Tavi Gevinson: 'I'm Not A Fearless Person By Any Means'
If you’re looking for a living embodiment of that old adage “age is but a number” you’ll find it in Tavi Gevinson.
She established her own gloriously eclectic fashion blog, Style Rookie, at 11-years-old and Rookie magazine a mere four years later because she couldn’t see another magazine that “respected [teenage girls’] intelligence.”
Then there are the countless invitations to couture shows, articles penned for US Harper’s BAZAAR, and appearances on everything from TEDx to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Now an international ambassador for Clinique alongside the likes of Margaret Zhang and Hannah Bronfman, Tavi’s reach is about to get even broader.
We caught up with the teenage tastemaker to talk expectations, Broadway, and feeling like rookie, but doing it anyway.
Tell us, were there any times when you first launched Rookie that you felt like you needed to pretend to be older than you were to get taken seriously?
Thankfully the only people who would want to work for Rookie are people who already respect teenagers and what they have to say, and the readers are teenagers themselves! When you’re not trying to create something to impress the wrong people but to connect with the right ones, you don’t have to pretend.
You’ve had incredible people write for Rookie. What would be your practical tips for others who are trying to reach out to people they admire to be part of a project?
Be succinct and respectful of their time, but show what makes your project different from anything they’d normally be asked to do to promote their work more formally.
How important is it to you for Rookie to exist in an age where women are finally taking back the word ‘feminism’?
Growing up I felt like there wasn’t a magazine for teenage girls that respected our intelligence. I am a feminist and many of our contributors and readers are. We don’t call it a feminist website because it’s not about the movement specifically, but it obviously organically informs our lens, and I hope we can continue to destigmatise the word.
You were a prodigy of the blogosphere and have since been dubbed a “voice of a generation”. Can you share with us any struggles you’ve had about living up to other people’s expectations?
Thankfully people who have voiced appreciation for my work, from my blog to Rookie to my other writing, seem very content to watch me change and do what I want, so I don’t feel a lot of pressure.
With the editorship of your own teen magazine under your belt, last year saw you branch into acting on Broadway. In what ways did this new direction challenge you?
What’s thrilling about acting, especially on stage like that for months and repeating it every night, [is] you end up learning to really have the focus, the energy, to be really present every night. I would struggle and I remember talking to our playwright saying, “How do we keep it fresh? It’s the same thing every night.” And he just said, “No, you’ve never done the show on January 3, 2015 before.”
It was an amazing exercise in just learning how to be a human and be present, and accept life, since you can’t dwell on any mistakes and you have to be there for the other actors.
On snaffling you for their latest campaign, Clinique said they were inspired by you forging your own path. How do you overcome fear?
I’m not a fearless person by any means, but I always find that the fear of holding myself back always outweighs the fear of what could happen by doing something.
Why did you choose to align with this particular brand?
It just made sense since I already used the products. I was on a photoshoot a couple of years ago and the makeup artist said “You need this!” in reference to the yellow lotion, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+. Then I learned it’s sort of iconic, and it’s now a staple in my morning routine.
Favourite place to escape to?
My living room, in front of my TV.
Book on the nightstand?
Speedboat by Renata Adler.
Best piece of advice you ever received?
You can’t please everyone.
Words: Michelle Ham