Lily Collins, Bright Night Of The Soul
Bright Night Of The Soul is how I’d characterize my lasting impression of Lily Collins. Sitting down for a conversation with an actress comes with a few days of preparation. There’s scheduling, there’s research to be done, and for me, it ends with the magic of somehow, after perusing countless interviews, and archived stories, of trying to pinpoint who my subject truly is outside of their big and small screen counterparts. The truth is, the celebrity interview is one of infinite outcomes. None of them lend themselves to predictability. Will they be reserved? Will she be giving? Who is she, really?
The days leading up to my chat with Lily Collins felt very much like those of my past assignments, but the days that followed after would be entirely…contrasting to say the least. Lily can be seen playing the sunny Emily Cooper in Netflix’s latest gift Emily in Paris. Timing is everything, and it is essential to the arrival of this new series that embodies escapism and “feel good” in its truest form. For Collins, it’s a story of self-love, empowerment, and peeling off the layers that reveal your truest self. For audiences, it’s a chance to escape the harsh realities that seem to multiply since the world upped and changed just a few months into the decade. Lily is poised, intelligent, sensible, and brimming with mindfulness. No research in the world would have prepared me for the experience that was to follow after I picked up the phone for this scheduled call–that felt like the gathering of two would-be-friends. As I said, an interview like this is meant to shed light on the sensibilities and qualities often in hiding when an actor is in full character. In this case, a portrait of an artist as a young woman. The result was immeasurably so much more.
Hi. I want to start by saying congratulations on your engagement. So exciting!
Oh my God, thank you. That’s so sweet of you.
Give me a mental picture of how you’re feeling right now. What’s on your mind?
Gosh, I feel… very in the moment. I feel very lucky, very happy to be his fiancé. I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be. Very much living in this moment. Like, all is right.
Blissful… okay. So, it was very exciting for me to learn that Emily in Paris was produced by Darren Star. I know a handful of women now that swear by Sex & the City, Decades later. Do you identify with the series at all?
I think I identify with Darren’s work. He really knows how to create a world that you immerse yourself in right away. There’s a wish-fulfillment to his shows, and there’s a travel element to the shows. And there’s a feeling of, like, disappearing for a little bit in his shows that I just love. And they’re so binge-able. They’re so fun. They’re funny, you know, they make you smile and they make you laugh. For me those elements, they’re very much a part of the character. Like, Carrie Bradshaw was as so many young women and even men can say, one of those iconic characters to me that I aspired to in a lot of ways, in that her fashion was an extension of her personality. She was bright, bold, and never afraid to take chances. She was unapologetically herself. And she was so passionate about her work and very vocal about how much she loved her work, you know?
And I think that that’s something. You don’t have to be just a romantic or just a workaholic. Someone asked me that recently, where they were like, do you think Emily is more of a workaholic or more of a romantic? And I’m like, no, she’s both. You don’t have to choose… She’s a romantic and she loves to work. She’s a romantic about her work. His shows just allow you to disappear into them. Little did we know that this show would be coming out at a time when an American in Paris is kind of a foreign concept right now and we can’t travel. So, the idea that we can watch something, feel like we’re in a foreign country, and laugh and smile with these characters and their stories, is a real joy for me to be a part of.
Also, I think Darren just gets that romcom with depth and heart and complexity so well. I had no idea that I would ever work with Darren Star because when do you ever assume that you’re going to work with people that you love and have grown up admiring. The combination of him and Patricia [Field] was a dream team, that I said, Oh my God, I have to jump. I jumped at the chance to have the opportunity to even try and be a part of it.
Definitely. Very cool. Okay. So I read your interview in W Magazine, and the headline really caught me. It said, For Collins, Emily in Paris is about self-love. I loved that. I was wondering if this is a theme that you’d say is at the heart of the show?
Something that I loved when I read this pilot in combination with a few of the early episodes is why she breaks up with her boyfriend at the very beginning of her time there, is because she realizes that she’s willing to give more in the relationship than he is. She chooses herself and self-love, and that knowing feeling of this isn’t right for me. As opposed to just trying to make something work. I feel like that idea that she knows herself well enough to know that he’s not right for her journey. She chooses herself. The show is taking place in the City Of Love, and yet, it’s more about her and her walk through it.
