In celebration of their 20th Anniversary issue, Kellie Hush asked my dear, talented, sound-and-screen-slashie friend Sophie Lowe and I to shoot each other while fleshing out everybody’s favourite dirty word: “Millenials” – and all the assumptions that come with it.

1. The Millennial prefers experiences to material things.

Margaret Zhang: I think everybody I know our age travels so much you don’t think twice about buying a $2000 flight, but when you have to buy a $1200 laptop, you’re like, Do I need one?

Sophie Lowe: Right. And it’s like, I’ll just get Ubers instead of buying a car. I also don’t know that many people who have their own place these days, but I don’t know if that’s just because Australia is so expensive that it’s kind of rare for someone to own their own house. I feel like there used to be more of a sense of I can’t wait to own my own house, whereas now everyone’s like, I can’t wait to travel.

Zhang: I guess that’s why middle-man businesses are so big — the ones that don’t actually own anything. Uber doesn’t own any cars, Airbnb doesn’t own any houses — it’s like a renters’ market. People pay for a service. For now. For the convenience.

Lowe: Because no one is patient — they just want to go, go, go.

2 . … lives through social media.

Zhang: I have definitely had to really catch myself over the past few years and try not to live my life through my phone — in the same way that you want to capture everything because you have all these experiences and then you kind of go too far and have to remind yourself there will actually be another sunset tomorrow.

 

Lowe: Yeah, that’s true. But then there was this one time I did [forego my phone], and I was proud of myself, but then regretted it later. It was at a Beyoncé concert and I wanted to just be in the moment and soak it all up, but at the same time she was right in front of me, and later I thought, Why didn’t I capture this moment? I guess I have the memory. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Zhang: I totally understand that panic when you think, I should take a photo because then I can show people I did this.

Lowe: … so people believe me that I was there.

3 …. lives in the now.

Zhang: I think it’s uncool to have a life plan — not in a ’trend’ way. It’s just people have realised the planning that maybe your parents did — the prescribed life — maybe that doesn’t work anymore.

Lowe: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of We’ll deal with it when it happens. Personally, I love planning, I love having a goal, and I have been lucky because I have found what I want to do — I want to act for my whole life — and some people don’t get to find out what they want to do for ages. They really struggle with that. Or is it because they are Millennials and get bored quickly?

Zhang: Maybe. I mean, there are just so many options. I read somewhere that Millennials will change their careers seven times in their lifetime and, well, they can and it’s fine. I think the biggest hurdle I overcame in the past two years is understanding that doing something different doesn’t mean you have failed at the previous thing, and it’s not a bad thing that you are moving onto something new. It just means it’s a new chapter.

Lowe: Yeah, it’s like you are constantly growing and changing.

 

They have always been very supportive of my career. Now I am older, they are trying to do what they want to do and I am supporting them, so there is this switch. They have helped me become the person I want to be, career-wise, but then now they are starting their own business and I’m like, ’You guys can do this. You are special — you can do whatever you want!’

6 . … never leaves the family home.

Zhang: I feel like this is quite specific to Sydney or just cities where it’s expensive for young people to live. I mean, I think it changes depending on where you are from and also the culture of where you are from. So, for example, we don’t have that culture in Australia compared to the US, where kids just leave to go to college — it’s just totally normal for you to go to the other side of the country when you are 17 there, whereas here, people do move interstate for university, but I don’t think there is as intense a college culture, and people just, like, go to the university in their city and that’s totally fine. And why wouldn’t you live at home? It’s so bloody expensive, and how are you supposed to focus on your studies, work a part-time job and pay rent that eats all your money? I mean, take the path of least resistance, people. And even now, I stay with my parents whenever I’m back in Sydney.

Lowe: Same.

Zhang: Because it would almost seem rude and selfish not to.

Lowe: Yeah, because we both live in America, it would be kind of rude to say, “Hey, I’m here, but I’m not going to stay with you.”

 

Trust nobody who does not like

Keanu Reeves or avocado on toast.”

 

Zhang: Trust nobody who does not like Keanu Reeves or avocado on toast.

Lowe: Totally. If you don’t like Keanu Reeves, something’s up.

Zhang: He’s just so likeable.

Lowe: So lovely.

Zhang: So is avocado toast. Avocado anything.

Lowe: It’s rare I go a day without some avocado somewhere.

Zhang: There’s definitely plenty of other foods that became popular because of social media. I feel like juice cleanses had a moment, açai bowls, kale …

Lowe: Goji berries …

Zhang: My friend’s grandmother calls kale “war lettuce”. She was like, “Nobody wanted to eat that. We only ate it during the war, because we had to,” and I was like, “Well, everyone’s massaging it in olive oil now.”

 

9 …. is politically aware.

Zhang: I think so. But my huge frustration this year has been this social-media activism idea of, you know, Oh, I went to a protest, I went to a march, let me lnstagram that I was there.

Lowe: Yeah, it’s that thing of just going [in order to] post a picture on your ’gram so it looks like it’s important to you. I mean, maybe it is, but you can do things behind the scenes that actually help.

Zhang: Exactly. And just because you don’t post something, it doesn’t mean you don’t care about slavery in Libya or women’s rights, because that’s also a slippery slope — if I post about the refugee crisis, does that mean that I don’t also care about coral bleaching?

Lowe: If you care about it, you do something about it.

Zhang: And you don’t have to do something publicly — it’s totally acceptable to quietly donate money to a cause you care about or to volunteer.

 

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About

Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese director, photographer, stylist and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Margaret has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, UNIQLO, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Margaret’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NYLON, Marie Claire, GRAZIA and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for the past four consecutive years. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim.

For project enquiries Tess.Stillwell@img.com
General enquiries bookings@margaretzhang.com.au