In-demand Kiwi actor Stefania LaVie Owen stars alongside Snoop Dogg and Matthew McConaughey in the new stoner-comedy The Beach Bum, but can hardly believe she's landed in Hollywood.

The Miami-born 21-year-old fashionista was raised in Pauatahanui, just outside of Wellington, and has been described by Vogue as a "young starlet on the rise".

The down-to-earth youngster is in high demand and will also appear in Messiah, a biblical suspense thriller produced by Netflix, later this year.

"Coming from New Zealand, I never had the idea that I would be an actor or that it would be a job," Owen said in an interview with the New York Times.

"It was just something that I thought was really fun."


A former student at the Chilton Saint James private all-girls school in Lower Hutt, success came her way after making her professional film debut as an 11-year-old in Peter Jackson's 2009 drama The Lovely Bones.

"It was a small part, but because it was an American film, it opened up this whole world to me," she said. "Everything just started spiralling from there."

Working alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood in the Harmony Korine-directed film The Beach Bum had been a new and unique experience.

"I've never worked with anyone like Harmony," explained Owen.

"He allowed us the flexibility to use the script as a base and then jump from there. It was a little scary, but it was also really freeing."

Her busy acting career saw her delay plans to attend college but she hopes to enrol at the Gallatin School of Individulized Study at New York University later this year.

Shooting for Messiah throughout Mexico gave her a taste of what to expect from campus life.

"On our days off, there would be these big thunderstorms, so we would have to close down set and play games in a local church," she said.