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“Did you see the couch she made?” he asks, referring to a tangerine-colored settee in Hannah’s living room. “She designed that. Or the sculptures [in her apartment]? That’s all her. She did all that, and she’s just doing it all. Putting us all to shame.”
Speaking to Hannah, it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer volume and variety of her interests, career or otherwise.
“I want to do an installation on my roof soon, a collaborative thing,” she muses of her now-dormant sculpting career, before she mentions a brief acting stint.
“I had a small role in ‘Grand Street’...one day I’ll show it to my grandkids to prove I used to be cool.”
The film’s writer-director, Lex Sidon, is eager to “talk about my girl Hannah.…She’s the cool older sister I always wanted and never had…that wise-beyond-her-years New York girl who can show you the ropes downtown but has a conscience.”
And then there are her DJ spots. She appears weekly at the Soho Grand Hotel and the Blind Barber in the East Village. “I’m not ‘an actress’ and I’m not ‘a DJ,’” Bronfman laughs, though now she is technically both. “I can set the tone of a party, I can bring my friends. I just play what I want to hear, and subsequently, other people want to hear that too. But I don’t run around saying that ‘I’m a DJ’ or that I really know what I’m doing.”
Matt Kliegman and Carlos Quirarte, wonder-duo behind cool-kid favorites the Jane Hotel, the Smile and the Westway, cast Bronfman in “Slanted & Enchanted,” a video they produced for Eddie Bauer’s fall 2011 presentation.
“Hannah used to DJ at the Jane,” Kliegman recalls. “Years ago. She had this great energy, and she’s beautiful and has this unique style. She’s got a great attitude. She’s ready to work, you know? She’s what I would call a ‘down girl’ in the best way. I mean, she doesn’t need to do all that she does, Green Owl and Global Thermostat and that. A lot of people in her situation wouldn’t. She’s got a good spirit.”
It goes without saying that Bronfman would not be running a record label if her father weren’t Warner Music’s ceo, but there is something other than birthright to what she calls her “business ethics.”
“My whole thing is I’m trying to set myself apart from people who just talk.” Bronfman says. “There’s a lot of girls who I grew up with who talk the talk but they’re not doing anything. They do nothing.” Reluctant to name names (apart from raising an eyebrow and suggesting “you know them, too.”), Bronfman pauses to fan her skirt out against the couch.
“I came from a family where if you say you’re going to do something then you do it, and you do it well,” she says. “There are so many people who say they are doing something but they have nothing to show for it. The time is now. So, what are you going to do? Multitask!”
When prodded about the social sphere that she orbits, Bronfman treads carefully.
“I grew up in New York, and my last name is my last name, my father is who he is,” she says. “When I was 16 and got kicked out of Spence for smoking pot, it was in the New York Post. That’s not news. But for whatever reason, it was.”
Despite evidence of a few well-hidden wild-child tendencies in her past (she has a tattoo under her hair on the right side of her scalp, “It’s a dragon with the body of a vine,” she laughs, “I know. So weird.”) Bronfman seems well-adjusted and infectiously happy. She cites regular boxing instruction as pivotal to maintaining her sanity.
The long-ago Spence expulsion carries particular comedic value considering the younger Bronfmans’ latest business venture.
“Art, technology and weed are going to save the world. That’s how I think about it,” she says without irony. “My brother Ben has this company called ACRI: American Cannabis Research Institute. Our family is in the medical marijuana game right now. My brother has a permit to cultivate organic weed in Oakland, and we are in the process of opening a dispensary with Cypress Hill. B-Real called me up and asked me to do it in my aesthetic.”
She laughs incredulously at the mention of the front man of the pot-loving Nineties rap group.
Post-expulsion, Bronfman’s parents sent her to Cottonwood Rehab facility in Tucson, Ariz., to dry out for a few months in 2003.
“Everyone hated me,” Bronfman shrugs. “All these girls who’d been smoking crack or God knows what for years were just like, ‘who is this rich, spoiled girl who smokes weed? What a loser she is. She has no problems.’”
When asked how her anti-marijuana parents are taking her next career move, Bronfman giggles.
“They’re totally on board,” she says. “Thanks, guys. Well, I mean, they’re not samplin’ the goods. They see it how it is, the next billion-dollar crop. It’s just funny, because our family started with Seagram’s during Prohibition. So we’re going round two right now. Same s--t, different day.”