Future movie stars can be discovered in the darnedest places: Charlize Theron in a bank, Lana Turner in a malt shop, Harrison Ford installing a door for George Lucas.
Add Sasha Lane's name to that list, after her discovery on Panama City Beach during spring break 2014. Lane, then 19, was a Texas State University student seeking fun when fame found her.
Director Andrea Arnold needed a fresh, free spirit to showcase in American Honey (R), a post-millennial road trip opening Friday at Sundial 19 in St. Petersburg, after last week's postponement.
Arnold spotted Lane — a vibrant, mixed-race beauty — and saw her Star, the name of American Honey's lead character. She approached, a stranger with a proposition sounding too good to be true, especially during spring break.
"I'm all about the feeling, the vibe of things," Lane, 21, said by telephone. "I've had people come up to me and say weird things, and I'm definitely one to be like, 'No.' There was just something very trusting and right about her. … At least when I got in her car I said, 'Look, if you're going to kill me, let me know now because people know where I am.' It was a little warning. But it just felt right. I definitely don't recommend (talking to strangers) but it worked for me."
Lane's risks are calculated, with studies in psychology and social work guiding her decision to join the project and her performance.
"I wanted (the performance) to be authentic just as much as Andrea did," Lane said. "If something felt weird or didn't feel natural, I'd … have to re-create my head space.
"I just kind of let my mind go, and let all my fears go, because it's like: You're Star, you're in this, in that zone of being in the van and being in motels. That space helped keep my mind in that world."
Lane's world after American Honey is much different: a Cannes coronation as this year's It Girl and front row seats at Louis Vuitton's runway in Paris. She calls the attention "amazing," "shocking" and "humbling."
"I'm new to all this, so it's like, 'Wow, thank you for thinking of me,' " Lane said. "I definitely have my freak out moments, not knowing how to take everything, you know? So many good things are happening, it's all good news and I'm, like, whoa, who's that?
"I don't know if I'm ready but I'm pretty stoked for it."