Chloë Stevens Sevigny (/ˈkloʊ.iː ˈsɛvəni/; born November 18, 1974) is an American actress, fashion designer, and former model. She established a reputation for her eclectic fashion sense, and developed a broad career in the fashion industry in the mid-to-late 1990s for modeling and her intern work at New York City's Sassy Magazine. In 1994, she attracted the attention of journalist Jay McInerney, who wrote a 7-page article about her for The New Yorker, in which he called a then 19-year-old Sevigny the "coolest girl in the world."
Sevigny made her film debut with a leading role in the controversial film Kids (1995), written by Harmony Korine, which led to an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her performance. A long line of roles in generally well-received independent and often avant-garde films throughout the decade established Sevigny's reputation as "Queen of the Indies." In 1999, Sevigny won eight acting awards and gained serious significant recognition for her role as Lana Tisdel in the true story Boys Don't Cry, earning her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Sevigny continued acting in mostly independent art house films, such as American Psycho (2000), Party Monster (2003), and Dogville (2003). Her role in the art house film The Brown Bunny (2003) caused significant controversy because of a scene in which she performs unsimulated fellatio. Her films since then have included Melinda and Melinda (2004), Manderlay (2005), and Zodiac (2007).
From 2006 to 2011, Sevigny played a leading role in the HBO television series Big Love, for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in 2010. She then appeared in several television projects, including lead roles in Hit & Miss (2012) and American Horror Story: Hotel (2015–2016), and recurring roles on American Horror Story: Asylum (2012–2013), Bloodline (2014), and Portlandia. Sevigny has two Off-Broadway theatre credits, and has starred in several music videos. She has also designed several wardrobe collections, most recently with Manhattan's Opening Ceremony boutique.
Sevigny was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and raised in Darien, Connecticut by her Polish American mother Janine (née Malinowski) and father H. David Sevigny, an accountant turned interior painter of French Canadian heritage. Sevigny's father died of cancer in 1996. She has an older brother, Paul, who is a New York disc jockey. Sevigny often spent summers attending theatre camp, with leading roles in plays run by the YMCA; she had always aspired to be an actress despite her interest waxing and waning over the years. Sevigny would often play dress up as a child with trunks of clothing her mother would buy for her at local second-hand shops, describing it as "instinctual" for her. She was raised in a Roman Catholic household, and attended Darien High School, where she was a member of the Alternative Learning Program. While in high school, she often babysat actor Topher Grace and his younger sister. Despite Darien's wealthy reputation, Sevigny's parents kept a "frugal" household, and she worked as a teenager sweeping the tennis courts of a country club her family could not afford to join.
During her teenage years, Sevigny became something of a rebel: "I was very well-mannered, and my mother was very strict. But I did hang out at the Mobil station and smoke cigarettes." She also began sarcastically referring to her hometown as "Aryan Darien." Between her junior and senior year of high school, she shaved her head and sold her hair to a Broadway wigmaker. She openly admitted to using drugs as a teenager, especially hallucinogens, but said she was never a "good drug user". She has commented that her father was aware of her experimentation with hallucinogens and marijuana, and even told her that it was okay, but that she had "to stop if she had bad trips". Despite her father's leniency, her mother later chose to send her to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In 2007, she told The Times that "I had a great family life – I would never want it to look as if it reflected on them. I think I was very bored, and I did just love taking hallucinogens... but I often feel it's because I experimented when I was younger that I have no interest as an adult. I know a lot of adults who didn't, and it's much more dangerous when you start experimenting with drugs as an adult." She often described herself as a "loner" and a "depressed teenager". Her only extracurricular activity was occasionally skateboarding with her older brother, and she spent most of her free time in her bedroom: "Mostly I sewed. I had nothing better to do, so I made my own clothes."
As a teenager, Sevigny would occasionally ditch school in Darien and catch the train into Manhattan. In 1992, at age 17, she was spotted on an East Village street by Andrea Linett, a fashion editor of Sassy magazine, who was so impressed by her style that she asked her to model for the magazine; she was later made an intern. When recounting the event, Sevigny was ambivalent about it, stating that "the woman at Sassy just liked the hat I was wearing". She later modeled in the magazine as well as for X-girl, the subsidiary fashion label of the Beastie Boys' "X-Large", designed by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, which then led to an appearance in the music video for Sonic Youth's "Sugar Kane". In 1993, at age 18, straight after her high-school graduation, Sevigny relocated from her Connecticut hometown to an apartment in Brooklyn. During that time, author Jay McInerney spotted her around New York City and wrote a seven-page article about her for The New Yorker in which he dubbed her the new "it girl" and referred to her as one of the "coolest girls in the world". She subsequently appeared on the album cover of Gigolo Aunts' 1994 recording Flippin' Out and the EP Full-On Bloom, as well as a Lemonheads music video which further increased her reputation in New York's early 1990s underground scene.