Talking Zines, TheRealReal, and Amy Poehler With Newcomer Hadley Robinson

Hadley Robinson shows up to our Zoom call looking every bit a ‘70s dream girl. She is outfitted in a silky, sepia-toned blouse-and-trouser set by Adriana Iglesias, her golden locks center-parted with soft waves and her cheeks dusted with a peachy-pink hue. Though she is reminiscent of the era’s iconic fashion and screen stars, she is this decade’s one to watch. Robinson is a name you might not know yet—“yet” being the key word—but with two noteworthy projects in the queue, the 27-year-old Juilliard grad is poised for her breakout moment. 

Following supporting roles in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Gillian Flynn’s Amazon series Utopia, and the mind-bending Charlie Kaufman film I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Robinson is taking her rightful place center stage this month in Amy Poehler’s Moxie. The Netflix film follows Vivian (Robinson), a shy teen who, after discovering her mom’s rebellious punk rock past, is inspired to publish a zine that shines a light on her high school’s toxic and sexist environment. An empowering coming-of-age story, Moxie has an important message for everyone: Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. With Poehler at the helm and an ensemble of notable newcomers, the film is a truly engaging and joyful watch—not to mention a shining moment for Robinson, who will next play a young Jeanie Buss in Untitled Lakers Project coming to HBO. 

In the spirit of the Moxie zine, we handed Robinson the creative reins to tell her own fashion story. With a fondness for “boy meets girl” style and a knack for uncovering great vintage finds, she fully delivered.

Moxie is an empowering film featuring a fantastic cast of emerging talent. What are you most proud of with this project?

I’m so glad that you liked it! I would say I’m most proud of the relationships that I formed on-set. I formed a lot of friendships in which I think there will be a lot of collaboration moving forward. These are people who I put faith in and have so much love for. I think from these relationships a lot of great things will blossom and grow. But the movie itself I’m really proud of, and I think people will walk away from it feeling very empowered and inspired, so I’m just really excited for the world to see it. 

It’s been almost a year and a half since you wrapped filming. What are some of your fondest memories working with this cast and crew?

We had a lot of fun on some of the late-night shoots. We invented games and got to know each other, and all the between-the-takes moments were some of my favorites that I will never forget. Also, going to Portland was really fun. I had never been, and that was surprisingly a really good time, and I felt like I got really close to Amy [Poehler] and a few of the crew members as well. It was also cool to see everybody go through their own process and journey while shooting this. We all got to talk about it in between takes, like what we were going through and how we were dealing with it and who we were becoming in a way, so that was really cool. 

Your character Vivian Carter has a beautiful transformation in the film. What were some of her traits that resonated with you when reading the script?   

I think the traits that resonated with me were Vivian’s shyness and her introversion in high school. I was very shy and introverted in high school as well, and I think right now is when I’m really trying to come out of my shell and find the extroverted part of me that can stand up and say what I mean and mean what I say. She starts off as very shy and living in a place of fear and insecurity, and by the end, she realizes that there are more important things than fear and insecurity and that sometimes you need to do the hard thing and maybe the painful thing and the scary thing if the payoff is worth it and if it’s for people that you love. I think I’ve realized that as well. That’s the important message and important journey she goes through. 

How do you think you and/or your high school would have responded to a zine like Moxie?

I went to three different high schools, and I think every high school would be a very different response. The first high school [I went to] was a typical high school in a small town, similar to Rockport High [in the film]. I think there would have been a very similar reaction to what happened in the movie itself, where groups form and then there is counteraction and action and people standing toe to toe with each other and trying to fight for what they say. It would have been worth it like it was in Moxie. The zine itself, and those behind it, would have gotten through to people, which is the important part. So the road would have been rough, but the destination would have been successful. 

Are you a fan of any real-life zines out there?

Before the movie started shooting, I really didn’t know much about zines at all and really didn’t see them in my daily life. I decided as part of my process and preparation to try and make one myself, so I did make some zines for my character. I really had never run into them in my town growing up or even in New York, but ever since being in L.A., anytime I’m in a bookshop or a comic book store or just on the side of the road, I’ll find some. I see them popping up everywhere, and now, I grab one every time I see them and flip through. 

Can you tell me a little about the zines you created for Vivian?

It was actually kind of a zine vision board, so I bought a bunch of magazines, and I would cut out inspirational quotes from people who I really respected, and I listed them in the zine. Whenever I had a lower moment or a moment where I wanted to get back in touch with who Vivian was or what the story was, I would look at the zine and all the quotes from powerful women or men that I had stolen. [It had] pictures occasionally, too. I did it all—the playlist, the journaling. I love to work, and the research is a really fun part of it. 

This is a film about teen girls fighting for their voices to be heard, but the broader messaging of standing up for yourself is multigenerational. What do you hope viewers take away from watching this film?

