The untold truth of Lily Collins

Hollywood darling Lily Collins is a bona fide superstar. Born in 1989, this millennial celebrity is one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, but her fame isn’t just for of her substantial acting chops. The lauded actress cemented her status as one to watch in 2017, when she was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in Rules Don’t Apply. Her star was already on the rise at that point, but, since then, she has landed some other high-profile roles. Some notable parts include playing Fantine in a television adaptation of Les Misérables and starring in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile opposite Zac Efron.

Collins might be a celebrity, but, so far, she has managed to remain scandal free and has established herself as a role model for young people. The refreshingly down-to-earth actress is also using her platform to empower young women, and we are so here for it.

She might soon be more famous than her dad

Collins is a fairly common last name, so you might not have connected the actress to her famous dad. Her father is pop legend Phil Collins. Her dad has more than a dozen U.S. top ten hits under his belt, including “In the Air Tonight” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

She might not be making a name for herself in the music business, but Lily Collins is still on the way to becoming even more famous than her dad. Not that she’s chasing fame. Collins has been adamant about pursuing acting because it’s something she loves, not because it will bring her attention. “I was never looking at a strategic way of gaining fame,” she told The Guardian. “That’s not why I’m doing this.”

One thing she learned from her dad, who has often found himself the subject of tabloids, is to keep her private life private. “I’ve grown up knowing that you put as much of your private life out there as you feel comfortable with,” she said.

Wait, where is she from?

Lily Collins has proven through movies like Love, Rosie and Tolkien that she can pull off a pretty impressive British accent. What many don’t realize, though, is that Collins — who speaks with an American accent in real life — was actually born in the U.K. When a role calls for a British accent, she just needs to tap into those roots.

At the age of 5, Collins moved to Los Angeles with her mother when her parents split up. But she didn’t have a typical American childhood. Collins frequently flew back to her native country to spend time with her dad, celebrating Christmas in West Sussex where she was born. “It’s the best place to be for the holidays –- all cold and wintry,” she told The Guardian. “Love the food, love the tea. I still feel very European.”

In an interview with Crash, Collins again said that she feels “more European at heart,” but she still considers both England and Los Angeles home.

She's very close to her mom

Collins and her mom share a tight bond. Her mother is a key part of her support system whom she counts on to “stabilize and ground” her. Like most people, Collins sometimes struggles emotionally and feels insecure. Fortunately, when such feelings plague her, she has an incredible group of people to turn to.

“If I feel insecure in any way, shape, or form, I reach out to the people who matter most to me, whether that’s FaceTime, a phone call, or hopefully being able to go out and have coffee or dinner with them,” Collins told Byrdie. “I don’t even need to bring up what I’m feeling, I just need to be around them to make me smile and make me forget about whatever I’m thinking about.”

Collins added that her mom will always be her go-to. “She’s first and foremost the closest person to me that inspires me,” she said.

Her journalism roots

While she’s most recognizable as an actress, Collins actually has roots in another artistic medium: journalism. The actress got her start in writing around the same time she was trying to break into the acting business. She told Momtastic that she “wanted to get more practice, whether it was journalism, on-air time, producing, learning about editing, anything.”

From there, Collins went on to broadcasting. “I started doing journalism for Nickelodeon, Extra, E, various networks. It was fun and interesting because I was interviewing the very actors I wanted to work with,” she recalled.

Collins also had her own column, “New York Confidential,” in the British edition of Elle Girl. Majoring in broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California helped prepare her for the interviews she now gives as a celebrity. “I know that it’s your job to ask the awkward questions,” she told The Globe and Mail. “But it’s also very weird now to be on the other side of it, because I can feel questions coming.”

Her big break

Having a wealthy and famous dad doesn’t guarantee anyone success, least of all Collins. The actress struggled early on in her career and had to work hard to get to where she is today. While she started in the business at 2 years old with an appearance on the British sitcom Growing Pains, her path to Hollywood royalty was slow. She had a small voice role nearly a decade later in 1999’s Tarzan, but this was followed by a ten-year hiatus. She later made a couple of appearances on 90210 in 2009 and then landed a supporting role in The Blind Side that same year. It was 2012’s Mirror Mirror, in which she played Snow White opposite actress Julia Roberts, that she considers to be her big break.

