Tavi Gevinson on Ending Rookie Yearbook and Starting Anew

Our fave teen Tavi launches her senior yearbook and chats with us about everything from growing up to the Bieb's dick pic.

tavi gevinson interview rookie yearbook

Tavi in Toronto (Photo: Norman Wong)

Tavi Gevinson’s website Rookie (an ode to her very first blog, Style Rookie), is a haven for teenagers who want to know all the things about life, from asking grown men like Stephen Colbert and Terry Crews what they think about crushes and feuding friends, to how to write a college application essay. To commemorate the publication of Rookie Yearbook Four, which is the last installment of the books that compile some of Gevinson’s favourite material from the site, we sat down with her to talk about the celeb contributors, her limitless future, and what’s next for Rookie.

This is your last Yearbook. Did you always plan to stop at four?
I know I decided that early on just because it made sense. One yearbook for each year of high school. And I was anticipating the need to have more room and flexibility in the way that Rookie is structured. We redesigned the site and we want to do different books as well, but it feels nice to have this package with a kind of legacy that feel like these incredibly elaborate, detailed, personal collections.

The book is a real reflection of the messiness of teenage girlhood, but it also resonates with people like me who are sort of past that. Did you set out to make it universal?
No, not at all. I think being a person is messy, though. But I created Rookie because I read a lot of websites that I thought were cool and interesting but they weren’t for teens, and I wanted us to have something that could be ours. I’m glad that it resonates with adults as well because it’s not like you pass through a doorway and you know everything and you don’t have any problems. My anxiety has gotten worse as I’ve graduated and gotten older, and I still feel like Rookie is a place where I can talk about that and hopefully someone relates to it.

tavi gevinson interview rookie yearbook

Rookie Yearbook Four, $24, Penguin Random House

What was the most exciting part of producing this Yearbook?
It’s very personal for me. I started it from the desk under my loft bed. I didn’t understand that people have publicists or only do interviews during a certain time, so I would just DM someone and be like do you want to do an interview? And they would be like, this is work, talk to my publicist. Some people were like that, most people were not, and they would take two hours to talk to me even though they had nothing to promote, just because they’re an artist I admired and who our readers looked up to.

Who were some of the people who didn’t make you go through their publicists?
Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Lena Dunham, Joss Whedon, Solange, Willow Smith. But it’s also not bad to do that. I just had no clue that that was how it worked. I was like no, we’re all just artists! I didn’t get that it’s a job.

What is next for Rookie?
We have been conceptualizing another type of print series, but I can’t go in to too much detail. And our readers have been asking for an app for a really long time. We have a small team and we just hired our sixth editor, and I hope that that something like an app or an easier way for readers to find each other can happen soon.

tavi gevinson rookie yearbook

(Photo: Norman Wong)

How often do you think about your future? Do you ever think about what you’re going to be like when you’re 40?
No. Every time someone suggested it I totally recoil and I’m like, just live in the moment! I only think about when I’m older when I’m considering how I want to manage regret and how I’d like to look back on my life, but that has to do more with personal decisions. Although for me a lot of work stuff is a personal decision. My goal this year has been a lot about getting Rookie to a place where I’m still overseeing everything and the editors know my point of view, but there’s more room for other people’s points of view and I have more room to do other things I feel compelled to.

How has your relationship with fashion evolved since seven years ago…when you were 12?
Now (New York) fashion week for me means that I leave the office at noon and see a show and maybe go to the party that night…the show would be Rodarte and I’ve known those designers since I was 12. Or Creatures of the Wind, and I’ve known Chris and Shane since I was 12. I’m not obligated to do anything, but I like that I can tailor it to what I feel like seeing. And it’s nice that I can drop in on these worlds but not live in them. I still care a lot about my personal style, and since moving to New York and having a little more control over my own money, I’ve been able to make my 12-year-old fashion nerd dream comes true.

How so?
I really like looking at what’s new in my favourite designers’ stores even if I don’t buy anything. It’s so crazy that I can just stop by and look at them in real life when there was a time when I was younger and I found a scarf in my mom’s closet that had the YSL logo and, there’s some weird engrained stuff going on here, but I was like, I can’t believe we’re allowed to have this scarf in our house. It’s a little f*cked up. That’s what fashion is, though, in many ways. Wanting to feel a part of something you’re shut out of.

tavi gevinson rookie yearbook

(Photo: Norman Wong)

It doesn’t seem like you’ve messed up in the public eye. Did you ever have a rebellious phase?
I don’t know what I would be rebelling against! I get to do what I want. I mean, I have bouts of self-loathing like any other person. When I interviewed Taylor Swift (for the June issue of Elle), I asked her about that. Granted, she is in a very different situation than I am, but she said, I have no desire to burn down the house that I built. I can redecorate, but the foundation is there. That is one thing that’s hard about making oneself so vulnerable in one’s work. I have to remind myself often that it’s work, even if it’s self-expression, it’s work, and that there’s no reason why my having a bad day should mean that I have to suddenly disown everything I’ve worked really hard on.

What are you listening to right now?
Cocteau Twins, they’re having a real moment. And I’ve been keeping up with the new seasons of Bob’s Burgers and Scream Queens. But I can’t binge watch those. I know that one day I’ll go back through Big Love, when I’m bed-ridden. Bu that’s like a huge chunk of life.

And aren’t you going to be on Scream Queens?
Yeah, I’m in next week’s episode. I play a student in flashbacks who had an affair with Jamie Lee Curtis’s (Dean Munsch on the show) professor husband. They did a Mia Farrow thing with my costumes which I was super into. And the episode is called “Beware of Young Girls,” which is the title of a Dory Previn song about Mia Farrow, about how she stole André Previn. The show is so funny. It’s totally everything I love and it touches on all of my favourite horror movies.

Following Justin Bieber’s dick pic incident, and all the talk of how Canada now has a super hot prime minister, what do you think about male objectification?
It sucks, it’s stupid. I mean, in a joking way, I’m like, good! Its about time! Progress. But I don’t actually feel that way. But that’s the world we live in, appearance matters. It takes precedent a lot of the time.

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