Q: Hi Aya! For those unfamiliar with your work, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?
A: I am an actor who, as a tweet once said, “looks much shorter and paler in person.” I work in theater, film, and TV.
Q: We truly admire your passion for sustainability and supporting small businesses, both in your daily life as well as on the red carpet! Do you have any tips and tricks to share for finding high-quality vintage or secondhand premiere-worthy pieces?
A: I shop everywhere – CBK, Goodwill, Beacon’s Closet, and even on Instagram. Most of my favorite vintage/secondhand shops sell on Instagram, and I’m always discovering new spots from all over the map. Knowing your measurements is important, too…you never know when or where you will find something special.
Q: Have you always shopped vintage and secondhand merchandise? If not, what inspired your appreciation for the world of sustainable fashion?
A: I love shopping consignment because I don’t like spending money on pieces that I only wear a few times, or to one event. I can always (and frequently do) consign pieces back afterwards! For big events, I don’t tend to buy gowns - I use stylist Chris Horan. He understands my passion for shopping second LUXURY.
I grew up shopping secondhand because that’s what I could afford. I have been through the bins at the Goodwill outlet, and I have always loved the feeling of finding something unique. There were some dark days at Forever21, but I finally gave up ALL fast fashion a few years back after watching a documentary detailing how unethical it is. I can now afford to pay the cost of ethically-made merchandise but I still prefer a secondhand deal!
Q: This past year has brought unexpected challenges and hard-learned lessons to us all. Can you share a bit about how you’ve changed and adapted, personally and professionally, since the onset of the pandemic? What has taken on new importance, or how have your priorities changed and why?
A: Look, I am insanely fortunate. Of course 2020 was a tough year - I lost a family member to COVID and have a friend who continues to struggle with the virus. This pandemic is devastating. I am financially secure and healthy, and I have learned what a difference that makes in a crisis. The inequity in our society now has a big ole spotlight on it.
I was always taught to support 501c3s (non-profit organizations with tax exemption benefits); while this is great, I have grown to feel a greater responsibility towards my community. I wouldn’t say the list of things I care about has changed, but I would say that the order of the list has.
Q: We love seeing the CBK shoutouts in your “Clothes” highlight on Instagram (thank you so much for your support)! What are a few of your all-time favorite brands, as well as your go-to retailers?
A: I love smaller brands like Rachel Comey, Ilana Kohn, Caron Callahan, and Christine Alcalay (she has a store called Kiwi in Brooklyn). Sophie Ratner has gorgeous jewelry and just did a collaboration with Zosia Mamet (which I got to be a part of). I also just discovered Divine Individual who makes beautiful things. Favorite vintage labels include YSL, Schiaparelli, and Martin Starr.
Q: You’ve described reading as one of your favorite hobbies. Are there any specific genres or writers in particular you’re gravitating towards right now that we should check out?
A: I’m enjoying both poetry and fantasy. It’s been hard to focus during the pandemic, but with poetry you get these dense, bite-sized bursts of story and emotion that you can pick up or put down at any time. Kim Addonizio is my favorite poet! Okay, she’s also my mother…but I promise you she is incredible. She’s won a ton of awards, she’s been in the New Yorker, and she even has a poem on the subway right now. She lives on the West Coast, but when I happen to sit next to the poem I feel like she’s saying hello.
I think I am drawn to fantasy because our world feels dystopian right now, and reading fantasy is a way for me to process that outside of reality. I loved The Broken Earth Series by N.K. Jemisin. I would pitch that it’s an allegory about climate change…