Going Deeper: With Laura Mae Bowes

Going Deeper: With Laura Mae Bowes

Laura Mae Bowes has had a fairly fascinating start to life. The 21-year-old has had an unconventional childhood, from boarding schools, to stepping in front of the camera with a heap of turbulent brilliance packed in between, it would be thought that the rapidly-rising career of the model/actress has all been figured out. Having just finished her first, world-premiered acting gig in recent weeks, Laura is heading to the stars… But we wanted to know how her journey has led her there.

Having began her academic life at an all-girls boarding school outside of her hometown of York, England, Laura stepped away from social expectations and ‘norms’ as soon as she was aware of how to. Growing up on the sounds of Fleetwood Mac and ACDC, her individualism brought backlash and bullies, but in return - thicker skin, and an underlying flare that has seen her prosper in numerous walks of life; whether that be on the camera, the journalism world, or her training to become a legal barrister. 

Now here at BODA, we love those who go against the grain. We love individuals. We love stories. Life isn’t for conforming, it’s for defying the odds and overcoming challenges in any walks of life - this is what Laura stands for. 

So before she makes her debut appearance in one of the world’s biggest pictures (unfortunately, we can’t name just yet for legal reasons), we wanted to hear her story. We recently sat down with Laura to talk about all things modelling, music, her childhood and her experiences in THAT first acting gig.

BODA SKINS: So, how are you, Laura? Life seems like it has really begun to take off for you recently.

LAURA: I think it's one of those things, recently, it’s gone mad and I’ve done really well… It’s kind of shocking! Half of my mindset is like “wow this is amazing,” and the other half is like “what the fuck is going on!” [laughs], but it’s just about getting used to it. Then obviously, with lockdown and everything else that’s been going on, I’ve been used to not going out and socialising. So partnering that up with now being able to go out, along with everything else that’s going on, my head’s been all over the place… But in an exciting way.

Taking it back to the beginning, talk to us about your childhood, and more specifically your school life.

Laura: I’m from York, but I went to school in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by fields. I only actually got to know York when I was like 20 because all of my mates live all over the country. 

But yeah, I was born in York, then I went to boarding school from 3 years old. The school was very sporty - I loved hockey and netball, I was super competitive, but I was really into drama, that was my thing. 

While attending a boarding school, did you realise that you were experiencing a more unconventional academic journey?

I think there was an element of it feeling different, but I didn’t know any different at the time if that makes sense. I went to a mixed boarding school at 16, but from 3 to 16, I was just surrounded by girls which is great when you’re younger, but when I got older I realised that I’m not a girl’s girl.  All of my friends are guys, but then the benefit of being in such a small school was the ability to have really intense interactions with anything you wanted. If I was really arty, you could go to the art room and have an hour at lunch time, which was really good and encouraging.

But then when you go into the wider world, and especially being an only child - that’s when it became quite scary. 

It was hard too because since the modelling from like 13, 14 I got shockingly bullied as well, so at the time it was obviously really bad, but then leaving and growing up, it was the best thing I ever did. I’m so happy that they did that now though, because it’s made me who I am today.

What inspired you when you were younger?

At the same time as being creative, I also wanted to be a barrister. But it’s always been Audrey Hepburn, that kind of genre. Always elegant… I love Angelina Jolie. That’s the sort of classy, sexy vibe that I’ve always gravitated towards. In terms of movies and stuff, I never really thought about it until I was like 18. Music, it was always like Fleetwood Mac, ACDC, Led Zeppelin… A bit of everything. But I never took any of it seriously, in terms of pursuing it, until people told me. 

You say you were bullied at school, did this come from the fact that you were so individual compared to the rest of the girls who were the same age?

The initial backlash of being different came from girls. I think that being different from the other girls gave me that backlash, and if I had been more like them then it probably would have lessened, I think it was made 60% worse off the back of going my own way and doing my own thing, because nobody else found it cool at that time. So that definitely made it worse. 

But following the journey you went on with that, you quickly began to make appearances in front of the camera as a model. How was that experience as a whole for you?

I think it was quite surreal. When you’re at school, you have kids picking on you for what you look like, and then you have adults saying you’re this and you’re that, so it was very contrasting. It was very exciting and I found it very natural, I didn’t particularly find it hard. I’ve always been good in front of the camera and in front of people… That’s never been an issue. But the thing that I found weird was that they wanted to take photos of me. I thought, are they joking? Is this one big joke? Why do they want me… That’s weird. So being in front of the camera, that was easy. It was just the psychological parts of it that I found tough. 

Did your interest for acting spark off the back of your modelling work?

To be honest with you, I have always wanted to do more. Modelling is great, and I’ve always enjoyed it, but there’s a reason why I always do music videos more than traditional modelling. But I always wanted to do more, I’ve wanted to work with huge directors, but these big people who I’ve worked with, they’ve told me, yeah modelling is great, but you have this aura about you that needs to be put in front of a screen. 

So, I found it even easier than modelling. If there’s a camera there in front of us right now, I wouldn’t be bothered… I find that even more comfortable than modelling. I don’t know why, but yeah [laughs].

So how did your first acting job come about then?

Well I was working on a music video, and long story short, the assistant director told me that they needed someone for this gig. Then, I got the call and I was shitting myself [laughs], I was absolutely petrified. 

I hadn’t met any of the cast, and I was wearing very little [laughs]. As I walked in, obviously, all the big stars were there and this director, and they were all really small! It was like… The only way I can describe it is like this - you know when you have an exam? And you’re in the car, and you’re terrified, and as soon as you sit down, it’s all fine! So as I walked in, all of my initial nerves went and it was fine. 