She’s in all these situations in a foreign country where people are judging her right away. People are trying to push her away at work. It’s a real test. It’s a test for her to unapologetically stay true to herself and keep true to who she is while also pivoting and trying to find new ways to make it work with these new people that she’s meeting. I think that she’s realizing more about herself and how strong she is, and resilient and resourceful when put into these unfamiliar situations.
I think, you know, as someone like the rest of the world, who’s been in quarantine for the past, like… oh, I’ve lost track of time now—but I have found that a lot of the people I’ve spoken to, and it seems to be a pretty common theme, is that element of self-identity. The identity-crisis that we’ve all been going through as individuals and as a country, of what happens when all the places and the people and our jobs are all stripped away and we have to pivot and find out who we are in a new environment.
It’s ironic that the new environment happened to be our home, because it’s where we essentially feel the most comfortable. Yet we’re so used to living in the world outside of our home and having all those distractions and things define who we are and what makes us happy. So, sitting within yourself and having that kind of metaphorical mirror placed in front of you, and really, like, prioritizing and rethinking your life and thinking of it in a new way… like, what does make me happy? How can I be creative without the normal things that I used to be creative? Who do I stay in touch with? How do I do these things? How do I pivot? How do I move forward? Emily’s doing that in her own way. Of course we didn’t know at the time that there would be this comparison to the series in a new way.
I think it really is a story about self-love. When you know who you are, and when you realize what it is important to you the right people fall into place and come into your life.
I think friends can be soulmates in a way as well. Emily and Mindy meeting, it was very much like Ashley [Park] and I meeting. Honestly, we have one person in common who told each of us that we would love each other when we eventually met. We were like, okay, like, can’t wait. But, you never know if that’s actually going to be true. Then the table read happened and I literally walked in, saw her, went over to her, and then that was it. Someone said, Oh my God, how long have you guys known each other? We’re like, oh, we just met.
It was that kind of friendship that you feel as though you’ve known each other for years. You end up attracting the right people or being attracted to the right people when you know yourself well and love yourself and feel that knowing feeling again, that I referenced. Friendships can be romantic. Also, in the workplace, you end up communicating with people differently when you feel that sense of real self-love and understanding. So, yeah, I do feel like it would be easy for people to assume that this is a show about Emily going to Paris and meeting a bunch of guys. It’s not what it is. You know that is going to happen because she’s a young woman and it’s in Paris and it’s part of a show, but that’s not the central part of what this show is. It’s far more than that.
“I think the craft that I get to be a part of in this world is very healing. I want to be a part of projects that can bring that to people as well as myself. I didn’t know at the time that Emily would be coming out when people needed this feeling of escapism, and a smile and a laugh. The fact that this has been that for people is a huge gift.”
Actually, going on what you were saying about friends—I love that Emily has all these spontaneous friendships that just happen. You know, when she’s sitting at the park and when she’s walking out of her building. Have you actually had moments like that in your adult life? Because, you know, when we’re younger, that happens in school because, as kids and even as teenagers, we’re always in a situation where we’re just meeting someone. But as an adult, I feel like it’s a little harder to bump into someone at the market and start a friendship…
Well, a lot of my friendships have kind of happened that way. Not all of them, but a lot of them have happened that way. Someone told me actually two or three years ago, something that has stuck with me. It was that when you’re meeting someone, when you’re younger, you’re meeting someone, but then you’re going to grow with them into who they’re going to become. You’re not meeting someone who is fully formed yet. When you’re an adult and you meet someone, you’re meeting who they’ve already become and who they are. So you’re going to know quicker than you would a younger person. If you guys are going get along, and I mean that romantically or as a friend. You’re not having to figure out who they’re going to become. They already are who they are.
So for me, I was that person, as you were referencing as a kid who would meet someone and be like, I like you let’s hang out! I was just that kid. I was always talkative, and a people person. Now as an adult, that element of me hasn’t necessarily gone away. So, it’s interesting because one of my closest girlfriends, I actually met at an airport. There was a film festival that was happening in Canada, and I was actually leaving Toronto, because I had just finished filming something, and there was this couple at the airport. The thing is, they’re no longer together, but anyway… I ran into this couple, and I knew her partner but I had never met her.
