full name Mava May Szalinski age + birthdate 21 + March 30, 1993 birthplace Guanajuato, Mexico raised in San Francisco, California current residence Greenwich Village, New York occupation Writer, editor, actress-ish family Elliot Szalinski (director) miscellaneous Single, Jewish, Aries


Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you know Mava Szalinski and her story: born in Mexico the same year her father's film Dazed and Confused was released, the beginning of an eclectic cultural maven in the making. At just 11 years old, Szalinski created her own fashion website Style Rookie and began blogging about fashion in a way the industry had yet to see; in middle school, she was invited to fashion week in Paris and New York, sitting front row for couture shows as a VIP. At 17 years old, she spun-off Style Rookie to include some of her newer interests: music, film, politics, feminism, beauty, and debate to create an all-around pop culture hub for teenage girls, appropriately monikered Rookie Magazine. Yet this, the rise of a new kind of internet mogul, was not enough to satisfy voracious Szalinski.

Though she still doesn't consider herself an actual actress - "Maybe in a year or so I will" - Szalinski is part of arguably the hottest film of the year, her father's own Boyhood. This, combined with a recent upheaval to New York City, an acclaimed stint on Broadway, a new hardcopy edition of Rookie, a hot new superhero role in DC's upcoming Suicide Squad, and her continued appearances on everybody's Twitter feeds has solidified Mava Szalinski as an actual something - there just might not yet be a word for it. Following the closing of Broadway's This Is Our Youth, I spoke with Szalinski (who, full disclosure, was my boss for a time back when I wrote for Rookie) during a dress fitting for the Golden Globes in Los Angeles, where Boyhood nabbed 3 awards, the most of any that night.

Mava! Sorry if I'm nerding out right now, it's so exciting to see you so fancy.
Oh my god, no, it's so weird. I'm glad you're here, it'd be really weird if I was doing this by myself.

Does that mean you're not used to all of this yet? Award shows, interviews...
...fancy dresses! But no, definitely not award shows. It's weird. My dad isn't used to them either, though, and he's been to a lot more of them, so I think it's hereditary. Interviews I'm definitely used to, I like interviews. Talking is fun, right? Conversation is everything.

It doesn't surprise me that you're used to interviews. I had to do research on you, and I couldn't believe there are actual serious YouTube videos of you as an 11 year old, and you did TED Talks as a teenager. Is it weird for you that it's all online?
Kind of. I think it's a cool part of being in this generation, though, having your entire life archived on the internet. Even people who haven't done a TED Talk still have their Facebook and Twitter accounts archiving everything they've taken part in, and that's really interesting to me. It's kind of a double-edged sword, at least for me, because I'm sure some of my really bad writing exists out there, whether it's on Rookie or when somebody let me write for their magazine when I was 12, and I'll probably cringe when I read it, but it's still cool that it's out there. And I try not to cringe too hard at stepping stones, you know, writing something bad when I was 12 is how I got to the point I'm at now.

Speaking of writing, I loved Rookie's January Editor letter. You talked a lot about expectations. Is that something that's resonating with you right now?
Definitely. Like you said, having a dress fitting for an award show is quite strange. Going to places and having my picture taken on such a large scale isn't something I'm used to. I was always in smaller ponds, whether it was a fashion pond or a pop culture pond, all the places I'm used to are much smaller. Even the internet is smaller than Hollywood! My dad always makes fun of me because whenever we're at this stuff together I'll be on my phone, writing something or collaborating with someone. His daughter can't wait to go home and get back on the internet.

How has it been going through this entire experience alongside your dad?
Great, really great. We've always been close, so it's just one more thing we get to do together. I definitely wouldn't have been able to do it without him. Everybody always asks me if it was weird to be directed by my dad for twelve years, and that question seems so off base. I think it'd be weird if he wasn't my dad! I don't know how Ellar did it.

This wasn't the first movie your dad directed you in, either.
Yeah, exactly. Any time I did a movie it was because my dad was directing. The first thing I did without him I was sixteen, I think? And that was just voice acting. I didn't do my first live action film with another director until I was twenty, and I've only done two.

