India Yelich-O’Connor Is Making A Name For Herself

    because she’s so much more than lorde’s little sister

    by · January 06, 2016

    Photographed by Myles Pettengill, Styling by Chris Horan, Makeup by Jenna Kristina at TMG-LA, Hair by Michael Dueñas at TMG-LA // leopard coat: Topshop, cashmere t-shirt:The Elder Statesmen, jeans: A.P.C., sunglasses: Karen Walker

    A few years ago, America fell hard for Lorde. Now, India Yelich-O’Connor, the baby sis of New Zealand’s greatest export, is coming into her own—and in a very big way. At 17, she’s already dabbled in singing, acting, and modeling. In addition, the teenage beauty is blessed with a natural sense of fashion that her budding fan base is desperately trying to emulate. And what makes her even more adorable is that her personal style icons are every ’90s teen girl’s heroes, Carrie Bradshaw, Rachel Green, and Cher Horowitz.

    During a recent trip to Los Angeles, the aspiring actress posed for magazine photo shoots, tooled around the city in a flashy sports car, and mingled with several casting directors. She returned home with a script in hand, which she’s currently considering, and stars in her eyes. “I guess you could say I have always been an actor! I’m the most dramatic one in my family,” she says enthusiastically. And aside from her dreams of landing a “solid role in a film or TV series,” India recently revealed that she can also hold her own in the musical world. After uploading a “just for fun” cover of “Say Something” on to Spotify, she was shocked to find that the track garnered over 887,000 streams.

    With so many options ahead of her, India could not be more excited. “It feels like everything is about to happen for me,” the cheerful Kiwi says of her future. But first, her parents made her promise that she’ll set her sights on graduating high school. “I am lucky that I can fit all my work into my school schedule, but I end up having to work twice as hard because I don’t want my grades to slip,” says the rising star. And in addition to tiptoeing into the career world, India has been busy balancing her long-term boyfriend, daily walks with her pups, and beach-house getaways with her large and boisterous family.

    We caught up with India to discuss her career ambitions, raiding her famous sister’s closet, and her response to the rumors of her lips being fake.

    Photographed by Myles Pettengill // leopard coat: Topshop, cashmere t-shirt:The Elder Statesmen, jeans: A.P.C., sunglasses: Karen Walker

    Talent seems to really run in your family. You’ve done some singing, modeling, acting, and are very into fashion. Where do your interests lie?
    I am currently in my last year at school and my parents expect me to finish! I am lucky that I can fit all my work into my school schedule, but I end up having to work twice as hard because I don’t want my grades to slip. Recently, I flew into L.A. for magazine shoots and I pretty much had to start working and then turn it around and fly out five days later. And then go to school. I’ve done that two times now and it’s kind of hard after a 13-hour flight. On the last trip to L.A., I went to talk to a casting director. I am really keen to act or maybe even have some sort of presenting role. A script came in straight after that meeting and I have just finished reading it now. It meant that I had to buy the novel that the script is based on and read that first so I could get a better understanding of the character. It feels like everything is just about to happen for me.
    Do you see yourself locating to Los Angeles at any point in your future?
    Oh my god, yes! I would love to live in L.A. It’s the most rad city—everything is green and noisy and hot and it seems like it is permanently lit up in neon lights. I don’t think anything closes, does it? I have a couple of friends in L.A., one of them has a red convertible Mustang and she’s 17 like me. It blew my mind when she came to pick me up from Chateau Marmont where I was staying. We just did regular teenager stuff like shopping for makeup, going to Sprinkles Cupcakes—nothing major, but it was amazing to just have those experiences, and to be able to just drive around and take in L.A.

    Photographed by Myles Pettengill // jacket and skirt: Topshop, shoes: Nicholas Kirkwood, bracelets: Nocturne

    You’ve mentioned wanting to possibly pursue a career in acting. What types of projects would you like to do?
    I guess you could say I have always been an actor. I’m the most dramatic one in my family. One of the first acting roles I ever had was in a musical. I had to act and sing the part of Ursula the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid. Something happened when I was in that role. I was only about seven, but it was the first time I felt something light up in me and I owned that character. If I’m on a stage singing or acting in a play, I am always chasing that feeling. I don’t know what it is but I love it.
    For now, I would really like a solid role in a film or TV series. I am a big reader and I often think that the sorts of books I like to read would make great films. I don’t like reading junk. I wouldn’t want to act in a weak role. But right now, though, I’d probably take anything [laughs].
    Your cover of “Say Something” has hit 887K listens on SoundCloud. Did you ever see it getting that much attention?
    It was crazy. I remember being at home and the house was quiet, which is unusual because I come from a big family. Everyone was out. I was mucking around in my room with GarageBand, and I just thought I would have a go at that song “Say Something.” I really like it because the harmonies are so on point and it’s a simple, beautiful song. The more I got into it, the more I liked what I was doing. I was only 14! I wasn’t thinking about an audience or anything like that. I don’t regret the way I recorded it—all that crackly sound in the background. It shows I came up with it when I was quite young and my voice was raw and unedited. I had so much fun, so I put it on SoundCloud. I truly didn’t think anyone would hear it. It was just that little recording and when I went back to see if anyone had actually listened, I honestly couldn’t believe the media attention. It went from 40 to 40K! Then the media picked up on it. Then I stopped following the stats, but yes, it grew bigger than what I imagined.