I did all I needed to do, I kissed certain people, and it was weird! Then I spoke to the director and he told me I needed to go places, so I went to his house and since then we’ve become really good friends. He just told me that I’ve got it! I don’t have a clue what I did, I don’t know what I did to impress anyone… But yeah.

It sounds silly, but modelling is the space where I really think about it, but when it comes to acting, I feel like I’m not working hard… even though I am - it just feels so natural. For example, modelling e-commerce, I find that so much harder, boring. I don’t like it. If I don’t enjoy it, there’s no passion, so I find it difficult. 

What’s your piece of advice for the people who want to pursue a career in anything, but may not have the confidence to do so...

It would be, at the end of the day, if you start doing well, people aren’t going to like you for it. If you’re doing well, you’re going to start to lose friends. People are always going to have something to say about it. So I would say, don’t let people’s words get in your head. That goes for anything… Whether you want to be a doctor, or anything. If you want to do anything, just do it!

As your success has grown over recent times, have your relationships changed with those around you?

Yeah, I’ve had to disconnect myself with so many people. It’s sad, but it’s more sad when it’s from the people closest to you. Say I’m on a night out, and as soon as there’s a bit of attention, people refuse to even have a coffee with me after because they say, “oh you made me feel really bad about myself,” but you can’t do anything about that. So I would say to any girl or guy, if people are saying stuff to you, just ignore them honestly. But you can really see, I’m not saying I’m there yet, but I’m already beginning to see signs of why the people at the top say it’s lonely. But it’s also not, because you have to make sure you’re good people are around you.

Is there anything specific that you would change about the film/modelling industry?

There’s the obvious one of being a girl. The expectations that come with it… We need something that isn’t done for social expectations. You want the industry to employ people not so they just look politically correct, but because they judge people from their talents and nothing else. 

Is there anything specific that you would change about the film/modelling industry?

There’s the obvious one of being a girl. The expectations that come with it… We need something that isn’t done for social expectations. You want the industry to employ people not so they just look politically correct, but because they judge people from their talents and nothing else. 

I think it’s going that way, but I think people need to be aware of the fact that they are looking at such a person because they have an incredible skill, an incredible talent… So ignore how people look and just hire them purely off the skills that they bring to the table. But yeah, I think we have gone from 1 extreme to the other, but I think we’re eventually going to find a middle ground.

Being only 21 years old, how has your family come to terms with your success, and how have they been with you when growing up?

When I was younger, they were slightly more protective, purely down to what I went through, but yeah, Daddy’s little girl… He maybe doesn’t like the idea of his daughter being a little bit sexy, he’s like “no, no, no! You’re still 2 in my eyes [laughs],” but he gets it. But my parents as a whole, always been brilliant, they drove me everywhere. But I think my dad is a little bit intimidated by me now - in a nice way! I just think that he can’t believe who I am!

Has there ever become a moment where your parents have had to suggest that you look towards other lines of work if the dream doesn’t quite work out?

I think my parents have always thought about a plan B… I did journalism at uni, so I’ve always had that. But I think they’ve always seen something in me and they never bullshit me. They’ve always told me the honest truth, and they’ve never once told me that I need to pack it in, they’ve always said, “well, you’ve got a plan B, just keep going,” even if I was a journalist, I’d still want to be an actor on the side, I’d just be writing for Vogue! [laughs]. But yeah, when I’m 30 or something, I’d love to have a little column. 

As life has continued to change for you, moving towards a more celebrity lifestyle, how have you handled that mentally?

I think I'm a tough cookie. I think I have gone through every single stage of life getting more intense. I think I have had one week of life going “oh my god, this is fucking intense,” but in terms of life in general, I think I’m becoming more prepared every single day. In the last 6 months, I have grown up so much, both personally and physically, you know, I’m only 21, so I’m still maturing, I’m growing into my face… So now, I feel like I’ve adjusted to every new stage that has come to me. That’s down to my parents though, why I seem older. My parents have always been… Party animals. Growing up, they would have these parties and I would be sitting there at 6 months old in my nighty, surrounded by adults. So, I’m used to hanging out with adults… It’s just how I’ve grown up. 

As a child, I think every toddler has had a dream of becoming a famous movie star, singer, footballer… Anything. Did you grow up with that mentality?

No… It’s weird. You know what, part of me was never interested in fame. But a part of me wanted a tiny bit of recognition for against what people were saying. It would be like, so if I can get recognition for the things that these people picked on me for, then they can all go to hell. 

I wanted to be an Olympic racing horse rider, then I wanted to be a barrister… All of my A Levels were chosen towards becoming a barrister. Fairness was always more important to me, I’ve always wanted equality, and welfare for animals. So I’ve always said, If I become super famous, and on the red carpet, that’s exactly what I want to stand for. But to answer your question, I have always wanted to be in this line of work because I love it, it was never just for fame.

What’s the end goal for you, what do you want for yourself when at the twilight of your career?

I want to write. I would love to have my own magazine, I want to be doing a movie a year, kinda like Jennifer Lawrence... But I want to dabble in everything. I want to have my own brand, and have my own business. I want to use my brain in other ways rather than just creatively. I want to have a couple of houses, I want one in Bali - one of my favourite places. I want a horse.

Dogs, a horse and quite a chill lifestyle. I want to have so many things going on, but have an amazing personal life, and I want to keep it private. I want to do a Daniel Craig, I want my life to be kept quiet… He has a wife and a family, and you don’t hear about it. But 2 years ago, I would’ve said something different, so god knows what I’ll say in 5 years. But I’ve figured out, the less you plan things, the more things start to do better. 

And finally, one of our trademark questions here on Going Deeper, what’s your life motto?

Be yourself, because the original is worth more than a copy.

Follow Laura on Instagram at @lauramaebowes