Tavi Gevinson (born April 21, 1996 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American writer, magazine editor, actress, and singer. She came to public attention at the age of 12, due to her fashion blog Style Rookie. By the age of 15, she had shifted her focus to pop culture and feminist discussion. Gevinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online Rookie Magazine, aimed primarily at teenage girls. In both 2011 and 2012, she appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media list. In 2014, she was named one of "The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014" by Time magazine.
Gevinson was born in Chicago, and was raised in the suburban town of Oak Park, Illinois. Her father, Steve Gevinson, is a retired English high school teacher. Her mother, Berit Engen, is a weaver and part-time Hebrew instructor who grew up in Oslo, Norway. Gevinson's father was born to an Orthodox Jewish family, while her mother, who was raised a Lutheran, converted to Judaism in 2001. Gevinson and her two older sisters, Rivkah and Miriam, were raised in the Jewish faith; she had a Bat Mitzvah ceremony.
2008–2011: Style Rookie
Gevinson started a fashion blog, Style Rookie, in 2008. The blog, featuring photos of the eleven-year-old in distinctive outfits and her commentary on the latest fashion trends, began drawing nearly 30,000 readers each day. Her father "wasn't terribly interested" in her new hobby until she asked for his permission to be interviewed by The New York Times for an article about young bloggers. Because of the blog's success, Gevinson was invited to attend New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week. She made overseas fashion-related trips to Tokyo and Antwerp, funded by Pop magazine, and was commissioned to write articles for Harper's Bazaar and Barneys.com. She styled a shoot for BlackBook magazine, acted as a muse and model for Rodarte's clothing line at Target stores, and partnered with Borders&Frontiers to design and sell her own T-shirt. In 2010, she spoke at a marketing conference in New York and at Idea City, a Canadian version of the TED conference.
There was a backlash to Gevinson's early success in the fashion industry. New York Magazine questioned whether it was possible for Gevinson to write her blog without "some help from a mom or older sister". Sarah Mower of The Daily Telegraph, while conceding that Gevinson had a "truly independent, original voice", criticized her father for taking her out of school "to go to haute couture shows ... It's hard to imagine a kid being able to come back down to reality." A Grazia fashion editor complained on Twitter that a large bow worn by Gevinson had blocked her view of a runway during fashion week. Anne Slowey of Elle felt her success was "gimmicky" and commented, "She’s been thirteen for, like, the last four years." Gevinson later remarked: “A lot of people on the Internet have a problem with a young person doing well. I felt like, there were people who were [at fashion week] because of their name, their money or their family, and I didn’t have any of those things.”
2011–present: Rookie and acting roles
In early 2011, Gevinson decided to stop writing primarily about fashion: "Lately I've been looking to other places for a creative outlet and for inspiration ... Now I'm more intrigued by mixing fashion with the other stuff I've been enjoying." Gevinson's personal style also became less outlandish: "Before, dressing up was my outlet, and now I’m pursuing other creative things that take up a lot of time and energy, so in the morning I usually want to put on something simple and comfortable."
In the fall of 2011, at the age of fifteen, Gevinson founded Rookie Magazine. The site was originally conceived of as a joint venture with Jane Pratt but Gevinson ultimately decided to maintain sole ownership. Ira Glass acts as a mentor figure to Gevinson. The website focuses on issues impacting teenage girls and is written mainly by teenage girls. It also features guest contributors such as Judd Apatow, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, Paul Rudd, Joss Whedon, Jon Hamm and John Waters. A one-off print edition of the magazine, Rookie Yearbook One, was published by Drawn and Quarterly in 2012. In 2012, Gevinson spoke at TEDxTeen, with a focus on representation of women in popular culture, and at The Economist's World in 2012 Festival. She is also a contributing editor at Garage Magazine. In both 2011 and 2012, Gevinson appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Media list.
Gevinson is represented by the Hollywood agency UTA. She first acted in a short film, First Bass, in 2008, but became more visible in 2012. That year, she voiced a character in the animated short film Cadavar, which was long-listed for an Academy Award. Cadavar was directed by First Bass's Jonah Anseel and co-starred Kathy Bates and Christopher Lloyd. In the film, she sang renditions of both Neil Young and Pet Shop Boys songs. Also in 2012, Gevinson filmed a role in Enough Said from director Nicole Holofcener, co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener and Toni Collette. Gevinson is interviewed on screen in the 2013 documentary film The Punk Singer, talking about riot grrrl punk icon Kathleen Hanna. In 2014 and 2015, she starred in This Is Our Youth in Chicago and on Broadway, opposite Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin. On the MSNBC chat show So Popular!, host Janet Mock dubbed her the "Queen of the Millennials". She then made a guest appearance on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on a panel critiquing Sean Penn's Rolling Stone interview with El Chapo.
During the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, Gevinson supported the Democratic candidate Barack Obama, and appeared in a public service announcement for women's rights, mouthing the words to Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me". She organized a get-well-soon-card drive for Malala Yousafzai, the fourteen-year-old Pakistani girl whose campaigning for education rights led to her shooting in October 2012.