a model life
She has a career as varied
as it is accomplished, but what really powers Lily Cole through her
world? The model-turned-actress and entrepreneur reveals all, courtesy
of DYSON SUPERSONIC
midway into conversation with Lily Cole – former model, actress, social entrepreneur, writer, director (the list goes on) – she mentions a famous quote by playwright Samuel Beckett: ‘Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ It’s an apt reference for someone who, on paper at least, seems to have no fear – of failure or anything else.
She laughs. ‘I generally try not to be limited by fear. I mean, there are some types of fear you definitely have to avoid – don’t jump in a fire, right? – but emotional fear; fear of doing something that’s challenging? If I’m scared of it, it almost makes me think I should do it, because I know I’m only going to overcome that fear by trying.’
Which brings us neatly to that quote: Cole’s point being that ‘if you don’t see [failure] as an end but as part of the process it should help you grow’.
As you’ve likely gathered, Cole has a wise head for one of her relatively tender years. At just 29, she has already tried, achieved (Tried again. Achieved better), more than many do in a lifetime. What drives her to follow new paths?
‘It’s a mix of things,’ she says after a pause, noting that she’s been ‘fortunate enough to have lots of opportunities in my life’. That said, ‘Some decisions have been easy, some harder. To go back to university was a hard one.’ (After deferring for two years Cole famously turned her back on an ascendant film career to attend King’s College, Cambridge in 2008). ‘But again, it felt like a really powerful opportunity that I would learn a lot from, even if I didn’t quite know what at the time. One thing just leads to another.’
There is no primary passion, Cole notes when asked about the breadth and variety of her CV. For her it’s more about being able to explore her creativity, wherever that might take her. Among the many projects she continues to juggle, from Impossible.com — the social impact tech company she established in 2014 to encourage a gift-economy culture — to her most recent film role in indie flick Orion, Cole is now also trying her hand at screenwriting.
‘I might not do anything with them,’ she caveats quickly of her scripts-in-waiting. ‘I’ve never written a screenplay before and I might decide I’m better off to leave that job to other people.’ She laughs, but based on previous form, it’s probably only a matter of time. Onwards and upwards!
‘I try not to be limited by fear. If I’m scared of it, it makes me think I should do it because I’m only going
to overcome that by trying’
ELLE and Dyson
Supersonic™ spent a day with Lily in her native London. Watch the video at elleuk.com/
The DYSON SUPERSONIC™ hairdryer (£299.99) was fêted as a gamechanger upon release last year. Find out more and
shop it at