We started talking, and by the time we got on the plane, I asked her then boyfriend to switch seats with me so I could sit next to her because we were getting along so well. We were like, no we have to keep talking. By the time we landed, we had of course exchanged numbers, promising to hang out. And then the next day I randomly in the morning, went to whole foods and I ran into her in the produce aisle randomly. I was like, wait a second… we took this photo together. And I still, to this day have this photo of the two of us, because it was the very beginning of our friendship. We just met at a random location, started talking, got along so well and just connected.
It’s been the same with Ashley and I. Right away, we started talking and it was just that instant thing. And I’ve had that with a couple of girlfriends, to be honest, where we just knew. We just got along and I’m not the person who’s going around to everybody.[Laughs] It takes a very big situation, obviously. But, I have found that a lot of, or some of my close girlfriends have come from unexpected situations. I think it’s just that I was open to receiving that, as were they and we were very like-minded in that way. We both made efforts to continue hanging out and look, if it wasn’t meant to be, we would stop. But it is interesting that these friendships, they’ve now formed into, like some of the people that I face-timed when I got engaged. People that I met in those kinds of situations and I’m so grateful and lucky to have that.
I love those little life bits. So, I turned 30 a week before quarantine came into effect..
Oh my God! Lucky you, you actually got to have, like, a celebratory birthday.
Yeah. Like two and a half weeks before. Definitely blessed for that. But, I’ve been in a somewhat of an introspective state for the past six months. Do you feel any particular way entering this new decade of your life?
I turned 30 while I was shooting a movie in Alabama. And on my 30th birthday, Darren [Star] called me and told me that I got Emily in Paris. He left me a voicemail and said, and I still have the voicemail by the way. He congratulated me and said I can’t wait for you to be Emily, and start the show and stuff…and I obviously never expected that to be my 30th birthday present. But, I didn’t have a crisis, like I know some people have about turning 30. I think I had more of an introspective moment of, like, what’s happening to me at 25, because it was one of those quarter of a century things…
I’m just someone who’s super introspective anyway. I’m very, self-reflective. I’ve done a lot more of this in quarantine, but I love reading books about being introspective and about the human psyche and understanding humans and why we feel how we feel. I’ve been listening to podcasts much more. And of course, with Black Lives Matter, I’ve been doing as much self-growth and education as I can on that too. So for me, all of that growing and learning about myself, I’ve always really been fascinated with. I want to get to know myself of course, but, I think it also has to do with making myself a better listener for other people. To understand humans, and to make myself a more fully functioning adult in being a more centered daughter, friend, fiancé, wife, all those things.
And so for me, when I turned 30 it was interesting. It wasn’t like the day I turned 30, I was, Oh my God. Now I have all this responsibility or things like that. I think it was a gradual process for me and the development of different kinds of self-reflection. And then in the last year from 30 to 31, I really did grow a lot.
I think a lot of that also comes with meeting my person and realizing different things that mattered to me and kind of what that next phase of my life would look like. That’s a whole new path of discovery for me. I can’t imagine what it has been for you turning this age and then dealing with being in quarantine…
Yes, I thought, wow, I’m 30 now. But I’ve been at home for most of that.
Exactly. Sitting at home with all of that [laughs]. Like, Now you’re really thinking about it.
I have to say I’ve been fine. It’s allowed me ample mental space to think.
Being someone that’s super reflective and introspective, in quarantine, I have found, I have found a light and a positive perspective within quarantine. It’s been a good time for that. It’s been an opportunity to really put forth that metaphorical mirror and kind of say, okay—who am I when stripped of all the things that I used to be distracted by. Or my job that I love. With friends or my family, I can’t function in the same way as before. We really have to reprioritize or just pivot. You have to pivot in ways that you can stay creative, stay inspired, stay close to people—all those things. I just think it’s a really important thing to feel, to be in touch with yourself and to know what it is that makes you happy and to know what it is that doesn’t work well with you. You have to know what you like and also what you don’t like in order to figure out who you are.
