Hollywood's perfect storm: Alexandra Shipp is breathing new life into classic screen franchises.
It’s not easy to reinvent the wheel... or icons. Whether it’s embodying Storm, Marvel Entertainment’s premiere black superheroine, or bridging the gap from ’70s blaxploitation to this summer’s Shaft redux, Alexandra Shipp’s got this.
“As an actress, I’m one of those people who, if you give me a challenge, I will rise to it,” says Shipp, 27. “Maybe I won’t be able to rebuild your car, but I can definitely make it look like I can.”
This summer, Shipp reprises her role as the white-mohawked, weather-controlling mutant in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. As an admirer of the comics, cartoons and earlier films, she takes the task seriously. “I’m doing it for that little girl like me who was watching and feeling like she was a mutant, that she was on her own,” she says. “And then finding a family that supports her and celebrates her.”
Shaft also appeals to her sentimental side. “Growing up as an African American in this country, you know about Shaft, honey!” she says with a laugh. “My grandparents watched it; my dad loved Shaft. It’s a very poignant piece in our culture, so to be a part of it was really exciting because I got something to run home and tell my family about.”
In between brand-name projects, Shipp’s lauded character work lights up much admired fare such as last year’s Love, Simon and Brett Haley’s upcoming All the Bright Places. “I’m lucky that I get to do the big franchises,” she says, “because it means I get to go off and do some really great films that are a part of an even bigger conversation.”