Jaden Smith

Ansel Elgort

Bethany Mota

Cameron Dallas






Profiles by Jenelle Riley, Carole Horst & Ramin Setoodeh

Photographs by Mark Williams & Sarah Hirakawa

an impressive career based on being versatile and grounded

an impressive career based on being versatile and grounded

Elle Fanning got her start in the business — and her SAG card — before the age of 3. Jessie Nelson, director of “I Am Sam,” needed someone to play the sister of a then-7-year-old Dakota Fanning in a flashback. Recruiting Elle, Dakota’s actual sister, was a no-brainer. Fifteen years later, Elle has emerged as one of the most exciting and consistently compelling actors of her generation, tackling indie dramas (“Somewhere”), blockbusters (“Maleficent”), and whatever the heck “The Neon Demon” was.

Fanning was only 16 when she shot that twisted, lurid film by Nicolas Winding Refn. If fact, she was too young to see it in theaters. “The Neon Demon” caused a divisive reaction from audiences when it premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Now 18, Fanming is taking the response to the film with grace. “Some amazing movies have been torn apart in Cannes,” she notes. “But I’d definitely rather have a split response like love/hate than have audiences say, ‘Oh, that was fine.’”

For Fanning, that night on the Cannes red carpet was special, not just because of the premiere — it was also her senior prom. She had chosen to attend Cannes for the first time, but “my best friend who was going to go to prom with me ended up coming, and we had prom in Cannes.”

You wouldn’t think an actress who has traveled the world with Angelina Jolie and Matt Damon would get giddy over a school dance, but Fanning has always prioritized her life outside the business. “My best friends aren’t in the industry at all,” she notes. “I still live with my family.”

Now a high school graduate, Fanning is considering college, but not this year, as she has a slew of movies to promote, including “20th Century Women” with Annette Bening and “A Storm in the Stars,” in which she plays “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley. She’s also hoping that “About Ray,” which premiered at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival, will hit theaters this year. To research the role of a female teenager transitioning to male, Fanning immersed herself in the transgender community. “I spoke to a lot of transgender guys, and hearing their stories was really powerful,” she says. “They had so much courage to just tell their story and answer difficult questions.”

And then there’s “Live by Night,” directed by and starring Ben Affleck, in which she plays a heroin addict, in what she calls her most difficult role to date. Watching Affleck work was inspiring, says Fanning, who would like to direct someday. “I like the idea of forming something that’s all your own,” she says.

Self-proclaimed Outsider Makes His Mark without compromise

Jaden Smith knows what it’s like to feel like the odd one out. “I’ve always looked at life differently,” says the 18-year-old actor, rapper, and fashion trendsetter. “I always knew no one was going to understand me — since before I could talk — and that’s why I was so quiet. I was very calm, very to myself. I could tell I felt about life differently than other kids; I could tell by the way they treated me.”

That outlook is one of the qualities that attracted Smith to his role as Marcus “Dizzee” Kipling in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama series “The Get Down,” now on Netflix. It also helped that Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” is his favorite movie of all time. “I knew I was going to say yes,” says Smith, about the moment the filmmaker pitched him the show.

Smith’s outsider sensibility is also communicated through his clothing. He has made headlines for many ensembles, like the white Batman suit he wore to prom and to the Kim Kardashian/Kanye West wedding. “I’ve always been super-duper fly and super-duper different,” he says of his style, adding that he’s worn dresses and skirts for the last 10 years at least, but it was only fairly recently that such moves got attention. “People just start caring when they have a reason to start caring,” he says, and cites his

style icons: Andy Warhol, the Joker, Poseidon, and Spike from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Now Smith has a clothing line on his MSFTSrep site. When asked to elaborate on the collective, Smith says, “It’s pronounced ‘misfits.’ I took the ‘i’ out of ‘misfits’ because we’re a team and there is no ‘I’ in team. It’s a place for the lost kids and everyone to go, and something for them to have.”
He says it’s created for “the girl that wants to be a tomboy or the boy that wants to wear a skirt, and people try to condemn. We’re here for you. Tell us your stories. If someone at your school’s trying to pick on you, it doesn’t matter because Jaden Smith’s got your back.”

Another cause Smith is passionate about is conservation. He and his parents, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, are investors in JUST Water, a company that produces water in a bottle made largely out of renewable resources. “It’s a bottle of water that has 74% less CO2 emissions than any of its competitors,” Smith notes.

Asked who he credits for his strong sense of self, he doesn’t hesitate. “My parents, of course,” he says. “My parents told me that the world was harsh and that we had to be strong within ourselves. ”

Self-proclaimed Outsider Makes His Mark without compromise

a newbie in 2013 is now a major force in film and music

a newbie in 2013 is now a major force in film and music

The 2013 remake of “Carrie” marked a number of firsts for Ansel Elgort. It was his movie debut, after having survived seven auditions to play Chloë Grace Moretz’s unlucky prom date. “They said they wanted someone like Alex Pettyfer for the role,” he says. “Somehow I ended up getting it.”

The Toronto shoot was the first time Elgort lived away from home, an experience that resembled college. “They gave me a little apartment. I got to go grocery shopping myself.” And he learned the secret language of a movie set. “People talking about craft, I thought they were talking about mac and cheese,” he says. “I didn’t know any of the terms.”

Now 22, Elgort could graduate with a diploma in movie stardom. In the last three years, he has appeared in a studio franchise (“Divergent”) and the drama “Men, Women & Children,” directed by Jason Reitman. But the movie that changed the trajectory of his career was 2014’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” a weepy love story about two cancer- stricken teens that grossed $307 million in collective bawling sessions around the world. Elgort even cried the first time he saw the movie, and again at the premiere. “We also cried a lot while we were making it,” he notes.

