At 19, Oak Park native Tavi Gevinson has experienced more than most people do in a lifetime—but that doesn’t mean she’s going to slow down anytime soon. The teen blogger continues to run Rookie magazine, is gearing up to star in The Crucible on Broadway, and just released Rookie Yearbook Four.
I chatted with Gevinson over the phone from her office in New York ahead of her return home to Chicago on her upcoming book tour, and we talked about growing up, the Music Box, and her current pop-culture obsessions.
What can we expect to read in Rookie Yearbook Four?
Oh my gosh, I literally, like, 20 minutes ago saw my first copy of it, so I’m really buzzing from excitement. As always it’s the best of the work that went up online in our “senior year.” There are a lot of really amazing articles, diary entries, poetry, interviews, my editor’s letters that I write every month, and photography and illustration. Because I’ve never really been OK with just copy and pasting it all, I’ve exhaustively designed and collaged and handwritten pages. I could take you through every page and be like, “That background is a fabric from my childhood bedroom” and “that background is a page from my diary.” For the exclusives we got people like Lorde, Solange, Willow Smith, Charli XCX, Jazz Jennings, Ariana Grande, lots of people who I am inspired by, and who our readers love, to give interviews or talk to each other. Three of them wrote out all of their influences from over the years and we had three of our teenage illustrators draw them out as maps. I could go on and on, I’m so hyper from seeing the book.
So this is the last yearbook?
I don’t think it’s the end for Rookie in print, but it felt like it would be good to have one for each year of high school. I have to say, it’s always been hard to choose a favorite, but this one might be it for me.
So now that you and Rookie are done with high school, have you considered attending college?
I’ve considered. When I was a senior I applied to schools in New York and was accepted and told them I would take a year off. Then in the middle of my year off I realized that if I had been doing school I would have been half present at school and half present with the projects I’m working on that I’m excited about, and I would rather commit fully to either one. Right now it seems like it’s the latter.
So you’re going to be on Scream Queens soon then The Crucible on Broadway. Has acting become your full-time career at the moment?
It’s not like I can wake up in the morning and say, “Today I feel like acting.” It depends when I get scripts that I want to pursue or I get a part and then I go away for a few days to film. Once I start doing The Crucible things will change, and it will be very intense because I want to feel focused and healthy through that process. But right now it’s very week to week. Last week I took a few days off to go upstate and work on some of my own writing. It was important to me to do that. I’m very lucky that I’m able to organize my life according to what I need.
What’s happening with Rookie online with all these other things you’re working on?
We just relaunched the site at the beginning of September. When I’m not going away for a few days for writing or to film something, I’m coming to the office five days a week. I’m able to make it work.
As you grow up and change, what changes do you see for Rookie?
That’s something we’re all talking about now because I do have to make sure that I have time to have other types of experiences. Everyone here is very supportive of that. I think it would be kind of antithetical to the spirit of Rookie if I didn’t experience other stuff day to day than just what I’m working on.
You’re coming to the Music Box for your book tour. What’s it like for you now when you come home to Chicago?
It’s weird. When I moved to New York I couldn’t come home for like six months because we were doing the play [This is Our Youth] every day, and when I finally went back it was like all the messes in my room were the same, nothing had moved. I really find myself missing stuff like the way my dogs paws sounded on the floor or hearing that my mom was downstairs and my dad was in his office and stuff like that. The Music Box, my friends and I would go to Rocky Horror Picture Show there at midnight in high school, and it was so fun. I remember I saw Wes Anderson do a Q&A there when Grand Budapest Hotel came out, I saw a screening of Almost Famous there, and that’s where I saw the Bill Cunningham documentary with my dad. I have a lot of affection for the Music Box, and I’m really excited that that’s where we’re having the event.
I know it changes daily for you, but what are some of your current obsessions?
Well, I’m watching Scream Queens and the new season of Bob’s Burgers, I’m reading a play by Sheila Heti, I’ve been listening to the new Carly Rae Jepsen and Drake, just like everyone else. Two things I just enjoyed were Miranda July’s interview with Rihanna in the New York Times—it’s a lovely interview—and this morning I listened to a Hillary Clinton interview on the podcast Another Round. It was great to hear her in such a casual environment and they asked her extremely thoughtful and challenging questions.
And I’m sure your book will soon be on other people’s lists of current obsessions.
I’m so excited about it. I’m really proud of everyone who worked really hard on this and for me the best thing is when I can experience it as a reader. So even though it’s work and I remember staying at the Penguin offices past midnight finishing the layout and everything, I’m looking forward to taking it home and reading it in bed.
Tavi Gevinson, Wed 10/21, Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport, musicboxtheatre.com, $10, $34 includes copy of the book.