I think it’s okay to acknowledge that as you grow and learn and discover new things about yourself, you’re going to find that you like things you never liked before, or that you actually don’t enjoy things you thought you did. Or sometimes the people you connected with, you know, how many years ago, you find that you have less in common with, and those are hard conversations to think about within yourself too. It’s like, okay, I’m learning so much about myself. And I’m realizing that maybe I didn’t know too much about something. And I’m a little embarrassed that I did, but I’m not going to let that prevent me from learning more or, from having difficult conversations with friends.
No one really talks about when you realize that you’re not as close with someone as you used to be. You know, we talk about breakups in romantic situations, but with friendships, it’s also interesting. How we all grow and sometimes go in separate directions. I think all of this is just so interesting to think about, especially when you don’t have distraction. It’s weird right? It can be a very hard situation to find yourself in, especially if someone’s not used to reflecting and being lost in their thoughts.
Incredibly so. I think it’s even… I don’t want to say more important than a romantic relationship, but it’s still big because, you know, with a friend you don’t have this together or not together aspect of it.
So, it’s like you’re there because you like them. And then once you figure out that maybe you guys aren’t the same anymore, it’s like, okay… so do we just stop little by little? You know, it’s not like you declare you no longer want to be with them… It’s very strange, and definitely something we don’t touch on as much.
It’s very strange. And it’s something that I feel is easier and more commonly spoken about obviously with romantic situations, but it’s not as much talked about with friendships. There is a history there that you kind of don’t know what to do with. It’s interesting because this time has also brought about a lot of conversations that are incredibly important, whether it’s politically, racially, just so many conversations that sometimes I think are ones that maybe we’ve shied away from, or not actively avoided, but just subconsciously avoided.
To then have those conversations and see where different people land on topics and kind of navigating that and really not shying away from self-educating and engaging in more charged conversations. I think it’s all part of growing, and you don’t know what that feels like until you get into those kinds of situations. And sometimes those just don’t naturally happen until I guess you’re in your thirties and find yourself in those conversations.
I love that this is your vibe…
Oh it’s totally my vibe. Sometimes people are like, God, you think a lot. It must be exhausting being in your brain. And I’m like, no, I find it so fascinating because again, I don’t find it selfish to better understand. I’ve always been fascinated with understanding humans and whether it that meant being a teen therapist in high school or studying psychology, or reading books that deal with expressing one’s emotions. I wrote a book a few years ago where I just kind of put a lot of stuff out on the table and said; this is how I’m feeling. This is what I’ve been through. This is what I’m learning about. I think if we all just did that more, we would all feel less alone. And I think Emily got that. She discusses her feelings a little bit obvious. She’s not afraid to ask for help. And I think that asking for help is not a weakness. It’s a strength. In quarantine, I’ve leaned a lot on friends and family and my fiancé. The same thing with having these conversations when you finally admit to things and then other people go, Oh my God, me too. And then you go, Oh, that’s crazy. It’s actually so freeing when you do the work, because then you have all these tools to call on and the things that you would have reverted to doing in the past that weren’t beneficial to you or that were harmful—you don’t even think about calling on anymore, because you have all these actually positive tools to use.
Definitely… I mean, my mother is a therapist, so, I grew up with self-reflectiveness in the corner of my eye all the time.
Oh my god, yeah.
Yeah, [laughs]. You should also look into Joseph Campbell. He’s a philosopher and talks a lot about this sort of human experience topic. His book Pathways To Bliss..
I love it… I’m going to write that down. Pathways To Bliss?
Yes. Joseph Campbell. He has a lot of books, but I think this one is special.
Okay, okay. Done.
You kind of touched on this a little, but what has been an unlikely challenge during this time that has been unexpected for you?
Gosh, I mean, there’s been so many different challenges, um…
As well as unlikely lessons…
Okay. I guess for me dealing with uncertainty and being out of control, when I was younger was something that I then reverted to being unhealthy. The tools I was referencing, and I’ve talked about this in my book. I would take it out on myself. So when I was younger and feeling out of control, I reverted to an eating disorder phase within my life. In this time we’ve all been in an uncertainty stage. Feeling a little disjointed. It’s so out of our control, and how do we feel the most safe? How do we stay sane? How do we feel centered? How do we control whatever we can control and understand that the rest of it is just out of our hands. We have what we can control, which is being as safe as possible, staying home, wearing a mask. Washing my hands, staying away from most people…
You want to protect others and protect yourself. So there are things you can do to be in control. But, in a larger sense. What I was saying about when I was younger is I wouldn’t have had the tools to use, to feel, to recenter myself.
