The Hollywood Portfolio Film

What Is Hollywood Obsessed With? Watch Charles Melton, LaKeith Stanfield, Yara Shahidi, and More Share Their Fixations

All clothing and accessories by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

My interviews with the seven actors in CULTURED's Hollywood Portfolio had one thing in common: Each eventually turned to the subject of dreams. It makes sense—we spoke during the sleepy in-between of late December and early January, when time loses its edges, rest takes root, and revelations bubble to the surface.

For some of these performers, dreams are a means to transcend undesirable circumstances, whether personal or systemic. LaKeith Stanfield spent his adolescence feeling hemmed in by a small town, and his ability to channel the unexpected—now a pillar of his acting style—was his best launchpad for an exit. Sasha Calle, who spent most of her life scraping by financially, brought me to tears when she mentioned that supporting her family felt just as fulfilling as landing a major role. Celeste O’Connor, meanwhile, sees cinema as a site of collective dreaming—an “exercise of imagination” to conjure a better, fuller future.


For others, dreams are a wild garden that requires careful tending. Austin Abrams has grappled with the extremes of a fickle industry by excising (most) expectations from his craft, resolute on staying in the present. As a child traveling through countries and cultures, Charles Melton dreamt of becoming an astronaut, a fantasy he traded in for one that allows him to revel in the human experience. Yara Shahidi, who has been acting since she was 6, is seizing the opportunity to set more quotidian goals that restore a sense of balance to her life. After developing closer relationships with film characters than real people as a child, Hadley Robinson felt she had to become one herself.

Regardless of the motivations that fuel them, each of these performers has accomplished something rare: the feat of not just breaking into the entertainment industry, but playing a part in shaping it. They are embodying roles that no one like them has ever played, using their influence to direct attention to pressing social causes, and collaborating with modern-day legends—like Meryl Streep, Jenifer Lewis, Brad Pitt, Julianne Moore, and George Clooney—so that, one day, they might carry the torch.

Taken together, their stories offer insights into an industry in flux, where who gets to make work is just as relevant as what the work is about. This new vanguard views their craft as a means not only to entertain, but to educate—not just to realize their own dreams, but to get audiences to dream bigger, too.

LaKeith Stanfield

Charles Melton

Sasha Calle

Celeste O'Connor

Austin Abrams

Yara Shahidi

Hadley Robinson

Jazmine Hughes is a National Magazine Award-winning writer based in Brooklyn, New York, and Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico.

CASTING BY Tom Macklin
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANCE BY Alizabeth Bean and Cody Rogers 
STYLIST ASSISTANCE BY Andrew McFarland, Laura Cheron Haquette, and Arianna Thode
PRODUCTION BY Giulia di Stravola
DIGITECH BY Victor Prieto
SET DESIGN BY Romain Goudinoux
VIDEO BY Larry Armstrong

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