Let’s get this tidbit of information out of the way: yes, Clara McGregor is Ewan McGregor’s daughter. But, unlike the many child heiresses before her time, she is much more than the pretty-faced spawn of a celebrity. She’s a multi-hyphenate force to be reckoned with, garnering the title of actress/director/photographer/model for major brands like Fendi and Batsheva at only 23 years of age.
But, the most impressive part of all of this? She’s one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. She frequents vintage shops around Brooklyn, hangs out at bowling alley-bar crossbreeds, and enjoys the solitude in her Greenpoint apartment, alongside her dog. But, she’s no mere basic bitch: McGregor is aware of the world around her, and the power her and fellow millennials trailing around the boroughs of New York’s metropolis and beyond embody.
“…we’re a selfless generation,” she says. “We’re really trying to fight for everyone else so we can all thrive together equally. These are all really positive aspects about our generation; we know how to make change happen.”
With her elegance, charisma, and killer style, it’s clear to see that Clara McGregor is the undefinable phenomena to keep an eye on.
We pick through the machinations of McGregor’s mind—the strength of the millennial generation, her Netflix binges, and “boy beat”—below.
Why did you decide to move to New York?
“There was nowhere else that I wanted to be. I loved being in L.A, that’s where I went to middle school and high school and spent a lot of my years of growth, but I was really ready for something else. I grew up in London until I was 12, so I was looking to go back to a city vibe. I just love New York, and I was lucky enough to be able to explore it through summer internships that I did when I was in high school. So when I was applying to college, I only applied to NYU because that’s where I truly wanted to end up.
I initially got into NYU Tisch School of the Arts for photography, and I studied that for about a year and a half. Then I decided that I wanted to be an actor, so I transferred into cinema studies to have a more academic approach to film. I also did my minor in Business of Entertainment, just to have that knowledge or the industry. And then I started taking acting classes outside of school.
I signed with Wilhelmina about two and a half years ago, I think. That’s how I started in the fashion world, and it’s been really cool and eye-opening, in a great way. It actually goes pretty hand-in-hand with acting and the film world, too. I’m finding more and more each day that those two worlds collide often. But, my main focus is acting, and I consider myself an actress. I’m hoping to do a lot more in the film world soon. I want to write, direct, and create projects, that’s my true passion.”
How do you tie your love of film and your modeling career together?
“I always try to bring my love of film into modeling. It’s just another part of me that’s an interest and passion of mine, so I bring that to the forefront. And what’s cool is also my love for photography. I switched majors but I never stopped loving photography, so to be able to work with photographers and filmmakers is thrilling. Fashion has become more than images—it’s also film, it’s a plethora of imagery. From what we’re creating online to commercials, the industries are becoming so intertwined. It wasn’t very hard for me to just go with that and go for opportunities that mend both together because it’s happening regardless.”
Now that you’re 23, how do you think you’ve evolved personally, and in terms of your sense of fashion?
“I know this is a cliche, but it’s a true cliche: I stopped caring about what other people think. Not just in fashion, but in everyday life, which means that I’ve become more adventurous in what I wear, trying new things, and finding clothes that I just feel great in and I love without the added weight of everyone else’s perspective on my outfit. It’s been freeing to get older, because I wear things for myself now and I do things for myself, as opposed to doing things for others. That’s just something I had to learn with time and with getting older. I think that’s the main thing: being positive and detoxing yourself from all of the negativity and self doubt. It just opens so many doors, in all senses, not just fashion.
Just in two to three years, it’s crazy to look back and see how much I’ve evolved. I used to wear makeup all the time, and every time I woke up I felt this need to put on makeup. Now, putting on makeup is a pretty rare moment for me, and I love that. I’m more comfortable in my own skin, but it’s obviously not all confidence all of the time. It’s just acceptance that things aren’t always going to be perfect. It’s just a matter of accepting the imperfections.”
What’s the one misconception that people have about the millennial generation?
“People always say that we’re lazy and an entitled generation, but we’re actually the most diverse and educated generation in America. That’s a major misconception, and we have a lot to show for ourselves and to prove right now. We’ve worked really hard to get to where we are in society, and what’s really cool for me to see is to see how strong the voices of the younger generations are. When we all come together it’s so exciting, and in the era of Trump and all of this turmoil, we’ve really come together to make a change. Look at the #metoo movement, Black Lives Matter, and so many other examples that came from our generation. Most of them rooted from the millennial and Gen-Z generations, so it’s clear to see that we’re fighting back and staying strong to stay united. We really prove those stereotypes wrong now, and I’m proud of it.