And so for me, I didn’t realize that I actually had a lot of anxiety at the beginning of this. Again, not uncommon to most of the planet, but I was asking myself how do I deal with this anxiety in a way that’s beneficial, that’s helpful. That is creative. That will help me feel productive. And that will ultimately calm me down. And that’s not disruptive to who I am and who I’ve become and what I’ve grown through. For me, re-reading books that I’ve read was something I did. I’m sure you’ve heard so many people talk about Glennon Doyle, but I was reading her book Untamed. And then I read her other two books.
I recently discovered Jay Shetty, whose book just came out, which is called Think Like A Monk, as well as his podcast. I listened to his podcast so much during this as well as The Happiness Lab, uh God, what’s the name of the other one? I have to remember, because you’ll love these, especially since your mom’s a therapist. I’ll look to see what that one was. But I just found other ways of healing that anxiety and at the same time growing so much within myself and realizing how much stronger I really am, learning how to channel my anxiety into growing and learning. Learning that I can channel it into knowledge, and then I ended up actually feeling more… I’m going to use this word because I can’t think of another, but… enlightened.
I love that word.
Oh, I remember now, it’s called The One You Feed… And you need to look that up. It’s another Podcast that I love… But yeah, I’ve been really utilizing the anxiety and the feeling uncentered and unstable and out of control and kind of analyzing, listening to people on podcasts, reading other people’s experiences and using that as an opportunity to be enlightened.
And actually it’s been exciting for me because I felt like I’ve grown so much through the anxiety, as opposed to just reverting to past behavior. You know, the easy way out, which for some reason, ended up being about self harm, which was really just anti what one would want to do in a situation when trying to feel more centered—and that was my experience in the past.
Having that metaphorical mirror and having a partner with me in this experience to help grow and learn and be enlightened together within this experience. I think that it has made me a stronger person and I’m really proud of the resources that I have found throughout this experience. And again, like I was referencing to you, when you know more about yourself, the right people come into your life when you seek out the right assistance. It’s like whether it’s the book that I’ve read and then recommend it to other people or recommending podcasts. And then having people recommend ones to me, I’ve been in communication now with authors and, teachers and people on podcasts. Being in communication and actually connecting to people that are like-minded in their studies and in their interests. I would never have been in contact with them, had I not sought out that kind of knowledge and resource. So, my anxieties have led me to this whole new world of self-exploration. I think that really taught me a lot because instead of going backwards, I feel like I jumped so far forward. That was a very interesting experience for me.
I love that so much. This whole thought reminds me of this quote that I read a long time ago by Wayne Dyer. It goes; If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
That’s really good. I love that. I really love that.
I read that you’re very much into meditation. Is this something you’ve been learning about recently or something you’ve also been practicing?
You hear a lot about meditation and there’s just so many different ways to meditate and it doesn’t always work for everyone. There’s quiet meditation, there’s guided meditation. So, I’ve never really known what would work for me because as you can tell, my brain tends to work a mile a minute… and maybe that means I actually need quiet meditation more than I think. But, my fiancé was encouraging me to try meditation at the beginning of quarantine. I started doing it and I actually really liked it. It was a guided meditation, but it was just a few minutes each day and you can work your way up, and it was like getting me acquainted with actually dedicating a certain amount of time to doing it.
Whereas usually I kind of have these thoughts all the time of like, thinking about things and questioning things. I didn’t put aside time to just focus on that and quiet everything else out. So, I started trying it at the beginning of quarantine. What I have always done is finding meditation in things that I love. So whether it’s just listening to music and taking the time to just be within that moment of listening to music or within my job, I find my job quite meditative sometimes too. I’m so lost in a character or I’m so lost in the studying of a character that I learn about myself. Or when I can tune out other things, like being out in nature, taking a hike, or these road trips that I’ve been taking with Charlie and our dog Redford. There’s meditative qualities to doing that as well, because you’re really centering in on the moment and being present. That, for me, is something that I used to have a hard time doing when I was younger. I was either focused on the past or so far in the future about what I wanted to do, that I was less focused on the now.