Overnight, studios around town started to see Elgort as a sensitive leading man. “The Fault in Our Stars” was the rare commercial hit anchored by layered performances, uncommon for an industry run by comic-book reboots.

“Young actors never get that opportunity,” Elgort says. “Otherwise my big commercial success would have been me being … ‘Oh, you’re the brother in “Divergent,” right?’ There’s like no weight behind that character. I got lucky. And now a studio and a director will be able to say, ‘We can finance a movie with you in it and also you’ll do a good job.’”

Among his upcoming projects are the drama “Billionaire Boys Club,” the comedy “Baby Driver,” and the thriller “Jonathan,” in which he’ll portray twins. It might be an apt role, because Elgort is also playing dual parts in his career: He not only acts but also performs as DJ Ansolo, and recently launched his first single, “Home Alone.”

Growing up in Manhattan, Elgort wanted to be a Broadway musical star. His family would sing along to soundtracks on car trips, and he still harbors dreams of performing on Broadway. But for now, he likes the creative energy of writing and producing his own songs, and he can do that between breaks on a movie set.

Youtube maven hits the target with ONline success

YouTube superstar Bethany Mota is selling a line of school supplies at Target, which thrills her almost more than anything she has accomplished as a DIY queen. “I grew up going to Target. It was one of my favorite stores,” says the 20-year-old entrepreneur, whose popular video posts cover everything from shopping to crafts to makeup to everyday hacks, usually designed to helps kids gain success at school, and life. “Growing up in a small town, we didn’t have a shopping mall or a bowling alley, so me and my friends would hang out at Target. So to see my designs with my name on it in the store was such a special moment.”

Her deal with the giant retailer is just one example of Mota’s reach with teens and preteens. She has 10 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, 3 million on Twitter, and 5 million on Instagram. Her clothing, accessories, and fragrance line is available at Aéropostale, and she’s got a book on deck (to be released through Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster).

Her career began as a hobby, and she still thinks of it that way. “When I got into it, I was 13, and YouTube was in a very different place. … At the time, not that many people were making videos, so the whole idea of gaining success and doing what I do as a living was not something that was out there,” she says.

Another example of her reach: Last year, Mota, along with YouTubers GloZell Green and Hank Green, interviewed President Obama. That video has 3.7 million hits.

Recognizing her influence, Mota is applying her positivity to other projects,
including working with UNICEF, and with Pacer National Bullying Prevention Center. “For me, if I’m not inspiring or helping in some way, I’m not happy.”

It means even more because she has experienced cyber-bullying herself. “I was able to go to a bunch of different schools and talk about my story and talk about what it means to truly have confidence in yourself,” she says. “What it comes down to is, know who you are.”

Other projects on Mota’s plate include building a music career — she’s released a couple of songs on YouTube in the past few years, with some success — and a soon-to-be-released mobile game app called Hollywood U.

And then there’s her job as camp counselor — alongside fellow digital star Tyler Oakley — at Camp 17, where social media stars can interact with fans. “I never went to camp, so this is my first time!” she says.

Youtube maven hits the target with ONline succes

FROM SELFIE STAR TO netflix player

FROM SELFIE STAR TO netflix player

A year ago, Vine star Cameron Dallas wrote in his “goals notebook” that he wanted to have his own show on Netflix. But when Magical Elves, the production company working with Dallas, tried to sell the idea, the streaming service passed. As his team surveyed other choices, Dallas knew he wasn’t ready to move on. “No, I really want Netflix,” he told his people.
“Just get me a meeting with them and I’ll pitch them in person.” Dallas recounts this story while taking a break from shooting his new Netflix docu-series. “We got the show,” he adds.

Most 21-year-olds don’t have the clout to make Hollywood executives listen, but Dallas is the Tom Cruise of the digital world. In fact, Cruise is one of the actors that Dallas admired growing up. “Tom Cruise is dope,” he says. Dallas boasts 8.4 million Twitter followers and 14.7 million Instagram fans.

As a teenager in Chino, Calif., Dallas started an Instagram account, where he branded himself as a male model. “I had no idea what modeling entailed, and what an agency was,” Dallas says. “It was crazy. As I continued to do it, it was fun for me to learn everything from A to Z.” Professional photographers started calling; IMG signed him, and he eventually ended up as part of a Calvin Klein

print campaign. “It was a good step in the right direction to bridge the gap between social media and traditional media,” he says. But he wasn’t going to stop there. Dallas, who gained more notoriety for his YouTube and Vine videos with families and friends (they play like a PG-rated “Jackass”), and is repped by WME, went on to record music, star in two VOD-released movies (2014’s “Expelled” and 2015’s “The Outfield”), and attend the Met Gala. He met Conde Nast’s artistic director Anna Wintour the year before he graced the cover of Teen Vogue. “I knew the name, obviously,” he says of Wintour. “But I wasn’t quite sure exactly who she was.”

It’s all part of Dallas’ master plan to take his internet fame to the mainstream. It’s still an open question if digital stars can cut it in movies, music, or TV, especially since Dallas’ area of expertise is in taking the perfect selfie. (“It’s all about the filter, man,” he says. “Filter and angle.”) But Dallas thinks it’s only a matter of time before Hollywood openly embraces the internet as a star-making platform. “I’m an entrepreneur,” he says. “I’m always going to try to cross over. I don’t want to hop right into it and leave social media behind. I love social media, too. I kind of want to do everything.”