Ruby Rose
Ruby in the Jag campaign featuring her ‘female’ and ‘male’ counterparts

Between sexing it up with Christina Ricci and Jag, Ruby Rose charms Tiffany Lowana

Why should LOTL readers support Around The Block?

It’s an Australian film. I think we should always support the Aussie film industry.

And one of the things I love about it is it’s a female writer and director, and you know, in the world of screenwriting and directing, a lot of it is done by men.

So when you get this woman with a great script that’s been well-received internationally, it’s just really wonderful. I think Sarah Spillane – who’s super talented – deserves our support. On top of that, it’s a film that really engages the audience by touching on relatable topics and issues that we all kind of have to deal with in our everyday lives, stuff like peer pressure and responsibility and the feeling of needing to stand up for oneself.

But more specifically for LOTL readers, there’s a twist in it that involves sexuality, something great that we got to include in the film.

And it’s successful, being viewed at Toronto International Film Festival, plus it really is an indigenous-based story. Why should you support it? It’s a whole lot of minorities being put together to create this really amazing experience.

Can you see any parallels between Hamlet and the film?

Definitely. And I think that’s why it works so well. You have the parallels of Hamlet that are directly linked to the film, and then the parallels of Christina Ricci’s character with Liam who’s the main character – an indigenous boy. So it’s kind of as though these stories are being told simultaneously, but in different ways through different people’s experiences.

Your character doesn’t have much screen time, yet she’s one of the most crucial characters. Can you tell us why?

A lot of people play important roles but my role is particularly important because it’s an existentialist film that really shows how we make our own choices, that life isn’t pre-planned. Liam makes certain decisions about his life, and Dino (Christina’s character) has a choice to be happy or to live how she thinks society and friends and family want her to live.

She starts the film with a male partner, and the gateway through this choice is in the scene with me. That’s why my role is so important, because it shows who Dino is – truly – as a person. And it’s also the only intimate scene in the entire film, it’s the only love scene, but it’s also the only scene that has real intimacy. It’s a pretty big moment when you watch the film and it all comes together. There’s a bit of a wow factor to it, and it’s not that it’s titillating or some sort of sensationalised lesbian scene that takes away from the storyline.

What’s the most interesting thing about Hannah?

She’s comfortable with who she is. Hannah’s like, I totally know who I am, I’m totally gay, I totally think you’re hot!

And what was it like to work with Christina?

(Sighs) Wonderful! I feel truly blessed. She’s been in gazillions of films, some arty, which have managed to keep her credible. For a lot of my friends in film, the worst thing for them are the sex scenes – you know, it’s clumsy. But to do one with Christina, it was just easy and fluid. It was fun and we had a really good laugh.

Did you have a most challenging moment working on the film?

Not really. I went in there as a sponge. Coming from television, I’m used to having 30 or 40 people watch everything I do and say, so that didn’t startle me. I felt really comfortable with the nudity and sex scene. It was tasteful, and obviously it came naturally to me ‘coz I’m a lesbian in real life!

You guys worked a lot with the Aboriginal community for the film – how important was that for Sarah and the rest of the cast and crew?

Imperative. We shot at ‘The Block’, we shot on the land, and Sarah’s lived in Redfern for a lot of her life – this film was her baby. And I have strong ties with the indigenous community; I do a lot of work with communities in Alice Springs and Darwin. The most beautiful moment for me was before we even started shooting. We all arrived in Sydney at pretty much the same time, and we were welcomed to the land by one of the Elders and told about the history of Redfern, what it was like 10 years ago during the riots. To sit there and be told. To be taught. To help us start the film in a really authentic way.

You’ve talked about being bullied and tattoos, wanting to ‘reclaim’ your body – could you see similarities between your younger self and Liam?

Yeah, a lot. I mean, part of Liam is he’s kind of a victim, or a product of his environment. He has a dad that’s in jail, he has a mum who does everything she can to try and keep the family together and food on the table, and I know what both those things are like. I mean, he’s quite fearful of his father, he doesn’t want to turn out like his father, and I guess I had a lot of that growing up.

But at the same time, there are always going to be parts of me and parts of Liam that come from our fathers. And then Liam finds a teacher who believes in him and he finds the thing that makes him happy, and I had a similar situation with some teachers. I didn’t really have a lot of friends, especially ones that were good for me. All in all, school could have led me down quite a few bad paths. I had a couple of teachers who really stuck their necks out for me, so I ended up staying in school and doing the things I did, and not just disappear in a slump of drugs or depression.