But, I never had really sat and meditated and that was something I learned during the beginning of quarantine. But then, Charlie also taught me how to surf, and I found that extremely meditative, to be out in the water, in the waves, sitting on a surf board, waiting for a wave—and then spotting a dolphin come swim by and you’re going… wait what? It’s so spiritual. You’re just sitting there, like, is this real? And there are moments like that, in an environment where you’re not in control, it’s just the board and the waves. You can only control how strong you are when you get up. There’s this element of feeling strong and feeling one with the moment, because if you’re thinking about other things, you’re going to fall.
I’m eating this up…
Another thing was being introduced to somebody that has now become a really influential person in my life in terms of either meditating or self-growth. Jay Shetty, who is now a friend, whose book I referenced, Think Like A Monk. He has the number one health podcast in the world called On Purpose. I do a lot of work with the Go Campaign and with WE, which is a kids organization around the world that deals with local heroes… and with WE, I hosted this educational school day for kids when quarantined first started.
Jay came on and we did an interview and then he did a meditation on this zoom platform. And I loved it so much. First of all, his voice is so soothing, but I liked his way of talking through meditation and then we just continued communicating.
I was listening to his podcast and I read his book early on and then interviewed him the day that his book came out. It was like, just because I connected through the way that he spoke in the meditation, and just his vibe, I now have become friends with him. It’s one of those things. I was encouraged to start meditating, and started finding it in new ways. I don’t think you have to have one way of meditating. I think it can be found within your daily activities. I’ve found that I like listening to podcasts and that has also been an amazing time to meditate because you’re just on your own. Like, I clean my house and I listen, you know what I mean? I think you can really get lost in it.
I love that. I didn’t ask earlier, but are you on a road trip now?
We just got back yesterday. Charlie and I were in New Mexico and Sedona for a week.
Nice. So, this is a spontaneous question that I’ve just thought of, but, you know, Emily goes through all these moments in Paris where she feels like an outsider and that’s not really what the show is about, but I mean, when I went to Paris, I felt like a stupid American, because I didn’t know the language, and I’m never the stupid American. But, it was just hard to be unable to say small things that I wanted to say. I’m a vocal person, and I would think, Oh, I love your shoes… but I couldn’t say that…
I’m the same, by the way. I grew up going up to random people, being like, I love your dress. Or hey—that’s a really cool..
I was always that person. Sometimes people are like, why are you over-talking? And I’m like, no that’s not it. I just feel like they should know that their shoes are cool. I would’ve like to receive that compliment. I was that kid.
Right. So, while in Paris, it was a bit of a challenge for me, since my essence was limited. Have you felt that way in any place of the world?
Yeah. You know, actually when I was filming in South Korea, I think it was probably like four years ago now. I was there for a month. I’d never been to Seoul. There was this culture clash, and I didn’t know the language. Similar to Emily and Paris, where you’ve got these two cultures coming together and there’s a language barrier and there’s cultural differences… So, as someone coming into that and living it for a month, I learned a few things to say. However, it was different from what I used to that there were many moments when I wanted to say or express something, but I couldn’t, and that was frustrating.
Because you wanted your personality to transfer over…
Exactly. I didn’t want my silence to come across as anti-social or as if I didn’t care. I wasn’t able to fully be that person that I wanted to be because of the language barrier. That is very difficult. Also, I don’t eat red meat, and the food there was slightly different. You’re like, okay, I feel a little bit like a fish out of water. I know that my character is also kind of a fish out of water, so that’s okay. But, I want to immerse myself as much as I can, but it’s so drastically different. So, yes, it’s a very strange situation to be in when you’re naturally such a people person.
“I want to continue to be able to learn and grow and allow others to do the same through the projects that I choose. On another note, I feel that inclusion and diversity is so important for me in the jobs that I choose and the teams that are created around those projects.”
