Despite her family ties to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, this heiress is building her own career in the entertainment industry, doing her own stunts, and proving that her name won’t be what defines her.
Lydia Hearst stands under a bright key light in a white backless dress. There’s a large horizontal bruise close to the middle of her spine. Our editor in chief and photographer on this shoot, Ryan, asks her to take a running start for a shot. She does as instructed, strutting a few paces forward and remarks, “Both of my ankles are sprained, so I can’t run very well.” I later find out the probable cause behind her battered physique is an active work schedule, which includes her own stunt work on the set of her newest feature film, training with a circus school, and learning to ride a motorcycle.
To say that Lydia Hearst has an active lifestyle would be an understatement. In between modeling, acting, and swinging on the trapeze, Hearst is involved in charity work – she is focused on building a career outside the realm of her family’s publishing business. Amid constant travel, she also practices meditation to remain grounded and balanced; it’s the sort of practiced concentration needed as she steps away from her family’s name and creates an empire of her own.
The Hearst Corporation was founded in 1887 by Lydia’s great grandfather, William Randolph Hearst. The company currently owns 53 newspapers and 300 magazines world wide including Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Elle and The Oprah Magazine. It also owns A&E Television Networks and ESPN, reaching a combined 18 percent of all U.S. television viewers.
@ Lydia Hearst, Terry Richardson
A Socialite Only by Definition
When speaking of socialites, the comparisons between Hearst and her contemporaries are plenty, but the slender 5’7” blonde says that if she is to be considered a typical socialite, she is not a very good one. “I would say by typical definition and name I would be considered a socialite,” she says. “But for what society considers a socialite I would be a terrible one, because I don’t go anywhere and I’m not very social.” She prefers cooking at home over going out, and hanging out with close friends over partying. She speaks to her parents twice a day and is thankful to them for a normal upbringing. Although Paul Dano, as well as a few other noted Hollywood insiders, models, and editors, graduated from her Connecticut high school, she shied away from the spotlight until she was of age. She says she is grateful for the grounding and normalcy her upbringing has given her.
A View of Politics
Lydia has stayed away from gossip columns and blogs and thinks they are an unhealthy use of time. Instead of focusing on current events and news, the United States has become obsessed with gossip and celebrities, she says. Hearst says that instead of being focused on the policies of our political candidates, everyone is focused on whom someone’s wife is, whom they may be having an affair with or what shoes they were wearing when they stepped out for coffee. Would she ever consider a career in politics? “I think I’ve been photographed topless too many times,” she says laughing. “But then again, I have nothing to hide.”
The Family Business
As close as Hearst is to her family, she has no current plans of being involved in their business endeavors. What would she say if someone offered her the chance to be CEO of the company? Her answer is no doubt in line with the same ambitions that her great grandfather most likely built the business on: In perfect posture, she leans forward and says, “I would say that I hope everyone would be prepared for me to be the next Anna Wintour. I would settle for no less than being someone as influential and inspiring as her.” For now, however, she is in the middle of filming her third feature film and is keeping her focus on modeling and acting.
Print vs. Screen
Milla Jovovich and Heidi Klum, who have managed to pursue careers both in fashion and on screen, are sources of inspiration for Hearst. “I love modeling,” she says. “I love acting. I want to continue doing both.” The common thread between acting and modeling is the fact that both occupations involve time spent under hot lights and in front of cameras. “There are no secrets on screen,” says Hearst, indicating this observation as one of the differences between the two media. Another difference is the continuous need to portray someone else while acting, because you’re taking on another persona when the cameras go on, she points out. She’s shooting a film called Delirium, a psychological thriller, directed by and starring LeRoy Kunz, in which she plays Kunz’s girlfriend. “I’m a little banged up from doing my own stunts,” she says. As the cameras start rolling again, more stunt work – including a scene shot entirely in a water tank – awaits.
Running Away With the Circus
What does a model/actress/non-socialite do while she’s not filming? Work with the circus, of course! In her spare time, Lydia Hearst has been training with a circus school, learning hand balancing, trapeze, and the silks. She is one of the only students at the school who does not come from a circus-performing background. She’s not only training for her current projects, but also to keep healthy and limber. “I’ve been getting very active,” she says. “And I think that’s important if you want to do more theatrics.” Hearst is interested in doing her own stunt work on future projects as well, and in accordance with her future goals, is also getting her motorcycle license.
At The End of The Day
One may find it hard to believe that Lydia Hearst can sit still for long enough to mediate, but she credits meditation as a modality she uses at the end of each day to stay centered and focused. “Sometimes when I’m traveling, it gets a little tricky because I’m constantly on the go,” she points out. “I think meditation can be very helpful; if you can just sit and breathe, it makes such a difference in your day.”
Lydia Hearst is quite kinetic, and part of her energy is used to work with Operation Smile, a nonprofit focused on providing surgery to children suffering from cleft palates and lips and other facial deformities. Hearst went on her first mission with the organization in 2009 and found it to be a life-altering experience. “They may not remember your name, they may not remember your face, but they’ll never forget the act of kindness you bestowed upon them,” she says of the lives of the many children Operation Smile has affected. This year she will be honored at an event hosted by the organization for the work she’s completed with them, and she will also be sponsoring her own mission to either Africa or Vietnam. “It’s very easy for people to put their name on a committee list and put on a fancy dress and sip champagne for a photo op, but there is so much more that people can do,” Hearst explained.
@ Lydia Hearst, Kurt Iswarienko
At this time, Hearst is focusing on staying in the present moment and building a name for herself. “There’s that famous phrase ‘time is of the essence,’ but it’s also quite fleeting,” she says, “I think it’s important to focus on the now, otherwise you’ll miss out on it. If you’re constantly thinking about what’s going to happen in the future, you’re going to miss out on the present.” If the present adds up to make the future, Lydia Hearst is making sure everyone knows her name independent from being the billion-dollar heiress of the giant publishing corporation.
THE GROUND ISSUE #2