Magical theatre vs. the grittiness of old Redfern – you studied at the VCA, was drama also much-needed escapism for you?

It was something that I always wanted to do, but didn’t do at school. I didn’t have the confidence and I was bullied. I loved music, I loved reading, I loved films. They were my form of escapism. I knew that when I finished school I wanted to pursue acting. It took a bit of time to get to the VCA – I backpacked around the world and applied for psychology at Melbourne Uni., but (laughs) really didn’t have the grades to get in!

You’ve said that ‘being a model, there is always something they want to change.’ Was it then hard for you to be a guest judge on Australia’s Next Top Model?

It was. When I was judging I was just giving them advice on how to be savvier, so I was lucky. I really didn’t want to be judging their appearances or anything else they can’t change. I think it’s weird to say change something that God’s given them. But yeah, I think that would be a difficult role for me to do under any other circumstance.

How important is it for you to be publically ‘out’?

Oh, very. I can’t imagine it being any different. I probably only had 2 or 3 months at MTV before it got leaked out that I was bisexual. They weren’t sure it was a good idea that I come out so soon, because we wanted to set me up as a talented presenter before I became known as the talented slash lesbian presenter.

But I had to, because I’d been so honest about it since I was 12, and I couldn’t for the life of me say I was bisexual. I like dudes as friends, I find guys attractive but I cannot and will not…I can’t imagine! I can’t imagine dating a guy, I can’t imagine falling in love with a guy. And I was lucky enough that when I did come out, the response was supportive. It was almost overly supportive! The thing that became troublesome about it was that it was saturated in the media. It was sort of shoved down people’s throats I think. Even if it was just me walking the dog, it was like ‘DJ lesbian walks dog’, and a lot of people don’t know that I can’t actually control what gets written.

People kept saying, come on, we get it: you’re GAY, enough already! (Laughs) I was like, it’s not me, I just said it once! But for all the positives in coming out, for all the young people it helped, that was just a minor downside.

Can you tell us a bit about the latest Jag campaign featuring your ‘female’ and ‘male’ Ruby counterparts?

Ha! Ruby and Reuben! Reuben’s my alter ego. I dress like a tomboy in my day-to-day life; we wanted to explore that. It was heaven, heaps of fun. I like being able to play myself. I really enjoyed the first campaign, doing the Blondie clip, but I copped a lot of criticism. Being with a dude in the clip, we were playing roles, it wasn’t suddenly like I was with Jay because we made out in the clip! People actually said, ‘oh ok, so you’re still gay?’ I was like, oh my god. For the second campaign, we thought, how do we top that?

Do you think your ‘she’ and ‘he’ side-by-side, looks like a lesbian couple?

I look at it and I think it does. It looks like a feminine woman with a more butch, or more androgynous female. I’m also very aware of my face, so I do see how some people could think it was a boy and a girl too.

So what do you think of the idea of Jag advertising in lesbian magazines such as LOTL?

Yeah I think that’s a great idea! Especially with their range now. I mean, I wear a lot of what lesbians and gay boys wear. I know that Jag sales have gone up by 30 or 40%, which is amazing and I’m sure that a lot of those people buying are gay and lesbian. Or bisexual or transgender, or whatever. And I think that having me as the face makes them look into the brand. It’s feminine tomboy.

And I’m sure I’ll be hunted down if I don’t ask: girlfriend?!

(Hard laughter) I wish! No, it’s not like I’m single for any particular reason. I’ve met cool people and I’ve been dating. It’s just so difficult because I spend a bunch of time in America – 6 months or so – then I come back to Australia, then off I go back to the States. Like 3 or 4 months ago, I was definitely not dating, ‘coz I’d hit this massive low in my depression. I was in a really bad place and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone to have to take that on board. I’m one of those people who won’t be with someone unless I think I’m the best person I can be at that time. So whenever I’ve had problems with addiction, whenever I’ve been depressed, whenever I’m feeling like I can’t give much, I take myself off the market. I like to come into a relationship with everything being kind of good.

Parting thoughts?

It’s not an original saying, but you only live once. We don’t know how long we’ve got on this earth.

As Dino puts it: We don’t choose to be born, but we choose to live. I’ve always wondered if it’s the same with freedom.


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