Big Little Lies star Laura Dern and musician Ben Harper first got together in the early ’00s and were married for five years before they divorced in 2013. Though the relationship ended, they still share two children together, both of whom are now teenagers. Their son Ellery Harper is 19, and their daughter, Jaya Harper is 16. And the Harper kids are both pursuing creative careers, just like their parents. To see what Laura Dern and Ben Harper’s kids are up to now and to hear more about their family, read on.
At the age of 17, Ellery made his runway debut at New York Fashion Week 2018, modeling clothing by Calvin Klein designer Raf Simons. Ellery told Women’s Wear Daily that Simons had also invited him to walk in a show earlier that year, but dad Ben Harper insisted that he wait. When Ellery did finally walk his first runway, Dern was cheering him on from the front row.
Ellery has done print modeling as well. This past March, he appeared on the cover of ODDA, a fashion and culture magazine based in New York City. Seven other artists also appeared on different covers for the Spring/Summer 2021 issue, including actor Andie MacDowell.
“Ellery has been exploring his different aesthetic tastes across multiple creative fields, building strong relationships with a number of different fashion designers and discovering what truly matters to him as an artist,” the caption reads.
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Jaya made her film acting debut starring in the drama Teenage Emotions, which was screened as part of the Slamdance Film Festival this past February. And in October 2020, Jaya was on the cover of Our Era magazine, a youth-led publication that focuses on topics including fashion, social justice, and mental health.
Jaya is also the focus of a video that was shared on Our Era‘s Instagram account in conjunction with the cover story, in which discusses the issues that she’s most passionate about. These include voting the importance of voting, even though she’s not old enough to do it yet. “I’d say number one [passion], trying to help the world get in a better spot than we are,” Jaya says in the video.
Attending the 2018 Golden Globe Awards with her mom, Jaya also showed her support for the #MeToo movement, which encourages people to speak out against misconduct and harassment.
“I want my generation to not have to say #MeToo,” Jaya told The New York Times on the red carpet. She also said that she was working with Everytown for Gun Safety, which is a nonprofit organization that fights against gun violence.
While speaking to Refinery29 with Jaya in May 2017, Dern expressed how much her daughter has inspired her. She also noted that when Jaya has her iphone on her, she’s essentially “holding a revolution in her hands.”
“but it’s also a place where they’re sharing, literally, everything and connecting to people around the world,” the Jurassic Park star said. “So she’s teaching me in a really profound way, by modeling: ‘You don’t wait for the country to change; you start the revolution right here.'”
Dern also explained that, during the 2016 Presidential campaign and election, she saw the way that Jaya and her friends were wanting to “become involved.”
“It is oddly a very exciting time, as a mother, to watch a generation of girls feel empowered in a way that we weren’t even,” she said.
“On the hard days, it’s stressful and there is too much going on as a single parent—and it can be hard to carve out a minute for yourself,” Dern explained in an August 2019 interview with Boston Common.
However, the Marriage Story actor also noted that she isn’t ashamed of her situation, nor does she feel like she’s being judged because of it.
Dern has said that, as a mother, she’s constantly focused on being open and honest with Ellery and Jaya.
“The more I learn about my mistakes as a mother, the deeper I enjoy how fully I love my children,” she told InStyle in May 2019. “Because I can let them know I really screw up sometimes. I hide from blame in a lot of areas in my life, but I’m trying not to do that as a mom.”