NO FILTER NEEDED
Lily Collins on her new autobiography
You know Lily Collins for her hit films, super-famous father and on-fleek brows, but in her brand new memoir, Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me, she reveals sides of herself we’ve never seen. Phoebe Watt gets the low-down from the actor-slash-writer
Firstly, congratulations on the launch of your debut book! What can you tell us about the process of writing it?
I started it in January 2016 and finished in the summer, so it took about eight months. But as it discusses a lot of my childhood experiences, you could say I’ve been thinking about it my whole life. I ended up working on it all over the world on different movie sets which was a challenge, but I think it benefited my writing in the end.
In the book you disclose a lot about your life and the dark experiences you’ve been through, from abusive relationships and encounters with addiction, to familial dysfunction and your battle with eating disorders. How did you navigate this subject matter as far as deciding how much to share?
I was slightly apprehensive, but ultimately these aspects of my life are part of my journey and what makes me, me. I have grown to better understand them and have no shame in what they’ve taught me. I hope that sharing these experiences enables other young women to start conversations about things that are considered taboo.
Is there anything you regret mentioning? no shame, no regrets. No. As my title says:
What gave you the motivation and strength to be so generous and open-hearted with your readers?
To be honest, the readers themselves. They are such a supportive, empowering, encouraging community and have always been so incredibly brave in sharing their insecurities, stories, and experiences. This was my way of joining in on the conversation.
What has been the response to the book from those people closest to you?
I think it’s inevitable that certain chapters are harder to read than others, but I know that my family and friends are incredibly proud of me for being so open and honest. They have always supported me in my endeavours and this is no different.
Given your personal experience of eating disorders, playing a character with anorexia in the film To the Bone must have been tough. You touch on this in your book, but why was it important to you, both personally and professionally, to accept this role? Eating disorders have long been part of my
story but they don’t define who I am. Doing To the Bone was an incredible way to face my demons head-on. Ironically I had written the chapter about [my eating disorder experience] the week before receiving the script, and I just knew it was the universe’s way of telling me I needed to open up, be more honest with both myself and the world, and truly move forward. It was an absolute blessing being part of something so powerful and important. I was reminded that we’re never alone in our struggles and asking for help is never a weakness.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration in life? My mum is my biggest inspiration and best friend. She never ceases to amaze me. I admire her passion and strength so much and hope one day I am even half the woman, and mother, that she is.
In the chapter about your mum, you talk about travelling together and how the constant exposure to different societies and cultures was a really formative experience for you. What’s
the most eye-opening place you ever visited? Travelling to Egypt and seeing King Tut’s tomb, climbing the pyramids, and visiting the Sphinx was beyond memorable. It was so different from anything I’d ever seen, so experiencing the culture there and fully immersing ourselves in our surroundings was utterly magical.
Before your acting career took off, you were studying journalism at university and contributing to publications like Elle Girl UK,
Seventeen and Teen Vogue. What made you choose acting over writing, and is journalism something you see yourself ever going
back to? I always want to give 110% in whatever I do, so there came a point when I had to focus more on one [career path] in order to advance and grow in that particular field. I started booking films and my time became limited, but I don’t see it as choosing one over the other; more putting one on the back burner. I’ll never lose my curiosity or passion for meeting people, and I think it’s completely possible to both act and write. After all, I wrote this book while filming three different projects! Now that you have one book under your belt, do you have plans for another? Perhaps a work of fiction, or a screenplay? I’d love to write a screenplay one day! Maybe I’ll even direct it. And finally… you talk about some life-changing chocolate chip quinoa cookies in your book. Any chance you can give us the recipe?! Haha, I’m more than happy to share the results but for now, I think I’ll keep the recipe to myself. Who knows, maybe a cookbook is in my future!