“I got told ‘no’ so many times,” she told Momtastic about her struggle to make it. “People told me I was too green or wasn’t as seasoned yet.”

To the Bone was a deeply personal film

Many actresses would have been daunted by the lead role in To the Bone. The film’s protagonist, Ellen, suffers from anorexia, something that Collins knows a thing or two about. She had previously suffered from anorexia and bulimia, but she decided to accept the part, even though it meant reliving some painful memories. Under the careful guidance of a nutritionist, Collins lost weight for the role. “I personally knew that this was something I needed to do to tell this story,” she told USA Today.  

The effect was haunting. Collins lost so much weight that fans expressed concern. It was important to the actress that the role be authentic, not just for the sake of the film but also to open up a discourse about eating disorders. “For me, it was a sign from the world saying, ‘This is probably something that is actually bigger than you,'” she said. “‘There’s a larger thing in play here and both are going to be able to better inform one another.’ When you have your life’s mission and the mission of a project merge like this so beautifully, that’s like total magic.”

She's been ghosted by people she's dated

If life were fair, being an internationally recognized celebrity would afford you some luck in dating. Fame is fickle, though, and Collins has had to struggle through the dating pool just like the rest of us. Like many millennials, Collins has been ghosted by a date, and being famous doesn’t make getting dumped without so much as a goodbye any easier.

“There are times when I’ve [been on dates and] thought we had a great time and then I’ve never heard from the guy again,” she told Glamour. “Sometimes that happens after one date, a couple of dates or one month. I would prefer people to be honest with me, as I live like that. I don’t think it will be something I can ever figure out.”

You’d think someone landing a date with a movie star would at least be courteous to send her a text explaining things, but it seems people who are rude enough to ghost someone don’t care about fame.

And ghosted by actual ghosts?

Being dropped like a hot potato isn’t the only type of ghosting Collins has had to deal with. The actress has claimed to have also been haunted by actual ghosts. While preparing for her role in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a film about serial killer Ted Bundy who murdered dozens of young women and girls in the 1970s, Collins claimed some of Bundy’s victims visited her.

She told The Guardian that she woke up every night at 3:05 a.m. “I started being woken up by flashes of images, like the aftermath of a struggle,” she said. “I discovered that 3 a.m. is the time when the veil between the realms is the thinnest and one can be visited.”

Collins wasn’t scared, but she instead felt that Bundy’s victims were coming forward in support. “I felt supported,” she said. “I felt like people were saying: ‘We’re here listening. We’re here to support. Thank you for telling the story.'”

Standing in solidarity with women in Hollywood

From earning less than their male co-stars to being sexually assaulted, being a woman in Tinseltown can be terrifying. In 2018, Collins commented on the rise of women in Hollywood fighting back in the wake of the #MeToo movement. “It’s great to see the camaraderie that’s come from it,” she told Glamour. “Women coming forward with these issues are being embraced. Whether it’s in the pay gap or having more female directors, writers, and making sure there are just as many women and men on movie sets — hopefully one day this won’t even have to be a conversation.”

Collins is thrilled to see women becoming empowered, and it has inspired her to be more vocal herself. “I’m attracted so strongly to people who are brave and outspoken and very much themselves, so I thought, ‘Why can’t I be that?'” she said. “It takes practice and I’m not fully there yet, but I’m doing my best to take those steps.”

Putting pen to paper… again

Collins got back to her literary roots with the publication of her memoir, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me, in 2017. In her book, Collins got real about several personal experiences, including an emotionally abusive relationship she was in and her experience with eating disorders. Collins told Teen Vogue that she hoped being open about her own life would help others.

“I’ve always been a huge advocate of young people helping other young people through open conversation, and I’ve never had a problem being a conduit through which honest conversation can happen,” she said. “If that means being in an awkward situation or being vulnerable, that’s been something I’m OK with.” She noted that she wanted to share her experiences with others through her book, stating, “It’s taken me to this point to come to terms with certain things and become comfortable enough to talk about them. I just felt that now was the right time for me to get some of these things off my chest.”

