‘The Bear’ made Ayo Edebiri a Hollywood sweetheart. Now she’s making Hollywood her playground.

“She is one of the very few talents that, in a world where we cannot agree on bad things, we can agree that Ayo Edebiri is brilliant,” Green said. The two met through mutual friend Boyce (aka Marcus). “I remember thinking this is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met,” Green said of their introduction, during which he, Edebiri and Boyce came to watch There’s no time to die in New York. Months later, when Green saw Edebiri staying Bear screeners Boyce shared with him, he immediately knew he wanted to choose her. “I can’t stress this enough: She didn’t do bad things,” Green said. “She can do wrong [but] every choice she makes is cinematic.” The film stars Juliette Lewis, Amber Midthunder and John Malkovich, and was filmed in New Mexico. (“I loved working with John,” Edebiri says. “I felt like every day was an acting lesson.”) And then there was Ella McCay, a comedy by James L. Brooks starring Emma Mackey, alongside Albert Brooks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rebecca Hall, Woody Harrelson and Kumail Nanjiani. The Rhode Island setting is a reunion for Edebiri and Curtis, who crossed paths while Curtis guest-starred as Carmy’s mother in the show’s second season. Bear. Although they did not have any scenes together, Edebiri was on set to shadow the show’s creator, Christopher Storer, as he directed Curtis’ scenes.

“We were sitting on the stairs together and talking about loving the job of an actor as well as the job of a director,” Curtis told me over the phone. Edebiri asked Curtis how she likes to direct. “I’m not an intellectual so I don’t need many words; you just whisper a color in my ear, this will change my performance,” Curtis told Edebiri. The next day, in the middle of the infamous dinner table scene in the episode “Fishes,” Edebiri whispered “purple” to Curtis and walked away. “Purple means ‘wound,’ that color the wound turns to,” Curtis said. It was a very intimate moment between her and I—I believe that’s how they used it on the show. Unbelievable.”

In Curtis, Edebiri saw the type of actor she wanted to be, a veteran still eager to do the job. “They are unstable and they don’t get bored,” she said. “It makes me feel very excited because I hope that when I’m at that stage of my life, if I’m lucky enough to have it, I’m still searching and wondering and excited.”

Main character in Ella McCay is a politician preparing to become governor. When I asked Edebiri how she felt about the upcoming real-life presidential election, her answer was succinct: “nervous.” Outside of voting, she doesn’t consider herself very involved in politics, “but I think my standards are pretty high,” she said. “I grew up in a family where my parents were always volunteering at polling stations and always making calls and things like that. I have memories of doing homework in call centers for Elizabeth Warren and Obama.”

Because she knows activist is an important label, it’s not a label she assigns to herself. “A lot of public figures come into that space and then they say, ‘Wait, that’s not what I do.’ So they leave and then people get upset with them. [Or] They are saying things but they are not [as] as informed as they think. That’s a difficult thing.”

The Edebiri me met over dinner and over Zoom—with whom I exchanged messages about everything from non-alcoholic aperitifs to the hilarity of ’80s dating shows Connect love—is simply “a grown-up version of her as a child,” her best friend since third grade Michelle Kim Nguyen told me. “Ayo has always been a very quirky, bubbly, energetic and interesting person. We grew up looking at famous people and you almost felt like they were from another world. Walking down the street with Ayo and hearing someone shout ‘Yes, Chef’ is funny. The fact that she’s still the same person as before makes it all the more strange.”

Ayo Edebiri wore Christopher John Rogers with boots and Loewe earrings by Cartier.

Clothes of Christopher John Rogers; start with Loewe; earrings of Cartier.Photo by RENELL MEDRANO; styled by STELLA GREENSPAN.

Edebiri is enjoying this time in her life and the current “go, go, go, go, go” pace of her career, the thought of having more time to scrapbook, collage 3D sushi puzzles and watch Beautiful murder mystery audio. “I have a lot of hobbies,” she said of her hobbies and interests. “I don’t know if I have good or bad taste, but I have a lot.” Slowing down “is not a negative thing for me. When I think about people whose careers I admire, there have been ups and downs.”

In the thick of award shows, photo shoots and interviews that Edebiri did last year, when she was feeling overwhelmed, she chatted with a co-star. She kept his name a secret but not his advice: “He said, ‘Just remember why you’re doing this; remember the real reason why you are doing this and everything will be okay.’ ”

“Why are you doing all this?” I ask.

“Because I like it.”

Hair, Lacy Redway; makeup, Marcelo Gutierrez; manicure, Maria Salandra; seamstress Maria Del Greco; set design, Julia Wagner. Produced on-site by Ice Studios. For details, visit VF.com/credits.


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