JaShaun St. John Is Changing Hollywood—and Fashion

20-year-old Oglala Lakota stars in Gap’s latest campaign and Marvel’s newest film.

9/26/2021 8:09:00 PM

20-year-old Oglala Lakota stars in Gap ’s latest campaign and Marvel’s newest film.

The 20-year-old Oglala Lakota actress stars in Gap ’s latest campaign and Marvel’s newest film, both opposite director Chloe Zhao.

.Fashion advertising has helped introduce the world to everyone, from Cameron Diaz to Channing Tatum, and they continue to highlight exceptional new stars. The latest to step into the spotlight and land a major campaign is 20-year-old Oglala Lakota actress JaShaun St. John, who stars in

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’s Fall campaign shot by Mark Seliger The gig arrives just before her appearance in Marvel’s forthcoming blockbusterEternalsopposite Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek. Independent film fans will recognize the beauty from her breakthrough role in 2015’s coming-of-age drama

Songs My Brother’s Taught Me.The debut feature of Academy Award winner,Songs,began St. John’s creative partnership with the director, whom she poses with in the Gap ads. “I was able to express myself in a way I never have,” shared St. John via email of the on-set experience. “It was super fun, and I’m honored that I got to work with Gap.”

St.John and ZhaoPhoto: Mark Seliger, Courtesy of GapSt. John has been grateful for projects that allow her to represent her culture.Songs,which was filmed on the Pine Ridge Reservation where she grew up, was especially meaningful. “I got to work with people that helped me share a little bit of who I am that many don’t get to see,” says St. John. “We don’t get a lot of opportunities to share ourselves using our culture and language, so I’m thankful I received the chance.”

As part of an expansive cinematic universe,Eternalsis the inverse of an intimate film likeSongs. Still, its scope and global reach allowed for Native representation, which has been sorely lacking in Hollywood. St. John describes the opportunity to enter the MCU as a dream come true, one with resonance beyond herself. “It was always a goal of mine to represent indigenous people in films,” says St. John. “Being one of the first natives to act in a film this big is an honor. [This] means a lot to my younger self, and I know it would mean a lot to the Native kids everywhere.”

ContentFor Zhao, who discovered St. John while casting in South Dakota during pre-production forSongs, her talent was evident from day one. “I met JaShaun when she was 11 [and] right away I was drawn to her unique individuality, a beautiful balance of gentleness and fearlessness,” she says. “It has been incredible to watch her grow into the brave, curious, and independent young woman she is today.” That fashion brands—and Hollywood studios—have taken an interest in St. John wasn’t surprising either. “The camera loves her,” says Zhao. “She has a natural and captivating screen presence, and she knows how to command your attention.”

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