Cara Delevingne – How Addiction Shaped Her Career
Cara Delevingne was born into royalty but has forged her own acting career throughout the years with her fame only growing
As Cara Delevingne once said to Vogue magazine, “People are my jam,” and in her own unique way, she has proven that time and again. Sometimes her “jam” has gotten her into trouble and sometimes it has allowed her to get stuff off her chest. Through it all, though, once Cara Delevingne discovered who she truly was, she hasn’t offered any apologies (why should she?), and she definitely hasn’t looked back. So, who is this superstar model/actress/singer?
YOUNG CARA DELEVINGNE
Cara Delevingne was born on August 12, 1992, in Hammersmith, London. The 30-year-old has two older sisters, one being Poppy Delevingne, an English model and actress in her own right. Cara Delevingne comes from society as her grandfather was the publishing executive Sir Jocelyn Stevens, he being the nephew of magazine publisher Sir Edward George Warris Hulton, along with being the grandson of newspaper owner Sir Edward Hulton. Cara’s maternal grandmother was Janie Sheffield, who was the lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret. To say Cara Delevingne is “connected” would be an understatement.
At the age of 16, Cara Delevingne moved from the Francis Holland School for Girls to Bedales School so she could focus on her music and drama. While she was attempting to shape her own future, she also realized what her family was all about and sadly the toll it was, and continues to be, taking. “My family was kind of about that whole parties–and–horse racing thing. I can understand it’s fun for some. I never enjoyed it,” she explained in a 2015 interview with Vogue.
It was then that Cara focused on what may have shaped her childhood – her mother Pandora’s drug addiction. “It shapes the childhood of every kid whose parent has an addiction,” Cara said at the time. “You grow up too quickly because you’re parenting your parents. My mother’s an amazingly strong person with a huge heart, and I adore her. But it’s not something you get better from, I don’t think. I know there are people who have stopped and are fine now, but not in my circumstance. She’s still struggling.”
It wasn’t only her mother’s addiction that Cara Delevingne had to deal with. When Cara was nine, she was told she had the reading level of a sixteen-year-old and when she turned sixteen, it was just the opposite. She was told her reading level was that of a nine-year-old. She found out she suffered from dyspraxia. This is where thoughts and movements worked together and hers weren’t doing so well. Writing became hard for her and school exams even worse.
To make matters even worse, she had her own issues with depression that started when she turned 15. “This is something I haven’t been open about, but it’s a huge part of who I am,” she confessed. “All of a sudden I was hit with a massive wave of depression and anxiety and self-hatred, where the feelings were so painful that I would slam my head against a tree to try to knock myself out. I never cut, but I’d scratch myself to the point of bleeding. I just wanted to dematerialize and have someone sweep me away.”
To help her cope, Cara was given psychotropics which she says were “stronger stuff than Prozac,” though she doesn’t recall what the combination consisted of. “I smoked a lot of pot as a teenager, but I was completely mental with or without drugs.” The legions of therapists she saw didn’t help. “I thought that if I wanted to act, I’d need to finish school, but I got so I couldn’t wake up in the morning. The worst thing was that I knew I was a lucky girl, and the fact that you would rather be dead…you just feel so guilty for those feelings, and it’s this vicious circle. Like, how dare I feel that way? So, you just attack yourself some more.”
But there was a light at the end of her depressing tunnel. One of her older sisters, Poppy, was a model on the rise and Cara had been noticed by a classmate’s father, who was an agency executive. It wasn’t an easy start for Cara, though. It took her a full year of modeling before she actually grabbed her first paying gig and two seasons before she landed her very first runway show.
“The first time I walked into Burberry,” she told Vogue, “the woman just said, ‘Turn around, go away.’” To add to that humiliation, Cara also had to contend with skeevy photographers. “And all the test shoots with the pervy men. Never trust a straight photographer at a test shoot.”
CARA DELEVINGNE WAS A MODEL FIRST
2011 was the moment of reckoning for Cara Delevingne. She was 18 and was finally beginning to grow into her modeling career, i.e., a late bloomer. It was Christopher Bailey of Burberry fame who finally put Cara into its spring campaign and life for Cara turned on a dime. Those big, beefy eyebrows took over along with that smile that tried hard to hide the trouble it could, and eventually would, cause. It was a look that would gain her a following of momentous proportion.
Even though modeling was opening up worlds to Cara, something she found quite entertaining, it was the hold her “handlers” had on her that was making the supermodel an unhappy camper. “My agents told me what to do, and I did it,” Cara explained of her early modeling days. “When I got in trouble, they told me off. It was a machine that I wasn’t controlling.” Things got so bad for the model Cara that she began to pass out during her photoshoots. She also began to develop a very serious case of psoriasis. “It was like the disgusting way I felt inside was transposing itself on my skin. Somebody should have said stop.”
Thankfully she had friends who finally convinced her to step away for a while. Cara found herself in Los Angeles where she dove into the sun, music, and poetry. It had the effect she was hoping for because the psoriasis disappeared. Unfortunately, she gave up one vice for another. She began to hit the party scene like it was going to end the next day. She realized that she needed to be doing things at all times. “The life of the party is an easy part for me to play. It rots your insides, though.”
