When Zendaya joined the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming, it was presumed that she would wind up being the movie’s main female character. But actually, the actress who plays a much larger role in the Marvel Studios film is Laura Harrier.
Harrier, who portrays Liz in the movie, is not particularly well known, certainly not in the way that Zendaya is. She is 27-years-old, and she only started acting four years ago.
So who exactly is Laura Harrier, the main female protagonist of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and how did she wind up in one of the biggest movies of the summer? Here’s what you need to know about her.
1. Her First Role Was as Destiny Evans in the ‘One Life to Live’ Reboot
In 2013, production company Prospect Park premiered its reboot of One Life to Live, the hit ABC soap opera. This reboot was exclusive to the web, being made available on Hulu and on iTunes. Laura Harrier portrayed the character of Destiny Evans in 40 episodes total. Harrier would later say that it was a strange experience stepping into a property that had been around for so long.
“It was such a weird experience, being thrown into something where everyone else has been there for, like, 50 years,” Harrier told Interview Magazine. “I was replacing another actress, and soap fans are crazy; I would get hate mail.”
She went on to say, however, that this experience helped her hone her skills of memorization.
“It was good because I can memorize anything now,” Harrier told Interview Magazine. “They would throw you 50 pages a night, and you would have to know them right away.”
A second season of the One Life to Live reboot was never made, mainly due to legal conflicts with ABC. ABC used One Life to Live characters on General Hospital, prompting a lawsuit which caused Prospect Park to put the show’s production on hold. One Life to Live never picked up again, and the rights eventually went back to ABC.
Outside of One Life to Live, Harrier has had small roles in movies like The Last Five Years, but Spider-Man: Homecoming will be the first time the vast majority of America is introduced to her.
Early in 2016, Harrier went on several auditions and screen tests for Spider-Man: Homecoming, but she told W Magazine that she never expected to get the part.
“It literally didn’t cross my mind ever that I was going to get this role, ever,” Harrier said.
Harrier went on to say that she waited six weeks to find out if she got the part, just having to go about her normal life and not being able to tell anyone anything. Finally, she went out to get a massage because she was so stressed out.
“Afterwards, I checked my phone and had all these missed calls from my agent, and then I don’t even remember,” she told W Magazine. “I think I just sat on the floor and was like, holy s—.”
2. She Worked With Steve McQueen on an HBO Pilot
In 2015, Laura Harrier was cast in Codes of Conduct, an HBO miniseries that was being produced by Steve McQueen, the acclaimed director known for films like 12 Years a Slave. The series would also star Paul Dano, Helena Bonham Carter, and Rebecca Hall.
This would have been a major breakout role for Harrier, but unfortunately, HBO scrapped the project in early 2016.
“That was my first real job,” Harrier told W Magazine of Codes of Conduct. “I was like, ‘What is this? What has my life become?’”
Harrier still praises Steve McQueen and says that he was a great inspiration for her.
“He’s a genius, but also the nicest, coolest guy,” she told Interview Magazine.
Harrier also told the Chicago Tribune, “Steve McQueen is someone I’ve looked up to for so long. I think he has a strong, incredible voice and has done a lot for our community and is an important person in the world. He’s someone I look up to a lot.”
3. She Also Does Modeling Work
In addition to her acting career, Laura Harrier is also a model, working with companies such as American Eagle, L’Oréal, and Target.
Recently, Harrier participated in a modeling campaign for Calvin Klein.
Harrier actually pursued modeling before acting, but she told Love Magazine that soon after beginning her modeling career, she realized she wanted to become an actress instead, saying that she mainly went into modeling because she wasn’t sure she could make it as an actress.
“I loved film and always loved movies, but I didn’t think that could be a viable career,” she said.
In an interview with Vogue, Harrier said that she has a holistic approach to beauty.
“I’m not 100 percent [organic], but I’m trying to get as close to it as possible because I don’t want a bunch of chemicals leaking into my skin,” she told Vogue, recommending Repairative Moisturizer, Aesop’s Anti-Blemish Mask, and raw manuka honey.
4. She’s From Chicago & Currently Lives in Brooklyn
Laura Harrier is from Chicago, Illinois, born there in 1980. She told the Chicago Tribune that she is a Cubs fan. When she was seven, her parents moved her to Evanston, Illinois, according to Love Magazine.
“It was a really cool place to grow up,” Harrier said of Evanston. “It’s very liberal and diverse: racially, socioeconomically, in all ways.”
In an Instagram post in April, Harrier said that there’s nothing like coming home to Chicago. She wrote, “chicago how i ❤ you. i am so lucky to be able to travel all over the world, but there is nothing like coming home ❤❤❤”
Harrier currently lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn, according to W Magazine. She told W Magazine that she moved to New York in order to go to school at New York University. She later studied acting at William Esper Studio.
In addition, Harrier practices pottery at a ceramics studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
5. Her Father Works in Insurance & Her Mom is a Speech Pathologist
Laura Harrier is not an actor who was born into the entertainment industry. Rather, she was the first person in her family to pursue a career in the arts.
Harrier told Interview Magazine that her dad works in insurance and her mom is a speech pathologist.
“My parents are smart, creative people but not involved in this stuff whatsoever,” she said.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, when asked who her heroes are, Harrier named her parents.
“Definitely my parents,” she said. “I come from a family of strong women, who have been positive role models for me”