This story originally appeared in InStyle’s August issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to the magazine now.
It’s a safe bet that few actresses count Lizzie McGuire as a drama coach. But Israeli-born Odeya Rush, determined to achieve her goal of acting in America, did indeed study English through the misadventures and mannerisms of the Disney Channel heroine. As Rush‘s acting ambitions grew, her family relocated to the United States, first to Alabama, then New Jersey, and finally L.A.
This month, the prep work all pays off with the 17-year-old’s pivotal role in the movie adaptation of the dystopian novel The Giver, alongside Oscar winners Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep and superstar Taylor Swift. (She and Rush have become pals and sometimes get together for movie nights.) Over a chicken salad at the eatery Lobby Bar and Bistro in Atlanta, where she’s shooting R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, Rush recalls her sometimes-bumpy adjustment to life in the States. “In Israel, if a person doesn’t agree with you, she just says no. In Alabama, someone would say, ‘I’ll think about it.’ We would take that literally. So, if you ask for a favor and someone says they’ll think about it, they’re really not thinking about it.”
Those insights, and life with six brothers, shaped a striking self-assurance in the star, who confidently walks première red carpets in Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, and Miu Miu. In her downtime, she sports boyfriend jeans and blazers by Alice + Olivia and Free People.
“Everyone asks me if I’m the princess or if my brothers beat me up,” she says, pausing for effect. “The younger ones I can deck pretty easily. With the older ones, it’s harder.”