You may know Hannah from her role in one of Netflix’s most successful series ever, but there are more than thirteen reasons why she made our list of the most inspiring young women today. She’s not your typical Los Angeles starlet: instead of hard partying, Hannah uses her platform to spread body positivity and self-love. She’s seen firsthand how hard life can be for young girls today, and wants to continue her impact after graduation by pursuing a career in education. For these reasons and more, Hannah is a true role model.
What impact has being in front of a camera from a young age had on you?
When I was 13 years old, I was told by casting directors that they needed me to “stretch out” in order to be suitable for a role. This coded interaction instructing me to grow and lose weight was shocking and defining. Having spent my childhood in front of the camera on sets in Los Angeles, I learned early on to choose confidence amidst the scrutiny of a career in TV and film.
Why did you decide to start your website? How do you hope to empower others through it?
Choosing to embrace body positivity, self love, and empowerment in a world of a size two standard and the constant pursuit of perfectionism inspired me to launch this platform. On my site, I aim to explore the struggles and triumphs that young women of this generation often face.
You appeared as Stephanie on Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why.” Why do you think the themes addressed in the show are important? How should awareness be raised about bullying, body shaming and other struggles that young people face in today’s society?
When I appeared in Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” it felt like coming full circle as the show shed light on the very real and heartbreaking truths of what it means to be a young woman in today’s culture. Throughout my acting career and since launching my platform, I’ve aimed to fight against the very themes that “13 Reasons Why” explores, such as bullying, social pressure and body shaming. The goal of my platform is to encourage others by affirming that you can pursue your passions on your own terms through confidence, joy and strength, instead of conformity and insecurity.
You’ve also decided to start an interview series called “She Shines.” What was the inspiration behind this series? Who would you hope to feature on it?
I hope to continue spreading a message of strengthening young women, creating community, and embracing beauty in imperfection. After the release of “13 Reasons Why,” and witnessing firsthand the immense yearning teens have for positive influence, value and belonging, I was inspired to launch a program showcasing women who are paving the way, achieving their dreams and staying true to who they are. I recently launched an interview series called “She Shines,” highlighting women who live out those very qualities and offer inspiration and encouragement to young readers.
What is the power of education, in your opinion? How do you hope to spread your beliefs and empower others as an educator?
I believe that quality education has the power to shape the course of young people’s entire lives and help them realize their immense worth, potential and passions. This belief that education is the key to empowerment ignited my desire to reach students in underserved communities. I have been able to bring my passions into the classroom setting by serving as an educator for the ArtsBridge program at UCLA.
What advice would you give to college women looking to pursue a career in acting?
Take advantage of every opportunity to learn, grow, and lean into your passion on campus while embracing that your college experience may be anything but typical. As a full-time student and working actor, prioritizing balance, focus and passion for both academics and acting will be key in pursuing this career.
What are your goals for after you graduate?
I hope to one day publish a YA book encouraging young women to discover their passions, own who they are, and join together to embrace confidence by sharing my own experiences as a young actress. The goal of the book would be to encourage young women to embrace being real, human, messy and beautiful.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Strong-willed, creative, inspired, dedicated, excited.
Elizabeth is a second year student at Durham University, studying Sociology and Anthropology. She is currently a News x Social Media Intern at HC headquarters in Boston and has been involved in the Durham University chapter of Her Campus since January 2018.