Davy Newkirk/The Wall Group
Fiona Stiles/A-Frame Agency
Absolutely. So, we both know this year has brought so much light on many issues, like racial injustices, capitalism and the growing political polarization that we deal with daily. I love that you’ve been vocal from the start. I think that’s really admirable because in doing so you open yourself up to criticism, which isn’t easy. I think now, the need for escapism is more important than ever. For me, in watching the show, I didn’t realize how fun it would be to watch a show that was set in a different country. As opposed to maybe a year ago, where the allure wouldn’t have felt as charged. Do you feel like your role as an artist has changed a bit in these times?
Yeah. It’s so interesting. I’ve started another phase of my life in the last couple of days. I’m now engaged, and there’s a new element of this whole new chapter of my life happening.
I’ve found such an amazing unit with my partner, Charlie, our dog, and our friends. It’s rethinking priorities, and the future, and what I want to build together is huge part of that. For both of us, essentially we’re in the same industry. But, for me personally, it’s always been about the roles and the material and what the characters say. I’m never doing something because I want to do a certain genre. It’s always been character driven and material driven, and I’ve never wanted to just play the arm candy. There has to be something more and something greater. You know, I feel lucky to have been able to do a movie like, To The Bone,that discusses eating disorders—where I got to share my experiences and really add to that. That was a very meta moment where your art and your life get to mold together in a way that is healing for people watching, but also for myself.
So, I think the craft that I get to be a part of in this world is very healing. I want to be a part of projects that can bring that to people as well as myself. I didn’t know at the time that Emily in Paris would be coming out when people needed this feeling of escapism, and a smile and a laugh. The fact that this has been that for people is a huge gift. It’s a gift for them, but it’s also a gift for me, because it feels like I’m able to be a part of someone’s healing in a sense. Moving forward I want to continue to be able to learn and grow and allow others to do the same through the projects that I choose. On another note, I feel that inclusion and diversity is so important for me in the jobs that I choose and the teams that are created around those projects. So, it’s become even more apparent as a producer and as an actress that this is all very important to me as well. It’s a new phase in the industry.
It’s a new day…
It’s a new day! Things are being done in a very different way. I haven’t been back on a film set, but I know from others of how different it is and how nice it is to be back at work because of the differences. We have to be adaptable and keep pivoting and finding new ways to stay creative and fulfilled and continue learning. To keep growing and keep healing, because now there’s so much to heal. Using the arts as a tool for healing is just so powerful. It’s like I said, not only for viewers, but also the creators. I’m excited to be apart of that process. I have to keep remembering that. When I do something, I feel really lucky that with every project that I’ve done, the experience of it has taught me so much about the industry, my craft, and myself. So that at the end of the day, even though I obviously want people to see, it doesn’t end up just being about that. So, if whatever I do, for whatever reason doesn’t come out, I want to know that the experience of the character is going to teach me enough and make me want to learn and grow enough, that I won’t worry that people have never seen it. Doing something to be seen, that’s not for me. That’s not a reason to do something. The adventure and the journey and the experience of it has to be far more important than the end result. That’s how I see it.
That’s a very beautiful way of looking at things. So, lastly I have some people simple questions. They’re short, but I think they say a lot about someone’s personality. You can answer with just one word.
Oooh. Okay. Go.
What’s your favorite movie?
Oh my God, I think I’m going to go with The Breakfast Club.
Favorite movie genre?
I’m going to say period piece.
Who you admire?
I love that. What’s your favorite time of day?
Oh I love that. This is the last thing that I would’ve said—but I kind of love it the most now… Which is—first thing in the morning.
Nice. Okay, this has been a very enlightening and inspiring conversation.
Thank you! For me too. Thank you for the recommendations, I’ve written them down. I have to say, this was the best interview I’ve had.
Wow, I love that.
It was the most interesting and the most fun. You got the show in a way that other people haven’t. Your perspective was really interesting and the conversation feels like it’s exactly where I’m at right now. Not a lot of people have tuned into that kind of perspective on the show and in life, and everything. I really appreciate that.
That means so much, thank you.
Lily Collins is photographed by Shane McCauley for the digital cover and print magazine of The Laterals in Los Angeles on September 14th 2020.
EMILY IN PARIS is streaming now on Netflix