In Baz Luhrman's sensory-saturated cinematic masterpiece, The Get Down, Herizen Guadiola portrays protagonist Mylene Cruz, a sheltered girl from a religious family yearning to break out and realize her dreams of ascending to disco stardom. Guadiola herself is preparing to cut her first EP — but that is where the similarities between her and Mylene terminate. Guadiola, 20, is a Miami native of Cuban and Jamaican descent who reflects on her upbringing being "enchanting" and "free and loving."
With a name like Herizen, pronounced like the where the sky and water meet in a circular fashion, if you subscribe to that belief, Guadiola admits she had a bohemian upbringing. (Growing up, her house was painted in red, gold, and green.) This nonconformist spirit was met with unconventional austerity, a polarity that led to her own teenage rebellion, not unlike Mylene (or, say, the average teenager). And although Guadiola is vastly different from her character, the intertwining coming-of-age stories provide subtle parallels commonplace among the pubescent set — and consequently, a feeling of universal relatability for all who encounter their stories.
On the heels of her first fashion campaign with denim giant True Religion, Guadiola spoke with us about her personal style, the one trend she can't stand, and why she's retreated to the dense forests of Oregon in the wake of her growing fame.
What was your upbringing like?
I was brought up in a musical family. My dad's a reggae musician, he's also Rastafarian and my mom is a Buddhist. I kinda grew up in this hippie home with a lot of conservative rules, which is kinda funny. Nonetheless, very just free and loving. I'm a vegetarian now, I grew up vegan. I am a musician, I'm actually working on an EP right now. The Get Down is one of my first acting things I've ever done. I grew up around animals a lot, I'm a horseback rider. I grew up going to Renaissance fairs. I really like Renaissance and jesting and archery and stuff like that. I really love magic. That was just something that my mom really instilled in my sisters and I, keeping your mind-state in a magical place. That's kinda my motto in a way.
Where do you live now?
I live in Oregon, in Eugene. I was living in LA for five years but it really felt like, like my creativity is kinda stifled in the city. So I came out to the woods, and it's really helping for me. I have family and friends that I grew up with in Miami that live here and I don't know i just really wanted to be in the forest. I felt like it was time for me to grow my music and start writing, and I just feel better out here. I'm happy I came out here, it's a nice place to come home to.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
No, actually. I really like vintage clothes, I don't like wearing things everyone else wears. Of course when I have to go to premieres and stuff like that it's really fun having big designers dress me, that's when I have more fun with it. As I'm getting older, I'm venturing into fashion more but I'm still sticking with my kinda rocker-hippie vibe, I would say.
I'm sure its been a whirlwind experience blowing up with this Netflix series. Have you found you dress differently now or are interested in fashion in a different way than before?
This whole experience has opened my eyes to a lot of new things but I feel I'm even more myself now after the show because I'm comfortable going back to the basics and how i was brought up. It's where I'm healthy.
What’s your style philosophy?
I just wear what I like, I don’t like to buy into the masses a lot. I like to support small business and things that catch my eye, and there aren’t a lot of things that do that in the fashion world because it seems corrupted to me in a way.
What’s the vibe of your upcoming EP?
It’s very difficult to say because I feel like I have a whole ‘nother style that I haven’t heard anyone else have. It’s electronic and it’s very mellow and very wavy. But I’m also very influenced by EDM, so it has really hard-hitting bass, and I’m really inspired by a lot of trap music, too, so it kind of incorporates all of that.
Is there a trend right now you really hate?
One thing I really don’t like is lip injections. I guess anything that kind of alters how you naturally are, I don’t know, I don’t vibe with. I feel when you’re brought here, you’re perfect the way you are. So I guess I don’t really vibe with that. Also being a vegetarian, I really don’t like fur. I feel like people are starting to wear that again, and I’m not really game for that either.
On The Get Down, Mylene's wardrobe was a vehicle for setting her free. Do you feel that fashion is expressive for you in your own life?
I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts or watch TV or listen to hip-hop growing up or anything on the radio pretty much. I was only allowed to listen to reggae, classic rock, doo-wop, chanting, and classical music. So I definitely rebelled in my style. When I was younger, growing up in Miami, because I was so hippie at home, like long skirts and just flowy clothes, when I would go to my friends’ house I would wear Abercrombie mini shorts and, like, polo T-shirts, I don’t know, I had a really weird fashion. I had a girly stage, but I was pretty much a tomboy until 13, and then I started wearing mini shorts and I would have to change before I got home because if my dad saw he’d be like, “What are you wearing! Change this!” So I guess I kind of did have a Mylene rebellion stage.
Tell me a little about your campaign with True Religion.
I had a lot of fun doing that. It was the first campaign I did that’s reflecting me and not The Get Down. It was all about me and my music and my personality. I had a lot of fun doing that because I felt I could express myself. I do like the denim at True Religion, I think it’s cool and I like how they’re giving artists a platform to express themselves, and I think that’s really cool.
(Photo: Michele Marie PR/True Religion)
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