than most people her age or, really, at any age. “I always want to do more,” she says. “To me, it doesn’t feel like I’ve done enough. I want to make an album, I want to film, I want to do more TV – I just want to do more.

Irmaweep is now on Sky.