Is that why you don't consider yourself an actual actress?
Yeah, definitely. Plus, none of the movies I've done yet have actually felt like work. It's all just felt like playtime. I think my next one [David Ayer's Suicice Squad] will be the first thing I've ever done that felt professional. So until I've completed that, calling myself an actress feels premature.

We have to talk about Suicide Squad. It's so exciting.
It is! I'm so excited. I'm nervous, so I don't know what to say about it. Plus, there's a lot I'm not allowed to say. There's a lot of intrigue, which is new for me. They might have hired the wrong girl if they're aiming for mystique and secrecy.

Have you found yourself having trouble balancing Rookie with your new obligations?
Not at all. High School was the hardest time for Rookie, for me. Being in High School is so demanding, there's so much you have to do and I feel like it's literally designed to be a time waster for teenagers. I think everybody should have to go, for sure, but doing Rookie while in High School and now doing Rookie outside of it, I feel like I'll never be overwhelmed. It's so much easier to prioritize and time manage now.

I bet it helps that Rookie is still doing 3 posts a day. I always loved that.
Thank you! And I love that too. I feel like a lot of websites are so driven for quantity over quality, they want as many clicks and as much change as possible. You get so inundated with content that at a certain point it becomes useless. I never wanted that. I mean, we originally started with 3 posts a day because we were in school and we told our parents, like, "It's 3 posts a day, we can just do it after school," and it made them feel okay about it, but 3 posts a day just works.

Have you found that the site has changed as you've changed?
Yes and no. I think change is inevitable, and I think the Yearbooks [Rookie's print magazines] are probably more of an indicator of me than I'd like for them to be, but I do the think the site is always going to be a reflection of the people who contribute. I read everything that goes onto the site, and not everything is always something that I like or agree with or is my aesthetic, but the site isn't about me, so it goes through. As long as it's representing somebody's point of view, it's valid. But I definitely think my interests are reflected, too. Moving to New York has been a big factor.

How so?
Well, I think my whole aesthetic changed. I was never a stereotypical California girl, but I had the mark of someone who grew up in the Bay Area. And now I don't anymore. My dad says I'm totally New York now - he means it as an insult, but I take it as a compliment. New York is just different, your priorities are different. When I get up in the morning and get dressed, I think about how I'm going to be dressed based on where I'm going, I want my style to reflect the mood and the activity. I've kind of become really wrapped up in cohesiveness. I have a playlist for everything, a makeup palette for everything, a pair of glasses for everything. I like everything to feel cohesive.

Do you think that has to do with being an adult now?
Definitely. Even though my dad was never the type to pick anything out for me, I lived a very free-spirited life because he's an extremely laidback person. I never really had any kind of structure aside from going to school. He had rules, obviously, but he let me have a blog when I was 11 and let me go to fashion week at 12 and was very encouraging of my creativity and self-exploration. When I wanted to dye my hair pink, he was like, "Yeah! Let's do it right now!" and that was it. So now that I'm an adult I like having some self-imposed structure. The creativity is still important, and I'd probably still dye my hair pink if I wanted to, but doing everything for myself has shown me how nice it can be to have a routine.

One last question: you're a multi-hyphenate and probably something like an infinite threat because you write, edit, publish, do movies, do broadway, do voice acting, have popular social media accounts, consult with other writers, contribute content elsewhere, etc. How would you define your profession if asked to do so succinctly?
Part of me would want to say "artist" but I feel like that sounds so contrived, I don't think an artist would ever call themselves an artist. If I had to pick one, I'd probably pick writer, first and foremost. I write every day. I write probably five times every day. My coat closet in my apartment is filled with notebooks instead of coats. So I guess there isn't really a title for what I do, huh? Pop culture enthusiast. Conversationalist. I'm just a sponge, I want to do everything. Let's use that. Mava Szalinski: Professional Sponge.