Even just looking back within the last two or three years, you can see the change. I think it all started within Obama’s era, he set the tone for us to change and that’s why I love him. When Trump came along, we were all ready to join forces and fight for what’s important. And for that, I think we’re a selfless generation. We’re really trying to fight for everyone else so we can all thrive together equally. These are all really positive aspects about our generation, we know how to make change happen.”
Who are some of your favorite creatives right now?
“A few young female photographers that are really awesome are Arielle Bobb-Willis, who’s done amazing work with a ton of publications; Alana O’Herlihy—she shoots models like Bella Hadid, and does a lot of self-portraits too; and then there’s an author named Adelle Waldman, who wrote The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Then there’s Roxanne Gay, who wrote Bad Feminist. I recently read The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, and it was so awesome. I was just in Paris and while I was traveling I read My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, and that was really cool. In general, I’m really excited about independent DIY artists. I think, especially in the millennial generation, it’s interesting to see where this whole DIY culture is going. Technology has advanced so much, and through our new means like the internet we have the ability to do so much by ourselves. It’s something I definitely want to be more apart of; just seeing so many young artists of different lives and backgrounds coming together on one platform.”
What are your favorite hangout spots in New York City?
“I live in Greenpoint, so I’ve been hanging out in Brooklyn a lot. There are so many cute little bars around Greenpoint that are fun, like The Gutter, which is essentially an old-school bowling alley that I go to with friends a lot. Honestly… I just love hanging out in my apartment. I’m such a homebody, my ideal hangout is just putting on a face mask and watching Netflix with my dog. I live right next to McGolrick Park, so I spend a lot of time around there. I like going to Cafe Mogador, and just visiting the cute little gems in Brooklyn. I used to go out a lot more than I do now. I’ve basically retired from going out.”
What are some of your favorite places to shop?
“I love vintage clothes. My friend works at a vintage shop in Brooklyn called Collections, and I get so many of my clothes from her because she has such a great eye. I go to Beacon’s Closet a lot, since it’s near where I live. Those are the two places I usually go to find cool, new pieces. I love discovering small business stores, but if it’s not vintage or thrift I just go online now.”
How would you describe your style aesthetic?
“It changes and goes through different phases, but I would say I’m a casual person. I like being comfortable, but I guess I would describe it as ‘boy beat.’ Is that a thing? Someone told me that a while ago, and I feel like it describes me pretty well. If I go out, I like to wear oversized suits, that kind of vibe. I love my high wasted mom jeans, because they’re so comfortable. If you look through my Instagram you can get a sense of what I’m talking about, but I’m not sure how to define myself. I don’t really know what I’m doing, I’m still figuring it all out.”
What are some of your favorite brands of the moment?
“I like what Zadig & Voltaire are doing, and I always love Marni because they always have really cool pieces. Stella McCartney is a really big one for me, I’ve always loved her style. I also like Virgil Abloah, what he’s done with Louis Vuitton and Off White is really impressive.”
What’s your favorite Netflix binge of the moment?
“Right now I’m in the thick of Shameless. I watched the first three seasons a while back and I paused on it to watch a few other things, but I just got back into it and I’ve been watching it nonstop. Once I’m so into a show I forget about all the other ones out there. I binge-watched You, and I’m so excited that Queer Eye is back. Another one that I’m super into is Glow.”
Do you have a self-care routine?
“It’s really simple: I get up and I wash my face with a citrus cleanser, which is just really nice and refreshing. Then I put on the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate; I use it in the morning and at night. The Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye Cream is also really good. If I want a quicker little moisture spray, I’ll use the Aesop Immediate Moisture Facial Hydrosol, which is really nice. I try to keep my skin moisturized all the time, and I use the Weleda Skin Food because it’s thicker and it really helps moisturize my skin. And that’s about it, I like to keep it pretty simple. I’m always putting on my Kiehl’s chapstick, too.”
Any upcoming projects we should look forward to?
“I’ve been attached to this project called The Birthday Cake, which I’m pretty excited about. It shoots in Brooklyn, and I can’t really say much about it but I’m acting in it, which I’m pretty excited about. I have a few other little things I’m working on, like a little documentary I’m editing together about my sister and I during Fashion Week. I’ve also been auditioning a lot, so just a lot of cool things are coming down the pipeline.”