Fashion Wunderkind Tavi Gevinson on Her Acting Debut in ‘Enough Said’
Tavi Gevinson is a trailblazer. At just 11 years of age, she started a fashion blog, Style Rookie, which racked up a million hits a month. By 13, she was rocking a plethora of outlandish outfits while seated front row at New York Fashion Week, and at 15, she founded Rookie Magazine, a site geared toward teenage girls.
And now the 17-year-old—whom none other than Lady Gaga once dubbed “the future of journalism”—has become the first fashion blogger to parlay her notoriety into an acting career.
Enough Said, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money), stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini as Eva and Albert, two sad-sack, divorced single parents who meet one night at a party, and soon fall for one another. But their budding romance is threatened when one of Eva’s massage clients turned pals, who is constantly badmouthing her ex-husband, turns out to be Albert’s former spouse. Gevinson plays Chloe, the best friend of Eva’s daughter, Ellen, who constantly hangs around her house soliciting motherly advice.
I’m surprised you’re here at TIFF, and not at New York Fashion Week.
I wouldn’t have gone anyways. I didn’t go last year because we launched the book then. It would be nice to go to shows, but I was coming here, and I have school. Plus, it happens twice a year.
Has covering fashion started to become a bit monotonous for you?
I wasn’t suddenly bored, because I think a lot of the possibilities in fashion feel infinite. Now I just want to be comfortable, but on days where I really enjoy getting dressed, it’s still very thrilling and fun. It was more that I was interested in a lot of different things, and I’m in high school, so you change all the time.
Did you have any acting experience prior to Enough Said?
I did a voiceover in a short called Cadaver, and then a short when I was 11 [First Bass]. I acted locally in Community Theater when I was in school, but acting is a very risky career choice, and you feel kind of powerless, so I wasn’t actively pursuing it. UTA approached me about a year-and-a-half ago and said, “We see that you have a lot of things you may want to express, and we want to give you the resources,” and then I got Nicole’s script and auditioned.
What was your first real acting experience like? This isn’t a very renegade, indie production but a pretty well-oiled machine.
It was like jumping right in. It is with a studio and everything so I’m not going to say it felt totally renegade, but Nicole runs a very relaxed, warm set, and Julia is wonderful. For me, the most foreign thing was that you’re around a lot of people and I’m used to writing behind a computer. I was nervous, but it ended up helping with Chloe who always feels a little uncomfortable, or like she’s intruding. And to see a person like Julia, who thinks it’s fun and gets it done—that wasn’t supposed to rhyme—made it feel a lot more relaxed. And finally on my last day I was like, “I got this!” but then I was done.
You share a great scene with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini at the breakfast table, where you quiz him on his TV knowledge. What was it like acting with Gandolfini?
It was really nerve-racking, but he’s just so normal and nice and funny. I was really nervous and I think he picked up on that a little and asked me questions about my life and gave me words of encouragement. He would say really funny stuff. There was a moment where we just had to get a shot of my fork, and he said, “Do I have to do anything?” and then he said, mimicking the crew, “You don’t do anything! I don’t see you lugging shit around!” He was just funny and self-deprecating, in that way. It sucks ... it’s sad.
Any more acting gigs in the pipeline?
I would like to do more acting, but I’m applying to colleges right now. College applications are stupid because you have to brag about yourself without making it seem like bragging. It’s a strange process that makes you feel a bit self-loathing.
Where are you looking at colleges? East coast?
It would be nice to be in New York so that Rookie can become more real in my life. I don’t want another four years of going to school and then working on my computer. I like Brown. I like Wesleyan. I’d be happy at Barnard. A lot of our writers and editors are in New York, and I’d just like to talk to them in person instead of video chat. We hired a new editor a few months ago, and looking through the applications I started crying because I realized, “Oh, people get it ... it has a life of its own. I can go off and have a different life, and it will be fine.” The passing of the torch is a nice thing to me, you know?
You started working at such a young age. Do you feel like you grew up too fast?
People are like, “Did you miss out on childhood?” My childhood lasted a little longer, because that was at an age where all of my friends were having “humping parties”—which is a thing when you’re 13—and I came home every day from school, got dressed up, and took pictures and edited them, and made mood boards and collages and checked out magazines. It felt very pure at the time.