Vulnerability is a compelling contrast to a character that’s otherwise visceral. There is an air of relatability to such portrayals, even more so when the actor behind the work comes from a place of genuine understanding.

American Honey star Sasha Lane plays her character from a place of the pain of having a dark childhood, divorced parents, and facing racial discrimination.

Troubled Childhood Made Who Lane Is Today

Lane moved around a lot in her childhood. Hopping between Texas and Florida, she raised her siblings with her as her mother was not around much. She had to function as a moral and emotional glue to keep the family together, all the while breaking apart from within.

Trying hard to stay strong, when a hard day was passing, she would lock herself in the closest and give herself 10 seconds to cry. Once done, the tears would roll back, and the face would stretch in strength.

Doing so, she grew up at an early age. Born to an African-American father and a Māori mother, her personality has its foundation in childhood difficulty.

That being said, she has been reluctant to go into the details of it. When asked questions about her childhood, she replied she doesn’t know how to speak of them yet, hinting towards unresolved turbulences.

All of these experiences have given her a solemn identity. She was never allowed to have a room of her own, or read books of her own. Only when she was 18, she broke away to express herself in the form of ink on the skin. She now has 17 tattoos, each a fragment of her unique identity.  

Battles With Mental Illness Gave Way To Self Realization

In this regard, high school seems to have been particularly tough for the now 25-year-old actress. Moving from place to place didn’t allow her to have a set social circle and displaced her from the moral support of her elder brother.

Going to college, then, was the last straw. She would hear dark voices in her head; she couldn’t sleep, rendering her in a constant limbo of suppressed moods and fatigue. 

The friends she kept were also narrow-minded with the same reductionist mentality.

She eventually got diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. It was a hard time for her since nobody understood her, and it was difficult for her to explain to the people who cared about her. 

In an interview, The American Honey star told the Guardian that her problems do not just concern a particular thing, but a clutter of everything. One of those things seems to be a lack of support from those around her as well.

That being said, she turned this into her strength as she that what she has achieved so far has all been through her hard work.

Being Called Not “Black Enough” Shaped Her Empathy 

Another issue she faces is that she is often accused of not being “black enough” or “too black” for something. Her mixed heritage and her ambiguous features were treated as anomalies, and she realized this discrimination from an early age.

The friends she kept were also narrow-minded with the same reductionist mentality. Perhaps this negativity propelled her to be more accepting of the differences of others. 

With all of this going on, it must have felt liberating to break away from the shallowness surrounding her when Andrea Arnold discovered her and cast her for American Honey.

Arnold, the director, and the opportunity she offered was the jump the 25-year-old needed to fly high in the world of Hollywood.

American Honey won the Cannes Jury Prize, while Lane won Best Actress at the British Independent Film Awards, 2016.

Since then, she has starred in various movies like HellboyDaniel Isn’t Real, and series like UtopiaConversation with Friends, a new TV series that Lane is starring in, is in pre-production, set to release in 2021.