Storm Reid Isn’t Trying to Be Perfect
At 17, Storm Reid finds herself included in a group text with more Oscar-winning actresses than she ever dreamed possible. But while some young stars would casually name-drop the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon every chance they got, Reid isn’t one of them. True to her Southern upbringing, the Euphoria actress is as courteous as she is grateful, even prefacing the first names of Hollywood veterans with “Ms.” as a sign of respect. “When I think about the people I’ve been able to meet, I’m just in awe,” she says.
Reid has become known for her ever-endearing politeness as well as the glass-half-full attitude she often shares with her million-plus followers on Instagram. But deep down, she experiences the same highs and lows as any other teen. “People think of me as somebody they can look to for positivity, but, truthfully, I’m just a young girl trying to figure it out,” she says. “I’m actually a pretty shy person, and when I’m not in front of the camera, I’m much more introverted.”
But Reid has spent most of her life on camera. Acting since age 3, the Atlanta-born star appeared in her first major feature film, the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, in 2013 before landing the lead in A Wrinkle in Time in 2018. Starring opposite Winfrey, Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling in the Ava DuVernay–directed project was momentous, but Reid’s casting was even more groundbreaking given that her character, Meg, was written as white in the original 1962 book, by Madeleine L’Engle. “When the film came out, little girls would come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to see a girl who looks like me save the world,’ ” Reid recalls. “That’s when I realized my career was bigger than myself.”
The feedback wasn’t all positive, though, and at just 14, Reid found herself navigating mixed reactions to her casting. “Some people had problems with me playing Meg because they’d loved her as a Caucasian girl for so long,” she says. “They were uncomfortable to have that shift, but the only way to create change in our world is through people willing to be uncomfortable.” Inclusion has been a driving force behind many of Reid’s career moves, from signing on to 12 Years a Slave to joining the cast of the 2019 Netflix miniseries When They See Us. “The projects I choose to be part of are very intentional,” she says. “I see each one as an opportunity to have a progressive conversation and represent people and situations that are underrepresented. Young girls deserve to see themselves onscreen. Because how can you feel like you’re able to succeed when you don’t see yourself succeeding?”
After co-founding a production company, A Seed & Wings Productions, with her mom, Robyn, and sister Paris, Reid is paving the way for a new, more inclusive generation in the industry—and she looks to the career of late Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman for inspiration. "He dedicated his life to being part of projects that benefited us as a Black culture, and that's what I want to try to do," she says. "I'm really happy to be a young Black woman in the space I'm in—to be accepted, to be loved, and for people to appreciate my work—and I want to create opportunities for people who haven't been given them yet. Ms. Ava took a chance on me, so why wouldn't I take a chance on someone else?"
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Having Hollywood heavyweights cheering her on has certainly given Reid the confidence to push forward. “It’s a blessing to have amazing women like Ms. Ava, Ms. Reese, Ms. Mindy, and Ms. Oprah in my corner championing me,” says Reid. “I try to make them proud, but I know I’m not always going to do or say everything the right way. I’m not perfect, but the goal shouldn’t be for me to be perfect.”
Still, Reid works hard to find the silver lining in any situation, and she’s continued to do so amid the pandemic. “If anything, 2020 has been a reminder that we need to appreciate, uplift, and give people their flowers while they’re still here.” Reid has been sticking to her word, and a recent recipient of one of her own floral arrangements was none other than her Euphoria co-star Zendaya, whom she lovingly calls Z. “I’ve been a fangirl of hers since the beginning of time, and now she’s like my bonus big sister,” says Reid, who plays Gia Bennett, the younger sibling of Zendaya’s character, Rue, on the hit HBO series. “She’s so genuine, and whether I need advice about ‘growing up in Hollywood,’ as they say, or just advice as a teenage girl trying to figure out life, she’s always a phone call away.”
With the filming of Euphoria currently on hold, Reid has kept busy with backyard workouts, virtual meetings, and some powerful reading material. After finishing Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall, she’s diving into The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin. “It’s about racial injustices in the early ’60s, but it relates to what we’re going through now and how we can try to shift things,” says Reid. “Everything feels like it’s falling apart, but I think we’ll see changes when the people in our administration care about our global community.” Though she’s “so bummed” to be a year shy of casting a ballot in November, she’s still doing whatever she can to get people to the polls. “A lot of young people are confused about voting or just feel like they don’t need to, but this is a pivotal time in our country. So if you have the opportunity to vote, please use your vote wisely.”
Reid isn’t afraid to get political when it comes to fashion, either. “There are so many things I can say through my clothes,” says the star, who’s sported statement Ts emblazoned with “Vote,” “Equality,” and “Phenomenally Black” in her posts. “Fashion is all about empowering yourself by feeling and looking good, but it’s also about aligning yourself with brands that match up with your values and how you move throughout life.”
Despite using her platform—and her clothes—to call for change, Reid is hesitant to label herself an activist. “I’m an active learner and listener who wants to know what’s going on in the world; activists have dedicated their lives to being on the front lines,” she clarifies. “It’s important to shine the spotlight on them and let them educate me so I can use that information to educate people who follow me.”
Education is a top priority for Reid. She graduated from high school a year early in May, an occasion that looked different from what she’d envisioned pre-pandemic. “I didn’t get the typical high school experience because I was homeschooled for the past six years, so I was really looking forward to walking across that stage,” she says, describing the Zoom ceremony in its place as “bittersweet.” Now she’s in the middle of a gap year as she plots her next move. “I need to figure out what to do with this chapter of my life. I want to attend college but with the full experience of being on campus—so I’m just waiting to see what the world is going to look like in the coming months.”
While she’s ambitious to keep learning, Reid, as always, remains focused on work. Up next, she’ll star opposite Idris Elba in 2021’s The Suicide Squad, and she’s debating whether to ask Beyoncé to direct an episode of a new show she’s producing. “It’s just wishful thinking,” she says, laughing. “But I just feel like the world needs a lot of hope right now, and I want my projects to give people that hope.”
Photographs by AB+DM. Styling by Jason Bolden. Hair by Shawnna Courtney. Makeup by Joanna Simkin for The Wall Group. Production by Kelsey Stevens Productions.
For more stories like this, pick up the November issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Oct. 23rd.