For those of us who came of age in the early 2000s, there will always be a few iconic It girls. From Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie to Jessica Alba and Angelina Jolie, the A-listers of this era were often spotted in tabloids, captured leaving clubs late at night, and dared to wear the lowest of low-rise jeans on red carpets. Of course, this was the pre-digital era; there was some semblance of privacy still to be found. Today’s It girls have evolved to be always on, strategically sharing glimpses of a carefully curated life on social media, working with stylists to hone a red carpet aesthetic, and plotting their career paths with longevity in mind. Like the It girls before her, 19-year-old Chiara Aurelia is blazing her own trail and is doing so with a uniquely Gen Z point of view.
We caught up with Aurelia at the tail end of summer, syncing up via Zoom days before she wrapped her latest project, Luckiest Girl Alive. Against an austere hotel room background, Aurelia somehow manages to look radiant, illuminated by the natural light. It may come as some surprise that the actress looks nothing like her character Jeanette Turner from Hulu hit Cruel Summer, the role that catapulted her into the spotlight. With her hair swept back in a bouncy ponytail and wearing a silk newsprint Dior blouse she scored on The RealReal, Aurelia is every bit the modern-day ingenue—a vision her ’90s teen character could never have conjured.
Incidentally, Aurelia has become the queen of surprises, drawing attention not only for her work in Cruel Summer (the 10-episode first season ended in July and was immediately renewed for a second) but also for her role in Fear Street Part Two: 1978, which premiered a week earlier. Fortunately, she’s a fan of suspense, or at least, she knows how to play the role of a good sport. “I love surprises,” she gushes. “I mean, when it comes to personal life, not as much, but being able to be on the edge of your seat when you’re invested in a story or a movie that you’re watching or a script that you’re reading, that’s super fun.” There’s an important difference, however, between the thriller and horror genres (she would know; she’s already done both), with one feeling more timeless and the other best consumed around Halloween. “All of the gore, murders, and chaos [of horror] can be super fun to work on, but they’re a little bit more terrifying for me to watch,” she confesses.
Photo:Courtesy of Chiara Aurelia
Fortunately, Luckiest Girl Alive is poised to be another thrilling sensation. Jessica Knoll, the author of the best-selling 2015 mystery novel who Aurelia describes as a “close friend and a genius,” adapted the story for the big screen and put together an incredible cast (including Mila Kunis and Connie Britton) to bring it to life. Although Aurelia’s role has yet to be confirmed by Netflix, Knoll sang her praises in a late-summer Instagram post. “[Aurelia] blew us all away,” reads a caption of a photo of the two hugging below the neon sign of Fanelli Cafe in SoHo. “She captured her spunk, her wit, and her devastation. Oh god, I can’t wait for you to see what I’ve seen.” Hint: If you haven’t already read the book, here’s your chance. Then, feel free to wager which character Knoll is referring to—Aurelia’s lips remained sealed.
Based on her recent successes, Aurelia’s predilection for stories of a darker nature seems like a smart path to pursue. But it would be remiss to pigeonhole this young actress into the thriller genre or any genre for that matter. In fact, her dream role is an unexpectedly classic choice: Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, a childhood favorite. “The Wizard of Oz was a huge touchstone for me when I was younger,” Aurelia explains. “It captured all of the things that I loved about the film industry. Plus the singing and dancing and incredible acting, it was so advanced for its time.” In fact, Aurelia and her friends still enjoy watching the 1939 movie together, despite the endless options available via today’s streaming services.
Like Judy Garland, the original Dorothy, Aurelia’s look is timeless. As an actress, she has already played teenagers in the ’70s and ’90s and will presumably take on the role of a present-day 20-something in Luckiest Girl Alive. As an individual, Aurelia is also a chameleon whose personal style is equally at home in the vintage ’90s Steve Madden boots she kept from Cruel Summer and her present-day styling of that early ’00s Dior blouse. “I’m into some of the ’90s fashion trends… the mom jeans, low-rise pants, butterfly clips, and platform shoes. Honestly, there’s so much to love,” she reflects.
Photo:Courtesy of Chiara Aurelia
A card-carrying member of Gen Z, Aurelia is embracing the high-low aesthetic as she figures out what feels right for this moment in her career, scoring gems on The RealReal and getting inspiration from a variety of stylists. “I’m still finding out who I am in terms of the way that I want to look and how I want to portray myself, but I’m having a lot of fun mixing and matching high-fashion brands with vintage clothing and consignment stores,” she shares.
Before we wrap up, we ask Aurelia what’s up next after a busy and extremely successful summer. “As long as I’m working with such incredibly talented people, I look forward to discovering my next projects and exploring further as time unfolds. I’m very lucky to be walking on this path,” acknowledges the burgeoning It girl, paving her own yellow brick road of sorts.
We already know that Chiara Aurelia is uniquely talented, but only time will tell if she’s actually the luckiest girl alive. We can’t wait to find out!