Dove Cameron – Shine On

Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Ashley Furnival
Gemma Lacey

Dove Cameron is a new breed of star, one who prizes intuition, empowerment and her own narrative in the world over the status quo. She’s refreshingly unguarded and determined to meet the world on her own terms. We sat down with her to talk talismans, empowerment, loss and finding light in a tough world.


Dove Cameron is our digital cover story for July 2020

Area NYC full look

Rodarte top & skirt, Area earrings

Givenchy dress, Loren Stewart necklace

Artists are always most fascinating for the unique way in which they approach the world and before meeting Dove, I noticed a surprising number of encounters in interviews where she seemed, by her own account, magnetically drawn to people, most notably with her dear friend the late Cameron Boyce and also her boyfriend Thomas Doherty of who she claims: ” When I met him, I was like, ‘Wow, what a very special, special person that I’m meeting right now.” As an actress, her greatest gift is the seamless way she occupies her characters and amplifies this to an audience, so a natural query seemed to be if her intuition informs her work. While personally she credits her deep intuition to her upbringing, within her work she has a more practical stance: “I would say it’s more instinctual, but I guess I would say that it depends on the role. I’ve done roles before that… This is maybe a little harsh, but I think the better the writing is, the less you have to think about it.” 
We talk about how success usually comes with a lot of drive and preparation but her approach is more nuanced, “I’ve been making myself seem like I’m really into preparation and tradition, but I always go back to something that my best friend and I talked about in high school, Where she said, “It’s very interesting to me how you’re always seeming to build upon yourself when my goal is always to strip everything away and find out who I am without everything that’s been built upon me. I thought that was so interesting. It really changed the way that I looked at myself because I realized it was because I hated myself so much that I wanted to build upon myself. I was like, ‘I’m not good enough as I am so I must add to myself until I become worthy.” Whilst those are not unusual emotions for any young woman, her friends’ advice helped her pivot to a more empowered place, driven with a tint of rebellion but delivered with her usual grace and charm, as she puts it, “I feel that my preparations for my work that I do now, whether it’s film or TV or music or stage is actually anti-preparation, because of the kind of clarity that she brought into my life with that statement.  I want to walk in and feel nothing and have no ideas, and then get to the point where I don’t care what anybody in the room thinks about me, and spew something that I didn’t know I wanted to say.  This desire for truth in her work is evident whatever she discusses and no doubt a huge part of what she’s so relatable to her fans.  Whether she’s acting or singing her viewpoints: “I think that my writing and my acting is something where I don’t want to be distracted from whatever is true about me. If I can get into a space where I’m so unselfconscious, I think that’s where all the magic happens. You can find any sort of character within that space in yourself as well, if you are a diverse enough person, and if you are a layered enough person and you can use your own life experience and life perspective to really make a character as relatable and believable as possible just by being completely pure and bare.”

Area blazer, top, shoes & earrings

Rodarte top & skirt, Area earrings

Vintage T-shirt from Please & Thank You Store, Marni dress, Loren Stewart necklace, Simon Miller shoes

Vintage T-shirt from Please & Thank You Store, Maryam Nassir Zadeh pants, Collina Strada turtleneck, all courtesy of Shop LCD, Axel Arigato shoes

Speaking of life experience, Dove has experienced a significant amount of loss in her life, from her father at 15, to the sudden death of her friend Cameron Boyce and her childhood best friend who was murdered by her father. That would be enough to test anyone, but her maturity and perspective is evident in her response: “When someone loses their life, that’s not my loss. He lost his life. I know that that affects me, but I would never take on that loss as my own.” She muses for a minute before sharing, “I guess I feel that there’s such a deep, great tragedy to being alive in general that it’s sort of everywhere. I feel like once you lose somebody close to you, you can’t really ever un-feel that.” To her, loss is “sort of a permanent thumbprint on your heart or like a burn or something like that. It changes your world perspective. I carry those things with me, but for me, the pain lies with that individual person and the life that they should have had.” 
If her empathy is endearing, the candour with which she follows this is even more so, even with that perspective, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an impact. “To be completely honest, I wake up and it’s the first thing on my mind. It’s constantly in the back of my mind in everything I do. I have to kind of be like, okay, nothing crazy is going to happen today. Like, the other shoes not about to drop, because a big sort of results of chronic trauma and chronic PTSD is that you always think that whatever has happened in the past is about to happen again at any given moment. So I kind of have to get myself out of that space daily by just doing stuff.” 
This is where Dove’s spirit shines, as a former Disney star it would be a cheap shot to write off her tattoos and rainbow hair as typical child-star rebellion, but speaking with her, it becomes clear it’s more about asserting her identity and exploring the world through her own lens with a touch of self-preservation thrown in. In simple terms, “I’m just going to go do this and I’m not going to think about it too much.” And her coping techniques are more relatable than you might imagine, from hitting up arcades with her boyfriend pre-COVID  to more regular pastimes. “I’m just going to go work out and I’m just going to write my journal. I’m going to learn some French and I’m just, you know, fuck it. I’m just going to go spray paint my hair a funny colour. I’m going to go get my nails done. I have to kind of keep myself on my toes, otherwise I can very quickly get into this space where I’m afraid to do anything.”

