Phoebe Tonkin had just turned 30 when we spoke on a sweltering hot July day. While this could incite panic in those who fear the dreaded three-oh, Tonkin couldn’t be more excited to enter into this new chapter.
The actress spent her 20s building quite a name for herself in both the U.S. and her homeland of Australia. Having first burst onto the scene in the Australian sitcom H2O: Just Add Water, she gained widespread fame when she landed the role of Hayley on Vampire Diaries, which, in turn, led to a starring role in the spinoff series The Originals. Her latest venture sees her back on Australian television in the drama Bloom. Adding to her roster of acting accomplishments, she’s also been a Chanel ambassador for the last three years.
These successes have garnered her a massive following on social media. Boasting 5.2 million followers on Instagram, Tonkin is ever aware of the influence she has online. She tries to use her social media as a way to call her fans to action, with posts supporting campaigns to save the whales and eliminate the use of plastic water bottles, and, most recently, advocating for gun control in the U.S.
“It just felt very organic to share those things and hopefully inspire other people to educate themselves and use their voice,” Tonkin says. “Just because they don’t necessarily have as big of a platform as I do doesn’t mean they don’t have influence.”
The environment and the protection of marine life are of particular importance to her. This interest in sustainability was one of the many reasons she was drawn to Chanel as a brand. “What a lot of people don’t know [about] Chanel is that it has very discreetly done so much for the arts, as well as the environment,” Tonkin explains. “They’re working on more sustainable choices, which I love.”
Despite being an ambassador for Chanel for only three years, her love of the brand has been ongoing for over a decade. She received her first Chanel piece from her mother on her 18th birthday—a black leather handbag she owns to this day. When she was eventually asked to work with the brand, Tonkin jumped at the opportunity, describing the Chanel team as being a very tight-knit group. “I’ve been really lucky to be a part of this family,” Tonkin shares.
Shooting Chanel’s 2020 Cruise collection in Saint-Tropez was an incredibly special experience for Tonkin, who never ceases to be amazed by the exciting places her career takes her. The dreamy collection will be available at Chanel’s new boutique in Montreal, designed by famed retail architect Peter Marino, and set to open this fall.
As for what’s ahead for Tonkin, she is taking a stab at a different role in film. Currently, in the post-production phase, a film she directed herself will be her first venture in filmmaking outside of acting and writing. “Hopefully it isn’t my last,” Tonkin says. “I’d love to do it more and more—hopefully next time on a bigger scale.”
This past decade of hard work has been one of learning and changing, according to Tonkin—moving from home and taking on new experiences have shaped who she is and what she now knows. “Turning 30, I feel like everything has settled into place,” she reflects.