“Alexandra Shipp was convinced she had no chance. Last year, when the actress auditioned for director Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse, she thought she’d go home empty-handed. “It was stressful and scary and rough, but I was living on Top Ramen at the time so I made myself go so I could at least steal all the muffins,” she explains over iced coffee and a muffin at an L.A. café. “Desperate times.”
But the 25-year-old from Phoenix — who previously starred in Aaliyah: Princess of R&B as the late singer and appeared in last year’s Straight Outta Compton — did far more than carb-load that day. She snagged the part of Ororo Munroe, a petty thief from Cairo whose ability to manipulate the weather attracts the attention of the big baddie Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who brings her into his evil fold as a white-mohawked havoc-wreaker named Storm.
“I found out I got the job via Tweet. My manager and agent called me at the same time — which is either really good, really bad, or someone died — and told me to go to Bryan’s Twitter page. There it was, him welcoming the new mutants. I just stared at that for, like, 10 minutes, making sure it was me.”
Shipp still can’t quite get over that she gets to play the younger version of a character originated by Halle Berry in the first four X-Men films. “It’s so flattering to be the O.G. Halle,” Shipp says. “Someone is saying I look enough like that gorgeous woman to play a younger version? Oh my God. I love Halle. I want to know how she smells. But also, when I first moved out to L.A. at 17, my mom said, ‘Pick an actress who has the type of career that you want. Don’t do exactly what they did, but use them as a roadmap.’
For me, it was Halle, the first woman of color to win a lead female Oscar…”