Cara Delevingne understood the way addiction worked, she had seen it with her mother. Sometimes, though, it can be right in front of your face, but you still look past it. Cara was on a constant bender. She had no conception of all the powders that were offered and that she took, she just knew the “life of the party” is what she needed to be. Although Cara felt that at the time she was being as normal as any of the other people her age, she also notes that “I definitely have that addict gene. For me, it comes out in an addiction to work. I’d probably have done more drugs back then if I hadn’t been working like mad.”
THEN SHE WAS A SINGER AND AN ACTRESS
To know Cara Delevingne is to also know that she is immensely talented and not only for her modeling and acting. Cara can play the guitar and rock it on the drums as well. On top of that, the lady can sing. Over a two-year span in 2011-12, she wrote and recorded two albums. She was offered a recording contract but eventually turned it down because she was told she’d have to change her name. Throughout the years, Cara has continued to sing and record and make music videos as well. One of her bigger titles came when she sang with Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar on “Bad Blood.” She also had a nice hit with the song “I Feel Everything” from her film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Speaking of films, becoming an actress and not a model, had always been Cara Delevingne’s goal. Her very first role came back in 2012 in the film Anna Karenina which starred the likes of Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Cara played Princess Sorokina in the film. It took her two more years (she was dealing with her modeling career) before she got in front of the camera again. This time it was for the film The Face of an Angel.
Her next significant role on film came in 2015 with the adaptation of John Green’s novel, Paper Towns. Although the film never really took off, Cara Delevingne’s performance was well-received. This led her to star as the “Mermaids” in the film, Pan, a retelling of the story of the boy who never grew up.
2016 was a good year for Cara and her acting career. She starred in the British coming-of-age drama, Kids in Love, opposite Will Poulter and Alma Jodorowsky. Then she was on board for the first attempt at DC’s Suicide Squad that had her playing the big baddie, Enchantress. Even with the big-name actors (Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis), the movie didn’t turn out to be the runaway hit that was expected.
Since that time, though, Cara Delevingne has continued to find herself on the big screen. She followed up Suicide Squad with Tulip Fever, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Her Smell, and London Fields. In 2019, she joined the TV series Carnival Row and in 2020 was in the film Life in a Year. Most recently, Cara was seen in the hit Hulu mystery/comedy Only Murders in the Building. Life for Cara Delevingne on the big (and small) screen doesn’t appear to be slowing down, either as she has three projects already lined up.
SHE IS NO LONGER ASHAMED
Much of Cara Delevingne’s career has been a roller coaster and the ups and downs have mainly surrounded her personal life. She is a self-described bisexual and pansexual and now, she has no issues with talking about it or even shouting it from various rooftops. But as a kid, she says she was very confused by her sexuality, and the simple thought that she might be gay frightened her.
“It took me a long time to accept the idea, until I first fell in love with a girl at 20 and recognized that I had to accept it,” she said to Vogue in her lengthy 2015 interview. “But I have erotic dreams only about men. I had one two nights ago where I went up to a guy in the back of a VW minivan, with a bunch of his friends around him, and pretty much jumped him.”
Her personal life has included both men and women, some famous, some not so. Her love life over the past few years has shown exactly that as she has been involved with guys and gals. “Women are what completely inspire me, and they have also been my downfall. I have only been hurt by women, my mother first of all,” she claimed in 2015. But “The thing is, if I ever found a guy I could fall in love with, I’d want to marry him and have his children. And that scares me to death because I think I’m a whole bunch of crazy, and I always worry that a guy will walk away once he really, truly knows me.” Her choices, though, have led to much talk and controversy.
THE CONTROVERSIES SURROUNDING CARA DELEVIGNE
One of Cara Delevingne’s more “popular” controversies came in 2018 when she made mention on her Instagram page that Beyoncé’s Coachella Music Festival performance left her speechless. Her exact words, “I am speechless.”
But she was quickly taken to task by her almost 43 million followers who began to call her a hypocrite for following the Festival and making a nice comment about Queen B. You see, before the event, Cara had spoken out about the festival by supporting the #NoChella movement that had celebrities boycotting the festival because the owners of the big music fest had reported donations to anti-LGBTQ causes.
In 2017, Cara had been outspoken about the incident she had with serial predator Harvey Weinstein but later starred in a Jimmy Choo commercial that had Cara Delevingne walking around at nighttime in New York City, gaining catcalls, looks, and all-around attention from the men she passed in the night. This did not sit well with her following.
And then there was the very strange behavior at the 2022 Billboard Awards in which Cara Delevingne was the “hype woman” for rapper Megan Thee Stallion. Cara was seen in many pictures and videos trailing the rapper, taking pictures of others surrounding the rapper, and being what The Daily Beast called, “Hollywood’s weirdest – and Most Unwelcome – Party Girl.” Oh, Cara to “weird” to a new level that night, even to the point where she was down on all fours while Mega was rapping and pretending to lick her leg like a dog. It had Twitter asking, “Can we ban Cara Delevingne from Hollywood?”
Cara Delevingne eventually responded to her Billboard “performance” when she was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, telling the host “I was living my best life, but people found it a bit odd. People find me a bit odd, but that’s me. No shame.” Cara continued, “I was helping her and I was doing it, and I was going like, ‘Yeah girl!’ I was hyping her up, being a hype woman. That’s what I do, I was just really excited.”