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Newcomer Sasha Lane captivates in coming-of-age film ‘American Honey’

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
Newcomer Sasha Lane captivates in coming-of-age film ‘American Honey’
Sasha Lane (left) and Shia LaBeouf star in “American Honey.” (Photo: Photo: Courtesy A24)

Sasha Lane hadn’t planned on becoming an actress. A student at the University of Texas, Lane was celebrating spring break with friends on Panama City Beach in Florida when she was spotted by Academy Award-winning British writer and director Andrea Arnold (“Transparent”) and two other women who were looking to re-cast the lead role for Arnold’s upcoming project, “American Honey.”

The role of Star had previously been cast with another teen from West Virginia in 2015, but at the last moment, she dropped out. On being offered the lead in the film, “I thought it was a scam, like porn or something, but my friends were all looking it up,” said Lane, who was in Boston recently on a promotional tour for the film. “I was just kind of like, ‘whatever.’ When I told [Arnold] she could come back to my hotel room that night, I didn’t actually think she would.”

But there was something about the women and their energy that made Lane trust them. Plus, the timing was right. “I was at a point in life where I didn’t have anything to lose. I was in that mode of ‘whatever happens’ and also I had a feeling that something was missing. I also had a feeling that something amazing that had to do with fulfilling my purpose was going to happen,” said the first-time actress.

Although Lane is only 21, she seems more like an old soul, quite comfortable in her certainty of who she is. “I’m always telling people I feel like an old tree” she remarked. “I feel I have lived so many lives.”

Lane relishes letting life take its course and being free to think and feel. She says she is grateful for the opportunity to channel that into her character, Star, who is on her own path to figuring out her life and who she is. Star is doing this while on the road traveling through the Midwest with a “mag crew,” a group of workers around her own age, selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door during the day and partying hard at night. Led by the tough, money-driven Krystal (Riley Keough), and the charismatic Jake (Shia LaBeouf), the crew lives life day-to-day, never knowing where they may end up or what may come next.

That uncertainty of not knowing what would happen next was very much a part of Lane’s experience during the shoot. Arnold, who was rewriting the script and giving her notes on a daily basis, kept Lane in the moment as they were filming. “It was mirroring life,” recalls Lane. “I love that. I love being free.” Although at times it was scary and frustrating, she learned to go with the flow and appreciate the moment, she said.

Now that she’s completed her first film, Lane is certain that acting is part of her journey in life. “I feel like the reason I’m here and the reason I’m in it is, one, a personal thing. I get to embrace everything that’s in my mind and how I am,” said Lane. She’s looking forward to being able to create art and to connect with people, and as someone who is conscience of staying present and in the moment, the one thing that Lane knows for sure is that she wants to bring “something new, something fresh, something real and something genuine” to the world.

“American Honey” is now in theaters nationwide.