Words by Julia Eskins
Photos by Aleyah Solomon
They say that eyes are the windows to the soul, but for Greta Fernández, they’re also the inherited feature that makes her instantly recognizable in the streets of Barcelona. She refers to her hypnotic gaze as “a gift” from her father, famed Spanish actor Eduard Fernández. After following in his footsteps to silver screen stardom, the 22-year-old is carving her own niche as an actress-photographer-influencer, a triple threat in the digital age.
We meet in the neighbourhood of Dreta de l’Eixample, where the palm trees and Modernista buildings appear even more golden in the late afternoon sun. Fernández has one hour to kill before she returns to set, where she’ll wrap up shooting her part in a short film called New Senses. The Barcelona-based actress has been in hot demand since her 2015 breakthrough role in Claire Carré’s science fiction indie Embers. Before that, she appeared in films alongside her father, including Truman (2015), Three Days with the Family (2009) and her first film, Fiction (2006).
“My father inspires me a lot and teaches me to be calm, have hope and not give up. Now we’re trying to separate a little bit, but it’s hard because he’s a really famous actor here and everybody knows that I’m his daughter. It’s really obvious because our eyes are similar,” she says.
While speaking English, Fernández favours a North American accent that she inexplicably picked up from Hollywood movies, much to the chagrin of her British tutors. Up until recently, she’s lived at her parents’ home, a sun-drenched oasis in the heart of the historical Gothic district.
“It’s a beautiful huge apartment with lots of light and colours, just like Cuba. I live in Gràcia now, though – it’s a happy little village! Four months ago I was like, ‘I love this house, I love this area, but I have to go!’” she says, stretching out the “O” sound for dramatic effect.
Fernández’s charisma has propelled her into new areas beyond the film industry, such as fashion. In a few days, she’ll be jet setting to Madrid to shoot with Chanel for Glamour Spain. Meanwhile in Barcelona, she’s the latest “it girl” for brands to partner with. Today, she’s decked out in pieces from local designers, including a bag from backpack brand Ölend and an outfit from Barcelona-based label Yerse that’s so comfortable she plans to “wear it all summer long.”
“The truth is, I don’t know about fashion as much as people think,” she admits with a laugh. “I’m starting to try to make my followers understand that I’m an actress and not just an Instagram girl.”
To prove her dedication to her craft, Fernández recently acted in her first play, a rite of passage for most burgeoning performers. While the theatre gig left her appreciating Mondays and Tuesdays (her days off during Amanda T’s intensive four-week run) it also piqued her interest in transforming into complex characters.
“It makes you see yourself very differently. My favourite role was probably the one that I just finished yesterday, a Spanish film that they’re still shooting. They changed me a lot physically – my hair was really big and I loved it.”
Being on set and watching the still photographers in action has inspired Fernández’s own interest in pursuing a side career in photography. Using her Sony Alpha, she’ll often snap portraits of artists, models, friends and family.
Our walk through Barcelona takes us past a restaurant called Firebug near Arc de Triomf, where she requests we stop for a beer. Coincidentally, this was one of her favourite terraces to frequent after performances and rehearsals for the play. Naturally, we choose a table in the sun.
“In Barcelona, even if it’s winter, we sit outside!” she affirms before ordering a pint in rapid fire Spanish. She switches back to English and begins rolling a cigarette. “My friend’s dad owns a bar in El Raval called Chelo and we go there a lot because they have a sunny, little terrace and really nice sandwiches and juices. When I’m in Gràcia, I’ll usually find a terrace in the sun. It’s not hard because the sun is everywhere!”
With wide eyes and an enthusiastic cadence, Fernández practically beams when she speaks about the beauty of Barcelona. Lately, her career progress has meant more flights to Madrid and international cities. It’s all part of a day’s work, which Fernández is reminded of as she peeks at her phone and realizes she has to go back to set. Tonight, she’ll be shooting until the wee hours of the morning.
“Arrastrando,” she mutters, which roughly translates to tiredly dragging your feet somewhere.
As Fernández springs up and gives us a kiss goodbye, her tone shifts back to that happy-go-lucky place. She walks off, looking back once – her dark brown eyes catching the last shred of light to fall upon Passeig de Sant Joan. In them is a glimmer of hope; the familiar look of an actor on the cusp of something bigger and brighter than the Barcelona sun. ■
@gretafernandez | @greta.photography
*Originally seen in Here & There Magazine's Barcelona issue as 'Girl on the Verge', released April 2017