Tavi Gevinson

Tavi Gevinson was an American writer, editor, and actress who typified a very millennial sort of success story: fashion blogger when she was 12, media mogul by 15, accomplished actress of the stage and screen at 22. Along the way, Gevinson provided a voice and a platform for teenage girls all across the world, and taught the culture at large that young women should be taken seriously. Born on April 21, 1996 in Chicago, IL, Gevinson was raised in a secular Jewish family in the suburb of Oak Park. Her father Steve was a retired High School English teacher, while her mother, Berit Engen, was a weaver and part-time Hebrew instructor from Norway. Gevinson also had two elder sisters, Rivkah and Miriam. In 2008, shortly before her twelfth birthday, Gevinson founded her first blog, Style Rookie. The site mostly showed off Gevinson's quirky, idiosyncratic sartorial choices and offered critiques of the latest fashion trends. Before long, Style Rookie began drawing around 30,000 visitors a day. Gevinson was invited to attend Fashion Week in New York and Paris, Pop magazine paid for her to go shopping in Tokyo and Antwerp, she wrote articles for Harper's Bazaar and Barneys.com, and modeled for Rodarte. Most of the fashion world was taken with the young lady's preternatural poise and overall precociousness, but before long an anti-Gevinson backlash began brewing. Anne Slowey of Elle magazine slammed her success as "gimmicky," Sarah Mower of The Daily Telegraph chastised her father for taking her out of school "to go to haute couture shows," while New York magazine went even further, questioning whether Gevinson wasn't a total fraud whose blog was being written with "some help from a mom or older sister." Nevertheless, as she became a teenager, Gevinson continued to hone her voice and explore her passions, and soon realized that, not only was she over her outlandish fashion choices, she was over writing about fashion in general. So, in the fall of 2011, she founded Rookie magazine. The website cast a much larger editorial berth, looking at issues that impacted teenage girls, with articles written almost entirely by teenage girls. Gevinson also attracted some high profile figures into the Rookie orbit: Ira Glass of This American Life acted as a personal mentor in the early days of the website, and many celebrities took part in the popular ongoing video series "Ask a Grown Man," including actors and comedians such as Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Stephen Colbert, along with musical acts like Radiohead, Vampire Weekend, and Run the Jewels. Gevinson was in high demand: in 2012 alone, she spoke at TEDxTeen, the Economist's World in 2012 festival, and celebrated her second year in a row appearing on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media list. That same year, Gevinson began acting, making her film debut with a small supporting role in Nicole Holofcener's romantic comedy "Enough Said" (2013), alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, and Catherine Keener. She then moved to the stage, co-starring with Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin in the Broadway debut of Kenneth Lonergan's classic play "This Is Our Youth" (2014-15). Following that production, Gevinson played Mary Warren in Ivo van Hove's take on "The Crucible" (2016) at the Walter Kerr Theatre, then took the role of Anya in a production of Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" (2016) at the American Airlines Theatre. In 2017, Gevinson co-starred in the picaresque indie comedy "Person to Person" (2017), and voiced Helena St. Tessero on the anime series "Neo Yokio" (Netflix, 2017-), created by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig. However, 2018 would mark the end of an era: on November 30, Gevinson announced that Rookie magazine was shutting down via a six-page editor's note, explaining that "because digital media has become an increasingly difficult business Rookie in its current form is no longer sustainable." Her final message to readers: "Thank you for growing up with us."