Stella McCartney dress & turtleneck, Simon Miller earrings

Givenchy dress, Simon Miller shoes, Loren Stewart necklace

This fearless energy shows up a lot of places, in some of the roles she chooses- most notably the recent “Light in the Piazza performance where she played Clara which was a pivotal role for her in many ways, notably working with Adam Guettel and the outcome of that. “I’ve never felt more humbled and more grateful and to be trusted with something so difficult like that musical in that role. When you’re doing something like that, I think it’s quite easy to have yourself be in that space organically and remove what makes you, to stop thinking to just feel.”
Other expression of her spirit are more playful, she delighted in our shoot, throwing on feathers and pulling in her cat for a guest cameo, but one place she really owns her identity and expresses her feelings is through her tattoos. Speaking of the most recent she says “I got this massive snake surrounding my foot and my ankle. I know a lot of people can’t relate to why, but I also know that people who have been through traumatic experiences share that kind of trait of like, you kind of need to remind yourself of who you are. I guess to me it very precisely feels like I’m claiming myself”
It’s not just in her tattoos that she employs symbolism in her life. Her mother used to import jewellery and gifted her an old coin, she carries like a talisman. “It has very early design of the feminine divine on it, sort of this nondescript goddess character on the front of it. It’s so worn down because it’s purpose was to be prayed over. People would rub their fingers over it and pray over it in times of need or wishing for fertility, new life or transformation. I consider that very powerful. It’s got a lot of emotion in that.” I ask if it’s the feelings that it stirs which makes it significant but it goes deeper than that for her “My mother says it’s 3000 years old, she always spoke to me about the energy of certain stones, some she just couldn’t wear because they didn’t agree with her energy. It sounds really hippy dippy which is funny, if you meet my mom, because she’s the most practical person you’ve ever met in your life.” That sense of energy is something she clearly relates to though: “I guess I feel like the more you travel and the older the places you go to you understand things in a bigger context because America is so young and then you get a sense of what that means on a bigger scale. I talk about that with my boyfriend a lot where we talk about certain aspects of why America is the way that it is. I think a lot of that is because of its youth.”

Vintage T-shirt from Please & Thank You Store, Marni dress, Loren Stewart necklace, Simon Miller shoes

Collina Strada turtleneck courtesy of Shop LCD, Simon Miller pants, blazer & shoes, Loren Stewart earrings

Miu Miu dress

This is typical of Dove’s whip smart thinking pivoting from spirituality to philosophical musings effortlessly. Her social media is peppered with smart epithets on social issues and she’s not afraid to speak out on difficult subjects including abusive relationships. I ask if she feels a responsibility to her fan base to do this. To her mind, “Hollywood and Instagram is like peering through the keyhole into someones life, but important conversations do happen there.” In terms of what she shares though, it’s a mix of insights founded in her personal experience, “I do feel responsible for being somebody that I needed at that time, because I think those kinds of relationship are more common than people think. It can be very well hidden because it’s maybe not overt, or the person that you’re with is so cunning and so intelligent that they’re able to frame it in a way where you think everything is your fault. I want young women to be so well versed in what it is to be in an abusive relationship and what it is to be gaslit.”
It is important to her to have a balanced view on things, and right now she’s concerned with “cancel culture” because “the movement that’s happening right now, everybody is realising cancel culture is toxic. We need to hold ourselves and other people accountable for growth while also not punishing people, which is so important to talk about.” And her advice to her fans? “I would just challenge yourself to not jump to conclusions about people, to not judge people and to spend a lot of time taking care of yourself. I think you’ll find that your perception of other people changes.”
Ultimately this plays into her goals for herself “My deep, deep desire is just to be as authentic as humanly possible and hope that people catch on.. I guess I know I will be so miserable if I am constantly only thinking about what people want from me. I ask what happiness would mean for her and she answers back instantly it, “For me it’s simple, that feeling I get when I’m with my boyfriend just goofing off at the arcade. Fun and carefree and like you’re in this kind of perfect flow”.
Speaking of which, she’s about to release a new song, titled We Belong, that embodies all of that.  Her excitement about the track is palpable “It’s something that I fell in love with instantly. It kind of a weird one. I feel like I say that with every song I release. I’m always like, “It’s kind of weird, but follow me on this.”
Describing her sound she pauses for a second “I mean, it’s definitely alt pop, but it’s something that I think people are really going to like. My deep, deep desire is just to be as authentic as humanly possible and hope that people catch on.” Something which, given Dove’s warmth and vitality, we think they just might.
Dove’s new single “We Belong” will be available on July 24th on Spotify, Apple, Amazon and YouTube
Photography: Daria Kobayashi Ritch
Styling: Ashley Furnival
Makeup: Jenna Kristina using Costa Brazil Face Oil
Hair: Clayton Hawkins
Photography Assistant: Derec Patrick