From The Magazine

Stephanie Hsu's Next Chapter

After her breakout role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, the actor is finding meaning in quirky and unexpected projects.

by Naomi Elias

Stephanie Hsu is in a bright room streaked with morning sunshine. She’s barefaced, wearing clear round glasses and an oatmeal-colored sweater. The California light suits her. “When I lived in New York, February was so hard,” the 33-year-old West Coast native recalls of her time at NYU. “It was like, why is this still happening? The holidays are over. Why is it so cold? On the first warm day, you would see the crocuses, the green sprouts of buds come out from the soil by the trees along the sidewalk. It was always so exciting.”

Hsu burst onto the scene as dimension-hopping villain Jobu Tupaki in 2022’s Everything Everywhere All at Once. Her now iconic hallway entrance, in which she swaggers into view wearing a crisp white Elvis suit, pink wig, bedazzled eyelids, and a pig on a leash, lit up screens and earned Hsu her first Oscar nomination — and the open doors that come with it. “The biggest gift I received from this momentary roller coaster that I’m on is getting a lot more opportunities to pitch stories that I want to tell,” the actor says.

Loro Piana jacket; Sandy Liang sweater, skirt, and belt; Brooks Brothers shirt; Casadei shoes

As such, Hsu’s follow-ups to Everything Everywhere All at Once have been cleverly idiosyncratic. “I’m drawn to things that are a little left-of-center and perhaps avant-garde, but still accessible,” she says, adding that her criteria for signing on is that projects “have a sense of playfulness to them and a well of depth.” She top-lined the 2023 raunch comedy Joy Ride as a Chinese soap star who’s living a double life. The film was directed by Crazy Rich Asians cowriter Adele Lim and promoted with the unofficial tagline “We will bring dishonor to us all,” a mischievous perversion of the iconic Mulan quote that nods to the way the film sends up tropes of Asian women in media. She has also guested on Rian Johnson’s Peacock murder mystery series Poker Face opposite Natasha Lyonne, and in May, she will play the ambitious assistant of a movie star in the action comedy The Fall Guy, opposite Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt.

It’s a remarkable rise from just a few short years ago, when Hsu had nonspeaking or bit parts like “nervous assistant Amber” in the Netflix rom-com Set It Up. Hsu worked on Broadway for much of her twenties before landing a recurring role on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and receiving a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble cast. But an Oscar nomination changes everything. Hsu now finds herself as a crossword puzzle clue in The New York Times and is in demand outside of Hollywood, with Kate Spade selecting her as the face of its Spring 2024 campaign. It was a natural partnership: The collection’s florals appealed to Hsu, as did its flashes of humor. When the brand invited her to their office in New York City, she recalls being drawn to their whimsical designs, including a pair of flats that had ketchup packets knitted into them. (“One of them was spitting ketchup, and they were so cute.”)

Loro Piana jacket; Sandy Liang sweater, skirt, and belt; Brooks Brothers shirt; Jenny Bird earrings; Casadei shoes

Lately, seeking “comfort and slowness” amid her crazy schedule, Hsu has gotten into reading poetry. When I ask about her ambitions going forward, she recites lines from Eileen Myles’ poem “Peanut Butter” from memory.

I am / absolutely in opposition / to all kinds of / goals. I have / no desire to know / where this, anything / is getting me. / When the wa- ter / boils I get / a cup of tea. / Accidentally I / read all the / works of Proust.

It is an idea that resonated with Hsu. “As I get older, there are visions I have that you have to put weight behind in order to accomplish, like, I have a show that I’m writing with my best friend that I would like to sell this year,” she says. “But, I also appreciate the gentle magic and wildness of living.”

Top image credit: Kate Spade jacket, sweater, shirt, shoes, bag, and ring

Photographs by Alex Harper

Styling by Stephanie Sanchez

Set Designer: Cody Rogers

Hair: Dennis Gots

Makeup: Allan Avendaño

Manicure: Queenie Nguyen

Tailor: Hasmik Kourinian

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Editor in Chief: Lauren McCarthy

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert