It was around the age of 11 that something clicked in Phoebe Tonkin, Australian actor, model and bona fide superstar in the eyes of anyone under 30. Shy and withdrawn, she nonetheless had her sights set on becoming a journalist when she grew up.
But, somewhat ironically, there was something about the stage that allured her. Already trained as a dancer, taking classes from the age of four, it was now the world of drama that drew her interest with courses at Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) in her Sydney hometown.
“I never wanted to be an actor,” Tonkin tells Stellar. “I just wanted to tell stories.” Even today, she says, “If there is any outlet where I can do that, then I will find any way to be creative.”
Take her Instagram account, where the actor and activist – she is a passionate feminist and staunch environmentalist – shares with her 5.4 million followers as many photographs of herself and her friends as she does news and updates about the causes that matter to her most.
“When you look at Instagram as a platform to reach people, it’s a little like having a newspaper,” she explains. “I use the opportunity to share information or direct people to some charity or organisation. It would feel very strange to have that level of responsibility and not use it for a good purpose.”
Tonkin’s acting career took off just a few years after she enrolled in those ATYP courses. When she was 15, she landed a lead role in Network 10’s mermaid fantasy series H20: Just Add Water and that ultimately proved to be a springboard for her move to the United States, where she starred in teenage TV drama The Vampire Diaries and its spin-off, The Originals.