United Talent Agency, which reps Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford, and Gwyneth Paltrow, among others, surprised the entertainment world this July when it announced that Tavi Gevinson, the 16-year-old Oak Park fashion blogger turned online magazine editor, had been cast in an as-yet-untitled movie directed by Nicole Holofcener (Friends with Money, Lovely and Amazing) and starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The role will be just another line on an already precocious resumé. While most of her Oak Park and River Forest High School classmates spent their summer vacation at camp or learning to drive, Gevinson went on a coast-to-coast road trip to promote her online magazine, Rookie, and her new book, Rookie Yearbook One, a collection of articles, musings, photographs, and illustrations from the magazine’s first year. At presstime, the book’s Chicago launch was scheduled for September 20 at Unity Temple in Oak Park with the Book Table, a local independent bookstore.
Before she left, Gevinson sat down with Chicago over breakfast in a Forest Park coffee shop. She explained that acting was something she had always hoped to explore; she was even considering taking a gap year in Los Angeles between high school and college. Clad in a yellow band shirt (Seattle hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction), blue shorts, and black patent leather penny loafers, the rising high-school junior admitted she has doubts about the icon she’s become.
“It’s a little terrifying that this kind of influential voice is in the hands of someone who is still changing and finding her own [voice],” she said. “But . . . that is something you just come to terms with if you want to put yourself out there in any way.”
Illustration: Sean McCabe; Photography: (Tavi with Lagerfeld) Eric Ryan/Getty Images; (Tavi with floral headpiece) Solimene Photography/Getty Images
For more photos of Tavi’s style evolution, check out her look book »
She’s been putting herself out there for years now, ever since she started the offbeat fashion blog Style Rookie from her bedroom in 2008. Her observations were honest, funny, and deftly written, and the blog quickly caught the attention of Harper’s Bazaar, which made her a contributor. Traveling with her father, she jetted from Chicago to the front row of fashion shows in New York and Europe. But in the midst of the Tavi-mania, a growing fascination with a new set of subjects—outsider art, feminism, gender identity, and media—eclipsed her interest in fashion. Thus, Rookie.
In September 2011, Rookie hit more than a million page views within six days of its launch. Content ranges from discussions of Joan Didion’s writing to sex and relationship questions answered by the likes of actors Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm. There are tutorials on how to wear red lipstick and how to look like you weren’t just crying in less than five minutes. Fashion stories feature models of various shapes and sizes wearing everything from haute couture to vintage Wrangler jean jackets.
While managing a staff that includes editors more than twice her age, Gevinson has also found time to dabble in music. She recorded her first song, a cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” for the animated short Cadaver, which debuted in January of this year. She occasionally uploads videos to YouTube, like her cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” dedicated to The Office’s Mindy Kaling (she’s a fan). And in her free time, she sings and plays guitar in a rock band with friends.
With her passions seeming to change by the hour, Gevinson is still unsure where she’ll end up.
“Right now I think I’ll probably want to make movies when I grow up—writing, acting,” she said as she devoured a Belgian waffle with berries and whipped cream.
One thing she is sure of: It’s time to move on from her style roots. “I feel like the golden era of fashion blogging is over.”
Photography: Paul Morigi/WireImage; WWD/Conde Nast/Corbis; Craig Barritt/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/WireImage; patrickmcmullan.com via AP Image