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Gabrielle DeCaro Appears in Taylor Swift Music Video

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Taylor Swift directs Gabrielle DeCaro (left) on the set of her new music video, Anti-Hero. Photo via Taylor Swift on Instagram

Pop star Taylor Swift is known for hiding secret messages in her music videos that only Swifties can decipher. But there’s an easter egg within Swift’s Anti-Hero music video that the U‑M community might appreciate: the appearance of Gabrielle DeCaro (Interarts Performance BFA 16).

The high-profile project is one of multiple professional appearances DeCaro has been involved in since graduating from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD). DeCaro has appeared in national campaigns for brands like California Pizza Kitchen, Vice Media, Vans, Snickers (in their 2020 Super Bowl spot) and more. 

DeCaro says that the Anti-Hero music video was an opportunity to learn from Swift’s impressive” directing style. 

You can spot Gabrielle DeCaro starting at 1:13.

I felt like I learned so much about directing just from watching Taylor Swift, because she not only stars in her own videos, but she writes the music and directs everything so beautifully,” DeCaro said. It sets a standard for me if I ever direct something of that level.” 

Like Swift, DeCaro often tackles many roles in her work. Her dual degree with both the Stamps School and SMTD allows her to grow in multiple areas in her craft. 

At U‑M, I was able to get such an interdisciplinary approach,” DeCaro said. It allowed me to explore different areas. I now think about the definition of design as something loosely interpreted. Design can be functional in many films and projects. Stamps, and the Interarts Performance program, shaped the way that I view that.”

Screen capture of DeCaro in the "Anti-Hero" video with the lyric "Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby."
DeCaro’s scene in the Anti-Hero music video. Photo via Gabrielle DeCaro

While DeCaro is predominantly an actress, the art and design side of her education is evident when she’s on set. 

What I’ve learned from art school is to always be open to creative problem solving. Those things are so crucial to the work that we do here. Making videos is making art because it’s very collaborative, and Stamps nurtured that part in me,” DeCaro said. And when I’m on set for any job, I’m always so drawn to the art department. I’m always wanting to know what they’re doing. Stamps helped me to embrace that collaborative spirit.”

DeCaro was also involved in collaborative projects at Stamps. For her senior thesis, she produced a 17-minute variety show film screened at the Michigan Theater. DeCaro is also involved in writing and directing episodic comedies and shorts. She recently co-directed an advertising campaign for Mother Design–her first editorial project. 

Gabrielle DeCaro appears on a billboard holding a piece of pizza with an imaginary bomb erupting at the top of her head. The text reads: This Could Happen to You on Ventura, west of Laurel Canyon.
DeCaro appeared on a billboard as part of California Pizza Kitchen’s campaign.

DeCaro, whose face has been on billboards, Super Bowl campaigns, and now the Anti-Hero music video (which has 44 million views on YouTube to date) is thankful to be a part of projects with a global reach. 

It’s such a cool feeling to be a part of something that reaches that many people and makes them feel something. And even though I had a small role, it is such an honor to be a part of things that are a part of pop culture,” DeCaro said. It’s hard to even fathom, but that’s just the magic of it all.” 

To learn more about Gabrielle DeCaro at her work, visit her portfolio at gabriellede​caro​.com.

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DeCaro photographed by David López Osuna.

Story by Katelyn Stuck.