This Broadway Phenom Is Taking Hollywood By Storm

With gamine-meets-girly style and a fresh face, we expected 19-year-old Sami Gayle to be like the lovable girl next door: sweet as pie. And, she is. But, her deliberate, thoughtful insights reveal an intellect and a depth that made us even more excited to get to know this ingénue. Not to mention, she’s got a pretty impressive résumé.
A dancer practically since she could walk, Gayle moved to New York when she was 11 years old to study at Steps on Broadway (a professional dance school on the Upper West Side). Just one Broadway audition later, she was starring in Gypsy with Patti LuPone. Since her first “big break,” Sami has starred in indie films like Hateship Loveship and big-ticket flicks like Vampire Academy, and she's scored a series regular role as Nicky Reagan-Boyle on Blue Bloods.
So, between shooting and classes (she just started college), we snagged the starlet for a tour of NYC on a sunny Saturday and snapped her in some of her favorite designers, courtesy of Neiman Marcus. Ahead, we spill the scoop on the best career advice she’s ever received (the sage minds of Adrien Brody and Tom Selleck make appearances), why she'll never stop performing, and when she developed that fierce sense of style.
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Between filming Blue Bloods and doing press, your schedule must be packed. Why did you choose to start school now?
"I don't want to do anything besides act, but I DO want to be a really well-rounded person. I've already done two summer sessions — I just finished my second one yesterday! So, I'm ahead of the game now if I need to take a lighter course-load for work. Mark Feuerstein [from Royal Pains], who has been an amazing mentor, inspires me. He's a successful actor, but he went to Princeton. He's a polyglot, and he's brilliant."

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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
When did you fall in love with performing?
"I went all over the country for dance competitions growing up, and I would leave before the awards part of the competition. I just wanted to be onstage. But, when you watch an audience respond to your [acting] when you're portraying a message about the human condition, you know you're affecting people. No matter what's happening in your life, you can step into someone else's shoes, assume their character and emotions, and just empty yourself."


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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Hollywood fairy tales are pretty rare, but your story IS one. What was your big break?
"My teacher at Steps on Broadway offered me a role in a Broadway show. Her husband was the choreographer. I had to turn it down because my brother was being bar mitzvahed. But, he started looking for auditions for me and found Gypsy. I auditioned with thousands of people and eventually got the part. I've been acting — with my brother as my manager — ever since."


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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Has your style changed at all since your acting career took off?
"I've always loved playing dress-up. When I was 3 years old, I would dress myself, insisting, 'I'm gonna pick my outfit!' I wish I could get some of the clothes I had as a child and turn them into adult clothes. I was probably more stylish then than I am now. But, no matter what I wear, the bottom line for me is that I'll never wear anything my grandma would not approve of."

Like the outfit you've got on here?
"Yup! I remember seeing that sweater in the store and thinking, That color makes me smile. The skirt's Victoria Beckham, and it reminds me of a jumper. I love a good jumper." Advertisement
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Now that you're all grown up, who are some of your favorite designers?
"I love Nanette Lepore and Rebecca Taylor, and I work with an amazing stylist, Robert Verdi. I had no idea who he was until I met him at Rebecca Minkoff, the first show I ever went to. Now, we're great friends, and he has had a huge impact on my style."

Since you can't get decked out all the time, what's your off-duty style like?
"I have a terrible love of shopping. I love going super-casual, but a more sophisticated outfit, like this one, I would wear pretty much anywhere — to lunch, to a meeting, out to dinner." Advertisement
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Okay, what's happening in this picture? You've never met this dog before, right?
"[Laughs.] No! We were there with my dog, Licorice, who's this funny little puppy. And, this big St. Bernard just ran up to me and almost knocked me over. He probably weighs more than I do. So, I started petting him, and at the end, he just drooled all over me."

Seems like you make friends easily. Have you gotten any memorable advice from your Blue Bloods costar Tom Selleck?
"He's taken me under his wing, introducing me to films like The Last Picture Show and The 400 Blows. He gave me a CD of Aaron Copland conducting Appalachian Spring. At one point, you hear him tell the orchestra, 'If the music is good enough, you don't have to help it.' I knew that's what Tom wanted me to hear. If the script is rich enough, you don't have to over-act." Advertisement
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
What about Adrien Brody?
"I worked with him on my first movie, Detachment. Adrien used to tell me, 'It has to be you and me against the world. The director, the camera, everybody has to fall away, and you just have to be with the person in front of you.' Those are the two things I live by when I'm acting."

We heard Bridget Moynahan introduced you to Louboutins on set. That sounds like some solid mentoring to us.
"I had no idea what Louboutins were, and I kept seeing Bridget walk around in these shoes with red soles. When I finally asked her about them, it was like a whole new world opened up."

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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Have you since become a high-heel convert?
"I definitely love shoes, but I'm more of a bag girl. The first nice purchase I ever made was a Miu Miu bag I got when I was in Italy. I feel like that brand represents who I am as a person. Young, fun, sophisticated at times, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. I still cherish that bag. If my bag is interesting, I could be wearing anything and look put-together. I don't think you need to be head-to-toe glam. It's about having that one piece."

What are some other special pieces that you regularly turn to?
"I have a horseshoe necklace from Tibi I wear all the time. I think it's lucky! I came into this business with no experience and I feel like [the necklace] has some sort of relevance." Advertisement
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Did you just find that poster for The Last Picture Show by chance?
"Yes! I was just standing right next to it during the shot, and when I noticed it, I had to buy it for my brother. That was one of the movies Tom Selleck introduced me to, but I had never seen it on the big screen until recently. My brother flew in from Greece, where he was interning, because they were screening it at MoMA. We saw it together. That was one of the best cinematic experiences of my life." Advertisement
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
A movie screening at MoMA is definitely a New York experience. We also spotted you at an Alice + Olivia presentation a few years ago, also very "New York." We take it you're a fan?
"Stacey Bendet [of Alice + Olivia] is so intelligent. She went to UPenn. And, I love wearing the clothing of people I really admire. She’s so effervescent and talented. I love all of her clothing, like this sweater. Her pieces have so much personality." Advertisement
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
Aside from soaking up all the fashion NYC has to offer, what are some other things you love to do in the city?
"Some people don't know there's rowing in Central Park. I go all the time with my dad. And, there's a store called Spring Yarn on the UES that I'm obsessed with. I go more during the winter, but I think knitting is the most relaxing thing ever."

It's also hard to live in NYC and not be a total foodie. Do you have any special spots?
"For restaurants, I love Blue Dog Cafe in Chelsea and Alice's Tea Cup on the UWS. It's such a sweet little place, and I can get my brother to go there because they have amazing French toast." Advertisement
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Photographed by Jens Invgarsson.
So, has NYC won you over for the long haul?
"I will absolutely stay in New York. I love going around the world to do film, but I want to be rooted. I don't want to live anywhere else. And, I see myself acting for the rest of my life."

How do you see your career evolving over the next decade?
"I really want to make movies reminiscent of Splendor in the Grass or Roman Holiday. I want to shoot in black-and-white with film. It adds to the weight of the movie; it's warmer somehow. The movies being made now are amazing, but I want to go back to something a little simpler. This goes back to Tom's point: When the script knows itself, you don't have to fix it. There's no genre. There's a deeper meaning." Advertisement