    Photographed by Myles Pettengill // jacket and skirt: Topshop, shoes: Nicholas Kirkwood, bracelets: Nocturne

    Do you have any plans to follow in your sister’s footsteps and embark upon a singing career? Or are you just experimenting with it for fun right now?
    Right now, I am just trying to really figure out what I want to do. There’s no rush, and so I am keeping all my options open. I love singing. If I could combine singing and acting in the one role—perfect. I would never say never to either option.
    Would you ever collaborate on a song with Lorde? Do you ever make music together or sing around the house just for fun?
    I’ve got three siblings. We are always singing around the house and we are always fighting over who gets to put a song on. When we are doing the dishes at night, we are definitely always singing and dancing around. Music is the biggest thing in this house. We are a very loud family, but we are not the Partridge family!
    You are a self-proclaimed fashion lover. What do you appreciate most about fashion and how to you express yourself through it?
    I love fashion. Every teenager loves fashion. Fashion is a great way to express myself. When I wear an outfit I love, it gives me power and confidence. I only ever try and please myself and I wear clothes and fashion statements for just me. I like to mix and match, and I am so lucky that I get to choose from my sister’s wardrobe. She has tons of clothes and very beautiful things. I love mixing her Armani or whatever with my Topshop shifts or even thrift-shop clothing. I don’t really care what it is as long as I like it and I feel like it goes with my whole outfit. I go for more edgy style but chic. Think street-style concert attire meets Clueless. Right now, I have two pairs of Yeezy Season 2 boots, khaki and off-white. I am so lucky. They are definitely the coolest things I own. I am pretty much working all my outfits around them.

    Photographed by Myles Pettengill // pants: Kempner, top: Solace London, bomber jacket: Topshop, shoes: Tory Burch, bracelets: Nocturne

    Do you have a style icon?
    I just love Cher Horowitz from Clueless and Carrie Bradshaw from The Carrie Diaries and Sex and the City. I really love Rachel Green from Friends, especially the hair...killer! Also I love Kanye’s line. And I also love everything Dior. I saw the Dior film at the cinema with my best friend. It was one of those films that can’t help but change you; it left such an impression on me.
    Your sister, Lorde, is also known for her trend-setting attire. What sets your style apart from hers? Do you raid each other’s closets?
    Ella has incredible clothing and since we are practically the same size, I always find myself pinching stuff from her room. My favorite thing to help myself to was her Dolce & Gabbana floral skirt. I took it to L.A. with me for a photo shoot. I often sneak her Chanel handbags. It is safe to say that she has the dopest wardrobe ever, and I find myself exposed to brands that a regular teenager would not be.
    The Yelich-O’Connor ladies all have such fabulous hair. What’s the secret to it being so full and healthy?
    I don’t know that answer to that question. Our hair is just naturally thick. I put argon oil on the ends and get regular haircuts, but the fullness is just down to genes. One thing I do know is that my dad has to every so often unblock all the shower drains because of our hair.

    Photographed by Myles Pettengill // leopard coat: Topshop, cashmere t-shirt:The Elder Statesmen, jeans: A.P.C., sunglasses: Karen Walker

    Does it bother you that people accuse you of having lip fillers, or do you take that as a compliment?
    People thinking I have lip fillers makes me laugh so much. It’s the best compliment. These are my natural lips, that’s all there is to it. I haven’t heard any other crazy rumors, but I’m sure they’re out there.
    You recently, upon turning 17, posted a very inspirational post on your blog titled “8 Things I Have Learnt Being 16.” You talk about how hitting that milestone lent itself to a lot of personal growth and change. What would you consider to be the most important lesson of all of that you learned?
    Turning 17 means you are almost an adult. Almost. I have learnt to think more about the decisions I make and what the consequences are. I am a big diary keeper, so I am always noting down when something hasn’t gone quite right and why. I am also trying to be more patient with the people I surround myself with. Yes, patience is a big thing for me. I’m learning to slow down a little.

    Photographed by Myles Pettengill // leopard coat: Topshop, cashmere t-shirt:The Elder Statesmen, jeans: A.P.C., sunglasses: Karen Walker

    What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time?
    I am so busy these days with trying to keep on top of school work, but I really make an effort to hang with my friends and family, and of course, my boyfriend! When I do actually get spare time, it’s great to just spend a couple of hours watching reruns of Friends or 90210, painting my nails, which I do almost every day, going to the art gallery with friends, cafe hopping, walking my dogs on the beach—I try and do that most days. I love looking in the shops. I used to go horse riding most weekends but haven’t done that for a while. I wish I had more spare time.
    What did the Yelich-O’Connor clan do to ring in the New Year? Any fun family traditions?
    The family tradition we have each year is to go to our beach house where we can fish and swim and generally laze around, reading and eating or playing Monopoly if its raining. But usually, we lie on the beach for hours just talking and soaking up the sun. Every night, we always have a big family dinner with lots of freshly caught seafood. Lots of neighbors usually come by our place until quite late at night. It’s like one big party spread over a couple of weeks. Our beach house is really basic, as in no Internet and we only have a few power points. We don’t have a TV and the shops are 40 minutes away! It’s definitely a place to chill.
    Styling: Chris Horan
    Makeup: Jenna Kristina at TMG-LA
    Hair: Michael Dueñas at TMG-LA
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    Last updated: 2016-01-07T16:09:11-05:00
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