Tavi Gevinson is not your typical 19-year-old.
She’s edited four books, starred in a Broadway show, and leads a staff of 80 at Rookie, an online magazine she founded for teen girls. Recently, she made her Broadway debut and starred in an episode of Fox’s new show, “Scream Queens.”
And yet to her, age just isn’t a big deal.
“In my life, age does not apply at all. I feel 19 in that I’ve been alive for 19 years, and what’s happened in them happened to me,” she recently told Business Insider. “A lot of those on-paper qualities just don’t apply to creative industries, where people are crazy in their own ways.”
The writer, editor, and actor recently posed for Annie Leibovitz and the Pirelli calendar, a historically NSFW production that is changing direction this year.
For the first time, the calendar focused on photographing strong, successful women instead of models in the nude. Amy Schumer, Patti Smith, Fran Lebowitz, Serena Williams, and Yoko Ono are just a few of the other women who posed for the calendar.
We got the chance to sit down with Tavi, who told us a bit about what she’s up to now.
Tavi started her blog, Style Rookie, when she was just 11 years old. It quickly became a must-read in the fashion community. By 2010, when she was 14, she was interviewing people backstage at New York Fashion Week.
Tavi has been considered a taste-maker for years. Here, she chats with Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and Barneys CEO Mark Lee in September 2010.
'I understand that it's unorthodox, but I'm really glad that I finished high school and that I had these amazing experiences, like going to Fashion Week and interviewing people, but that I had to go home and go to school the next day,' she said. 'I think my parents kept me from any extreme ego trip that could come from that, hopefully.'
When she was 15, she started Rookie, an online magazine and book series for teens. She told us, 'I remember when I first started Rookie, my dad was like, 'How are you going to do this? You're in school all day.' And I was like, 'So is everyone else who's reading it.' So I'll come home from school and three posts will go up -- one after school, one around dinnertime, and one at bedtime.' She's seen here sitting in the front row at Rodarte's Fall 2012 show.
'In my life, age does not apply at all,' she said. 'I feel 19 in that I've been alive for 19 years, and what's happened in them happened to me. So to me, it's not crazy.'
Tavi recently posed for the iconic Pirelli calendar, which for the first time showed clothed women who have found success in a number of different fields. The calendar is historically NSFW (models have been photographed nude in the past), but went in a completely different direction for 2016. 'It's so iconic, and I've always loved it, but I still felt that the new direction was a really good choice,' she said.
This was the second time she had been shot by Annie Leibovitz. '(The first time) I was in a tree in our backyard, wearing a pink velvet dress I had originally bought for prom, and I had longer hair,' she said. 'I like the contrast between that and the photo she took for this, where she let me be a little more serious.'
Amy Schumer, Patti Smith, Fran Lebowitz, Serena Williams, and Yoko Ono were just a few of the other successful women Leibovitz shot for the Pirelli calendar. 'I was really thrilled to be among so many women I admire,' Tavi said.
These days, though Tavi does still write about fashion and style (she's seen here with Jenna Bush Hagar and Barbara Pierce Bush in the front row at Prabal Gurung's Spring 2016 show) she's pursuing other passions. Rookie Mag now focuses less on designers and more on the topics that matter to young women -- love, feminism, pop culture, happiness, and identity, all told through fun, playful illustrations and essays.
She's branched out into acting, too. Last year, Tavi starred alongside Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin in 'This is Our Youth' on Broadway. Her next play is 'The Crucible,' which premieres in January. Her film credits include roles alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini, and she starred in an episode of Fox's new show, 'Scream Queens.'
Originally from a Chicago suburb, Tavi recently moved into her own place in New York City's West Village. 'Now every night I go to a screening, or a lecture, or a talk, or a museum -- there's so much,' she said. 'And I write about it all. I really try to synthesise it. I feel like I'm still learning all the time.' She leads a staff of 80 at Rookie's headquarters in Brooklyn.
In 2012, Tavi published 'Rookie Yearbook One,' a collection of articles, interviews, photo essays, and illustrations created by the Rookie community. It has since been translated into multiple other languages, including Japanese.
Rookie Yearbook Four, the fourth full collection edited by Tavi, came out in October. She told us she's amazed by how far Rookie has come. 'Four years is a long time when the ages are 15 to 19. I've changed a lot,' she said. '(Rookie is) very much a product of a community of amazing writers and artists, and people who have allowed themselves to be very vulnerable, and that just means the world to me, and I hope that means the world to our readers as well.'
Tavi has more than 396,000 followers on Instagram, a platform that didn't even exist when she first started her style blog. 'I like using Instagram because it allows me to share my world in a slightly more minute way than I did on my blog, when I was just taking photos of my outfits and writing about stuff that I liked,' she said. 'When we have a book event, it's great because everything becomes even more real. And that's very touching -- girls will come up to me and say, 'I wrote a comment once, and you responded.''
'I follow a lot of Rookie readers and I just go, 'You're so cool! I wish we could've been friends in high school,'' she said. 'They're so talented, and so funny. It's very heartening. I felt very alienated in middle school and high school, just in the ways we all are.'
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