Lily Cole: The British model and actress talks Picasso, Cambridge, and revolution

 

Long day?

Long month, long year, long life...

Ah, I'm sure it's not all that bad. This'll cheer you up. If you could own one artwork, what would it be?

My brain immediately jumps to Picasso. I'm sorry not to say something more obscure and exciting, but I think that he's such an amazing artist.

Do you get bored of the 'model who went to Cambridge' label?

I think it's somewhat reductive. It does speak to a stereotype of models. But ultimately it doesn't really bother me; I find it quite funny really.

So do models get a hard time?

Models, I've always said, are quite an interesting group of people, because it's one of the only jobs in the world where you don't choose that path. You get a really eclectic group of people who end up modelling. They just happen to have been spotted. So they're often very, very smart girls – one friend of mine wanted to be a dentist.

You must be asked to front a lot of charities. What was it about the Sky rainforest campaign that made you say yes?

I really like how they're approaching this huge problem of deforestation in an economic way: by looking at whether we can drive a market for wild rubber. I think that there's a real logic to the proposition.

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales is a supporter. Do you feel optimistic about the future that the web has made possible?

I think that, like anything in life, the internet's a tool which can be used for great good, or it can be used negatively. But it's so young; it's only 25 years old. That's younger than me. It has huge potential, which we've seen some of, in terms of offering an open, decentralised structure that can enable communications, relationships and connections that we've not had before. But it's not a given that it will be used that way. To quote Tim Berners-Lee, we have to campaign for the 'web we want'.

What about political revolution, à la Brand? Would you care to speculate on whether the web has made old-fashioned parliamentary democracy redundant?

He said some very poignant things that really resonated with me. But in general, I'm wary of the word revolution and the concept. I'm no expert, but I studied history and politics and I don't think there's ever been revolution that's come off positively. I like the idea of evolution, and while I do think there's need for change, it's by critiquing the status quo and thinking how can we improve this: that's the only way we're going to evolve.

Do you ever think about what you'd be doing now if you hadn't been spotted?

I think largely what I'm doing, actually. I always wanted to act, which I'm doing, and I always really cared about social issues, so I think that spirit would have had me doing something in charity or business or philanthropy.

Your other project, impossible.com, asks people to grant others' wishes. Genie-in-a-bottle scenario: what would your three wishes be?

I'd wish that our culture didn't make money such an obstacle and that we were all more cooperative as a species. I think that would make us all a lot happier. I'd wish for the environment that humans could innovate more quickly in terms of energy needs and consumption. And then I'd wish for the health of my mum and my family.

Biography

Lily Cole, 26, is a model and actress. Initially resisting a career in modelling as she felt it “wouldn’t come to much”, she signed with Storm Models and was heralded as one of 2003’s faces of the year. In 2011, she graduated from Cambridge University with a Double First in History of Art. She has designed a Veja footwear collection, using wild rubber, for Sky Rainforest Rescue, which is on sale now

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all