Ivy Levan is an entertainment triple threat – model, singer, and now actor playing the dual role of aspiring supermodel and the corpse of that deceased model in a “pitch-black comedy” now showing on Showtime. Ivy shares what led to this role.
In some circles, or social networks, it is not often that you read a Facebook post from a friend stating that her daughter is the lead actress in a movie premiering on Showtime. Recently, however, that is exactly what I read. Della Levan invited her friends to watch the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous and see daughter Ivy Levan’s performance as Cynthia.
Before viewing the film, I decided to learn a bit more about it. Written and directed by former fashion photographer Philip Alderton, the 2010 film was released on DVD in the US in February 2011 and features a cast that includes Steven Berkoff (The Tourist, Beverly Hills Cop, Octopussy, A Clockwork Orange), Jeremy London (Chasing the Green, Fatal Secrets, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Mallrats), Josh Coxx (Thor, The Last House on the Left, Peter Riggs in Strong Medicine), Natasha Alam (Yvetta in the TV series True Blood, The Women, Shadow Puppets), and introduces Ivy Levan.
The Drop Dead Gorgeouswebsite provides an extended synopsis of the film and calls it a “dark and extreme comedy.” Netflix indicates the genres that Drop Dead Gorgeous falls within are “Comedies, Mockumentaries, Satires” and describes the film as a “black comedy.”
Showtime summarizes Drop Dead Gorgeous as follows: An aspiring supermodel chosen to be the face of a top designer's new campaign and the focus of a documentary about her rise creates a slight problem when she dies in mid-filming, forcing her producers to find a creative solution to the issue of a deceased star. Jeremy London, Steven Berkoff and Ivy Levan star in this pitch-black comedy that satirizes the worlds of fashion and film.
Courtesy of Della Levan
On the set of Drop Dead Gorgeous with Steven Berkoff, Jeremy London, and Ivy Levan.
Also, it is not a remake of the 1999 PG-13 movie of the same name; rather, Drop Dead Gorgeous is rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, and drug references. Without those elements, how else would viewers “see the fashion industry as you've never seen it before, in all its sexy, seedy glory!”
The aspiring and ultimately deceased, but still working, supermodel Cynthia Barris is played by Ivy Levan. Curious about this daughter of a friend and Bentonville, Arkansas native who had made her way to Hollywood, I read Ivy’s bio on the Drop Dead Gorgeous website, asked her mother, Della, about Ivy and her career, and Della also put me in touch with Ivy herself.
The cast bio for Ivy Levan discusses her modeling career and the true outlets for this “highly talented, creative rebel” – music and acting. In part, the bio states that Ivy “stumbled upon Drop Dead Gorgeous, read the script and instantly saw her life flash before her own eyes.”
Through the medium of Facebook messaging, Ivy Levan graciously agreed to answer a few questions that I posed about her career path that ultimately led to her first acting role playing Cynthia in Drop Dead Gorgeous.
I asked Ivy to tell me more about what the sentence in her bio meant in terms of seeing “her life flash before her own eyes.” Going back to being raised in Bentonville, Ivy said, “What I remember the most about my early years spent growing up there is simply that I never felt like I fit in entirely.”
“Unlike a lot my friends whose goals were to go on to college, marry, have a family, etc.,” said Ivy, “I had a different picture painted in my head for my future.”
Ivy spoke of joining “the cheerleading squad because I felt alive in front of a crowd. Especially a crowd that I was capable of getting a reaction from. I started competing in local pageants knowing that being on stage is where I felt most at home.”
For Ivy, pageants were not about scholarships or gaining popularity. “I wanted experience,” she said. “The one thing I knew that could help me down the road.”
The experience in front of audiences caused Ivy to want more. “I craved more,” she said. Eventually, Ivy approached her mother, whom she knew supported her “100%,” and said, “I want to be a model.” Ivy continued, “Surely that would be a stepping stone towards becoming an iconic singer/entertainer. Right? So without hesitation my mother did her research and placed me into a model search convention in Kansas City.”
Photo by Peter Eaton Gurnz courtesy of Della Levan
Model Ivy Levan.
Shortly thereafter, at the age of 16, Ivy Levan signed with Next Model Management in Los Angeles. It was there that Ivy met one of the bookers/managers at the agency, Corrie Caster. “She was drawn to me instantly as I was to her,” said Ivy. “She wanted to know more about me other than that I was a new pretty face to make bank off of. I told her what my true passion in life was, music. Once she heard me sing it was a whole different mission in her eyes.”
“From there,” according to Ivy, “things have just have been a roller coaster of ups and downs. The typical thrill ride that comes with moving to Hollywood.” Ivy was signed to Virgin Records, recorded a demo album by age 19, but left Virgin after two years due to creative differences. “I had an edge, a sort of darker side that the ‘suits’ couldn't quite understand,” said Ivy. That “edge” is illustrated in the video above featuring Ivy Levan singing “Shot Thru the Heart.”
After taking “a couple years off from the singing biz,” during which she “focused on being a young adult in Hollywood,” Ivy, now 24, said that “Corrie [Caster] presented this opportunity to do a movie that was basically my life on pages. I read the script and fell in love. Auditioned and immediately got the part. Next thing I knew I was on set as the lead roll along side of Steven Berkoff and Jeremy London in Drop Dead Gorgeous. It was a blast to film. It was a dark comedy. I felt really at home.”
Courtesy of Della Levan
Ivy Levan as Cynthia in Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Ivy’s mother, Della, acknowledged that Drop Dead Gorgeous was a “low budget film,” but said, like many reviewers have indicated, “Ivy really does stand out.” Della was also able to put to rest a claim that I had read while researching Ivy. Has Ivy had cosmetic surgery? “Ivy has never had cosmetic surgery,” said Della. “It’s mainly [because of] her lips that people think that, but she was born with those lips.”
Della Levan is obviously very proud of her daughter Ivy. “She is so multi-talented and determined to make it in Hollywood,” said Della. “It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years.” For example, according to Della, Drop Dead Gorgeous “was filmed in late 2008/09 and is just now on DVD. And some never make it to DVD or Showtime. That’s why it’s a big deal for Ivy and me both. It shows some of her hard work.”
Drop Dead Gorgeous can be seen on Showtime through August 8, rented via Netflix, rented or purchased at local video stores, or purchased through amazon.com. In terms of what’s next for Ivy Levan, I’m told that it is only a matter of time before audiences hear more from this multi-talented model, singer, and actor.