This is what she does to unwind

How does a Hollywood star destress? One of Collins’ favorite ways is by writing, naturally. Another form of therapy for her is baking. “I love baking… it’s really my time in the kitchen to explore and experiment and zone out,” she told Byrdie. She continued, “I love the process: You have to make the dough, the dough chills, then you have time in between finishing the dough and putting them in the oven to clean up and zone out. Then you put them in the oven and you wait for them to bake; you watch them rise, and it smells so good.”

As Collins is the daughter of a famous musician, it should come as no surprise that she loves music, too. Collins cranks up the tunes while baking, and she particularly likes to listen to musical scores when she’s in self-care mode. “With the orchestral stuff, it doesn’t have any words, you’re just focusing on how the music makes you feel,” she said.

Embracing the awkward

Always forthright, Lily Collins is no stranger to speaking her mind. Some people might be alarmed by her frankness, but it’s become something of a trademark for the actress, albeit one that hasn’t always come easily. “I’ve never had a problem saying awkward things … to spark conversations,” she told Flare.

While she admitted that being in show business means it’s critical to maintain personal boundaries, she believes there is power in speaking her mind. “I think there were always those things that I was still battling with or thinking about that maybe I didn’t know how to vocalize and now vocalizing them has been so freeing and powerful because you realize that you can relate to so many more people and that they can relate to you,” she said. “It’s almost like I’ve gotten such a weight off my shoulders.”

Her hidden talent

Is there anything Lily Collins can’t do? It seems that the actress, model, and writer is blessed with several prodigious talents. One of her more surprising skills is one that she has kept largely under wraps. “I’m a good water skier,” she revealed to Momtastic. Collins started participating in the sport at the tender age of 4, and it’s something she grew up sharing with her music star dad.

“We’d go on a boat, and he taught me how to water ski,” she said. “And so, since then, I love water. I’m a Pisces so it’s natural that I love swimming and everything about water.”

Collins is pretty busy being an international superstar, though, so she doesn’t get a lot of time for her beloved hobby these days. But who knows? Maybe one of her upcoming roles will incorporate her talent and her fans will be able to see Collins in action!

She wants to inspire young women

Beyond creating art, Collins wants to inspire others, especially young women. She talked to Momtastic about her role in the Snow White retelling Mirror Mirror, in which she played the lead. Collins said that she was drawn to the script because of how empowered Snow White was. In the film, the character didn’t need a prince to save her. “That sense of female empowerment and confidence and self-esteem is something that I have always been a big advocate of promoting in young girls,” Collins said.

The actress added that playing Snow White was particularly compelling because the character derives her self-confidence from her strength, not from her beauty. “I think the fact that she is so unaware of how she looks, but she finds it within herself to love herself regardless, that’s the core of self-esteem and confidence building for young girls,” Collins stated. “So, I saw that the script had potential. I thought, ‘I would love to be a part of something that gives a message like that to young girls.'”

She's ready for a different kind of role

We’ve seen Lily Collins in a lot of serious roles. She’s portrayed a young woman with an eating disorder in To the Bone and appeared in the serial killer-centered film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, so no one can deny that Collins has some serious dramatic chops. But that doesn’t mean that Collins doesn’t have an incredible sense of humor. The actress has expressed an interest in taking on more comedic roles, so we might be seeing lighter fare from her quite soon.

“I love comedies,” she told Collider. “I love old school comedies, and new comedies. In order to appreciate the darker stories, it’s always nice to have the lighter.”

Comedy wouldn’t just broaden Collins’ acting resume, but it would also make for a nice change of pace for her from the emotionally taxing roles she typically takes on. “My friends hear about all of these filming experiences, where I’m off on these different locations, shooting these characters that have tragic stories, or that have tragedy but end in positivity,” she shared, “and they’re like, ‘Just do a film that we can go to, on a Saturday night, and watch and laugh about it.'”

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