Young Stars InStyle

By Catherine Wang

When Lily Collins ’07 walked onto a plane from New York four years ago, all she could think about was getting home. Little did she know how life-changing that plane ride would be. Collins met renowned fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger on the plane. He put Collins in his fashion show the very next night.

“After that flight, it all seemed to go so fast,” Collins said. Hilfiger helped Collins set up a meeting with a modeling agency and set her on her “journey” to where we she is now.

Collins and Mavis Spencer ’09 were featured in InStyle magazine’s September issue section “Star Track: The Next Generation,” which features up and coming starlets who also have parents that are established in the entertainment industry.

Spencer is the daughter of Academy Award-nominated actress Alfre Woodard and screenwriter and director Roderick Spencer. Though Spencer was profiled for her modeling career, she hardly considers herself a model.

“I’ve done a few shoots but nothing to make me consider myself a model,” Spencer said. “I’m an equestrian.”

One of the top female horseback riders in the country, Spencer’s first experience modeling was for an equestrian magazine, the “Show Circuit.” Soon after, she was photographed for a spread in Teen Vogue magazine. Two years later, she compiled a professional portfolio but did not model again until this year.

Weeks before her high school graduation, Spencer was offered the InStyle modeling job by her mother’s agent. She sent her portfolio to the magazine and was given the job. Spencer flew home from a horse show in Canada for a day to be photographed.

“I felt very honored to be chosen. I’m sure there are a lot of girls out there who would have loved an opportunity like that,” Spencer said.

Spencer said it was “strange” seeing her pictures in a well-known magazine. She tried telling as few people as possible about the shoot, but already, many friends have told her that they had seen her in the magazine.

“I was a little uncomfortable with it at first,” Spencer said. “[Wearing] those clothes with that much makeup on… It isn’t really me.”

Regarding her future, Spencer is keeping her options as open as possible. She is currently deferring from Columbia University and is working for rider Kent Farrington in New York.

As for modeling, Spencer is unsure about a career in the field, but will attempt to model in the future if it is convenient.

“It’s not a priority though,” Spencer said.

Like Spencer, modeling has become less of a priority in Collin’s life as well. Collins, the daughter of pop legend Phil Collins and Beverly Hills commissioner Jill Tavelman Collins, is an on-camera correspondent for Nickelodeon and a budding actress.

“I have always loved fashion, meeting people, and traveling, but [modeling] was not something I grew up wanting to pursue,” she said.

Collins calls modeling a “privilege,” but she has recently shifted her focus from modeling to acting. Collins cites her modeling experience as an advantage for acting.

“It really helps to know my angles and how to feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera,” Collins said. “I find that being aware of the positive and negative space in a photograph is very similar to knowing how to utilize my space on a set and in a scene.”

Collins has had her current job, hosting Nickelodeon’s show “Hollywood Hang,” for two years. The show is an entertainment news program specifically for children and teenagers.

Collins goes to the sets of Nickelodeon shows and interviews the shows’ stars, allowing viewers to see a more “personal side” of the actors.

“It’s such a fun job because I love meeting new people, laughing, asking questions, and having fun,” Collins said.

In addition to her current job, Collins has been busy auditioning for various acting roles. After what she calls a “long process,” she finally landed roles in the films “The Blind Side” and “Priest” as well as a guest role on the television series “90210.”

Collins was ecstatic when she was cast in “The Blind Side.”

“I couldn’t believe that I was finally getting my chance to dive in and do what I love,” she said.

In “The Blind Side,” which will be released in theaters later this year, Collins stars alongside Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Kathy Bates.

“This story, in which I play Sandra’s young Southern teenage daughter, will make you cry, laugh and feel good,” Collins said.

Collins is currently shooting “Priest,” a movie based on the Tokyo pop comic book series of the same name.

“I get to do my own stunts and work with some incredibly talented actors,” Collins said. “I am learning so much throughout the entire process.”

Collins, an avid reader of InStyle magazine, was “absolutely honored” and “incredibly proud” to be featured in it.

“I loved the edgy and chic clothes and location they used for the shoot as well as hanging out with the other girls,” Collins said.

With such a busy acting schedule, it has been difficult for Collins to continue her studies at the University of Southern California. Last semester, Collins had to fly home in the middle of filming “The Blind Side” in Atlanta to take her finals.

“When I wasn’t filming, I would be in my trailer studying and writing papers,” Collins said. “There was definitely never a dull moment.”

Collins had planned to return to USC this semester, but decided to defer at the last minute when she was cast in “Priest.”

“I was beyond thrilled that I was going to be part of this incredible project, but it was just too much to do with a full schedule at school,” Collins said. “I wanted to be able to fully dedicate myself to this film and be immersed in the story.”

Collins plans on returning to school next semester but has accepted the fact that a new job may come along the way and completely change her plans. She has “loved every minute” of her new acting career and hopes to continue with it, even if she must take time off from school.

“I know that I will go back one day and finish,” Collins said. “I’ve just accepted that it may take me longer to finish.”