Penélope Cruz brings her renowned energy to philanthropic and charitable work – and now she is designing jewellery for Swarovski. LUX speaks with the Spanish-born Hollywood superstar
LUX: Where do you call home?
Penélope Cruz: Madrid. I grew up in a place called Alcobendas, a suburb of Madrid, with my sister Mónica and our parents and after with my brother Eduardo. My earliest memories are of being in my home every Sunday, everybody cleaning the house. There was always music, and everybody was dancing. My mother ran a hair salon, and between the ages of five and 12, I would go to the salon and listen to the women. I don’t know why but women in a hair salon share their deepest secrets. They would share everything with everybody. That was the first acting school for me.
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LUX: Tell us how your collaboration with Swarovski came about?
Penélope Cruz: The whole process evolved very naturally. I had worn some beautiful Atelier Swarovski pieces at various events. But it was when I met Nadja Swarovski and she spoke in depth about Swarovski’s work with sustainability that I became inspired to work on a collection with her. I really care about having a positive impact on the planet, and Swarovski has a rich history of putting sustainability at the heart of what it does.
LUX: What interested you in working with Swarovski Created Diamonds in particular?
Penélope Cruz: Before speaking with Nadja, I didn’t realise that it was possible to create stones in a lab with a low impact on the environment. As soon as I became aware of Swarovski Created Diamonds and other lab-grown precious stones, I wanted to start designing pieces and use them.
LUX: Your jewellery designs seem to have a vintage Hollywood feel. Have you always been drawn to the aesthetics of the era?
Penélope Cruz: My fine jewellery collection has a classic red-carpet aesthetic and I always go back to that – they are timeless pieces that I would always choose to wear. I think there is something for every woman in what we have created.
LUX: What is the most important thing you learned from this collaboration about how to bring a design concept to life?
Penélope Cruz: It has been an amazing learning experience. I’m very lucky that Nadja and the team have given me such creative freedom. I begin the design process by pulling together images and references of things I love, and then spend hours with the designers to distil the clippings from movies, novels, paintings, ballet dancers and vintage markets into a jewellery collection that tells the story.
LUX: Would you encourage a young person to pursue a career in acting?
Penélope Cruz: It has been an incredible honour and pleasure to build a career as an actor, and to be surrounded by so many brilliant artists in theatre, film and television. Sometimes it can be a huge challenge, but I would encourage any young person to follow their dreams, listen to their heart, work hard and stay away from drugs – whether that is in the creative industries or beyond.
LUX: When you aren’t working on a film, what personal or creative projects do you focus on?
Penélope Cruz: From the age of seven I loved redesigning the clothing and jewellery from the pages of my favourite fashion magazines. So, working on jewellery design projects is a big passion for me and I have been honoured to have the chance to fulfil my childhood dream with Atelier Swarovski, season after season.
LUX: How does your family help you to stay grounded?
Penélope Cruz: I have always kept my personal and professional lives separate. Being with my family gives me so much happiness and it is my priority.
LUX: What inspired your activism, such as your involvement with the Time’s Up movement?
Penélope Cruz: I feel very strongly about the causes I support, and I have noticed a difference in Hollywood since the Time’s Up movement created a sweeping dialogue about the treatment of women. It is already having an impact on the kind of questions we get asked in interviews. Previously, you would be in a press conference and the women would mainly be asked very rude or superficial questions. People are more careful now. It’s symbolic, but hopefully we are understanding how to treat each other with more respect. And these are issues which affect women in all industries and everywhere in the world. If we don’t all do this together, it’s useless.
LUX: Do you have a dream film or television project you would like to direct yourself?
Penélope Cruz: I’ve always wanted to direct. I have directed commercials and a documentary before but hopefully I will be able to do a full-length feature film someday.
LUX: What is it like working with a director such as Pedro Almodóvar, someone you’ve worked with for years?
Penélope Cruz: Pedro is like family; he is very important to me and holds a special place in my heart because he was the reason why I became an actress. I’m excited that we are making a new movie next year.
LUX: What type of music do you enjoy? Is there a track that makes you want to dance?
Penélope Cruz: I’m a big fan of everything that Pharrell Williams does. He’s an amazing producer and songwriter. I also love Eduardo Cruz’s work. He is my brother and we are very close, but I admire his work as a composer and producer so much. He just did the soundtrack for the film Wasp Network.
LUX: Has the past year changed your outlook on life?
Penélope Cruz: We are experiencing a huge moment of social change and I am still processing the transformations that are occurring around us. However, I believe that the values I hold closest – truth, justice and equality, respect for the planet and kindness towards others – will grow in strength. We truly are all one and we have to commit to creating a better tomorrow.
View Penélope Cruz’s designs for Swarovski: atelierswarovski.com
This article features in the Autumn Issue, which will be published later this month.