Who Is Petra Collins?

Peggy Truong
Photo credit: Getty

From Cosmopolitan

Photo credit: Getty

Petra Collins has already made a name for herself in the art and photography world. At 25, she’s released three photo books, held several exhibitions at major museums, directed music videos, and even starred in four episodes of Transparent. These days, she’s in the headlines for very different reasons. According to The Daily Mail, Collins is dating the recently single Justin Theroux. And just days earlier, Collins made the news when BFF Selena Gomez suddenly stopped following her on Instagram. How are the two events related? And will the two ever collaborate again? Until these great mysteries are solved, here’s a cheat sheet on Collins for your reference.

1. Collins grew up in Toronto. Her father, a former criminal lawyer, is British-Canadian and her mother is a Hungarian refugee. In 2017, she put on the exhibition Pacifier, her first solo show on home turf, which features photographs of her parents, sister, cousins, and friends taken in both Toronto and Budapest, where her relatives live. “For me, home isn’t like a place; it’s more the people that I’m with,” she told the Toronto Star.

Photo credit: Getty

2. She struggled with mental health issues early on; it’s something she’s openly discussed over the years. In her 2016 portrait series, “24 Hour Psycho,” Collins photographed several women up close while in moments of emotional distress. “My mother struggled immensely with mental illness and so did I,” she told Dazed Digital. “She grew up bipolar, but it was never diagnosed nor recognized. It was shrugged off like a ‘symptom’ of being female – of her being weak. I also experienced this growing up: I felt that the great pain I experienced was a dramatization.” In 2017, Collins also penned an essay about those struggles in her third photo book, Coming of Age, alongside childhood images of her family.

3. She was forced to give up dancing after dislocating her knee at age 14. “As a young girl, you already have so many insecurities about your body, but to physically not be able to do something you love and that you think you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life . . . was so scary for me,” she told the Toronto Star in 2017. “It really changed a lot.”

4. Four years later, she flunked her senior year of high school, but it later turned out to be a blessing. After enrolling in an alternative school, she was encouraged by her arts teacher to really give photography a go and later, to reach out to Rookie magazine. She was made staff photographer not long after. Collins and Rookie founder Tavi Gevinson have remained close friends since.