I really think it does speak to all groups, all ages, all different kinds of people from every part of the world. It speaks to everybody, and the message that people can walk away with is, When something feels unjust, are you going to be complacent in your complicity, or are you going to speak out? And the path is always to speak out when something doesn’t feel right. People fall into complacency a lot because it’s easier, but I hope people will see this movie and choose to speak about what they care about in the moment when they feel they can.

For Vivian, putting on her mom’s leather jacket seems to give her a new sense of confidence. Is there an article of clothing in your own life that makes you feel confident?

It’s funny you should say that because in my life I also have many of my mother’s coats from when she was young, and they fit me just right and yet are broken in a way that makes me feel very close to her and reminds me of her. My mother is a really powerful woman, and so it’s similar to Vivian. It’s those coats. I have about five in my closet that I have collected over the years. She would probably be pretty upset if she found out that I stole them. I’m very careful about wearing them around her.

Amy Poehler directed the film and also stars as your mother. Can you tell me about working with her both on- and off-screen?

I looked up to her my entire life, so to be able to work with her on a project where she is not only the director but also playing my mother was a lot to process in the beginning, but I jumped into it. She made it so easy because she is just so incredible, and I was nervous she wasn’t going to be. They say don’t meet your heroes, but she was my hero, and I met and worked with her, and she’s lived up to the expectations and exceeded them because she is as smart as she is funny as she is professional as she is brave. She is the perfect leader of this group, this cast, and maybe this revolution. 

Did she give you any advice that you are taking with you into other projects? 

If I’m being completely honest, we were sitting in the pews of this church for this one scene, and we were talking about love actually. She was looking off through the stained glass window, and she said, “You know, Hadley, people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. All people, they will come in for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, and that’s just how it is, and you can’t get hung up on anything and just have to accept that a relationship with anybody or a friendship with anybody will be what it will be.” That’s something kind of unexpected that I almost repeat to myself every day of my life, honestly. She also leads by example. I watched her a lot and stole things from how she worked, like how she stuck to tea instead of coffee after a certain time of the day or how she would play a certain type of music to get her energy up. Little things like that I have definitely stolen. 

Prior to Moxie, you worked with another incredible female director, Greta Gerwig, on Little Women. At this early stage in your career, are you consciously looking for female-led projects and stories?

It’s definitely something I have been focusing on. I worked with Greta in the first movie I ever was in, and then, I worked with Gillian Flynn in a project, and she was incredible. I find that it is a different feeling on-set than when I am directed by a man, especially when it’s a female story versus a male story because I find that the female roles are portrayed very differently. And if I’m being completely honest, there is more complexity, and maybe I’ve just convinced myself of that, but usually, I feel like I can delve into the characters in a more real way and really flesh them out. Also, I feel a little safer with women sometimes, especially early on in my career. So it’s been really nice, and I do seek that out on purpose and wish to continue that trend. 

Who are some of the other female creators out there who you are inspired by or would love to work with?

Okay,  some of my favorite films of the past have been Booksmart, so Olivia Wilde. I saw 13th, and I would love to work with Ava [DuVernay]. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, and Lulu Wang, The Farewell, I was blown away. These were all projects that I was completely compelled by, and to work with any of those women would be a dream come true, so I will put it out there into the ether now and hope that it comes to fruition.

Going back to style for a bit, how would you describe your relationship with fashion

I’m vegan, so I wear clothes very specifically. I never have any animal cruelty tied to the making of them, and I believe in thrifting and secondhand wear because I think that’s more sustainable. So that’s usually what I’m drawn to. But when it comes to style, I have more of an adrogynous look, and I really like the balance between female and male style. Comfort is very important to me. For instance, right now, I’m wearing what feels like a silk pajama set. I want to learn more about [fashion] moving forward. Acting has always been the thing that I’ve studied and that I’ve been drawn to, but this is a whole other element that I’m now delving into, and I’m really excited to figure out what my personal style really is.  

Do you have any favorite vintage shops you like to frequent?

I’m obsessed with TheRealReal. I really love it. It’s dangerous. Before the pandemic, I would go in there and spend way too much time just pulling off every pair of shoes from the shelf and trying them all on and always walking away with something. That place is the best. 

There was a recent post on IG where you were debating whether your shirt was “the right amount of Dolly Parton or NOT ENOUGH.” Who are some of your style icons?

That was thrifted! Actually, the reason I said that was because my boyfriend said I looked like Dolly Parton, and I thought, “Yeah, I guess I kind of do.” At first, I was offended, and then, I thought, “Wait no, that’s my goal in life. That’s all a girl could ever dream of!” But I was watching Diane Keaton’s Lifetime Achievement Award event on YouTube or something the other day, and she is such an icon, and I love that she has just stuck with her guns her whole career and [that] she’s always looked the same way and knows what she wants. 

Moxie is now streaming on Netflix.