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
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: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?