Lilia Buckingham: A Positive Influence
By Oorie Garabedian
Although only 17 years old, Lilia Buckingham has been around for a long time — and she’s sticking around. Lilia has been dancing, singing and acting since before kindergarten and the list has only grown since then. She is a lead in the Brat TV series Crown Lake and has a strong social media presence, while advocating for positive social media use through the organization Positively Social, which she co-founded with friends. Lilia is publishing Influence next year, a book co-written by Pretty Little Liars writer Sara Shepard. It may be a little difficult to keep up with all that Lilia Buckingham is doing, so read on to get better acquainted with her, her work, and her motivation!
Before acting, you were a competitive dancer. What motivated you to begin a dancing career? / What was it like balancing a “normal” young adult life and working in such a competitive field?
Compared to a lot of other dancers I actually started dancing pretty late, at age 9. But by the time I did, I was really passionate about it and so it didn’t seem strange to devote 20+ hours a week to it. I loved being at the studio, I loved my teachers and I loved how I felt dancing. But somewhere along the way it became more about winning then performing and that took a lot of the joy out of it for me which is why I took a break from it. I would always rather compete against myself than someone else. I just want to keep doing the best I can. Also my education has always been a priority for me so while I loved putting my time and energy into dance, I always knew that focusing on schoolwork was the priority.
Share with us the moment you knew you wanted to begin an acting career.
Um, birth? I have always loved to act and had been doing musical theatre from about age 3 or 4. I was always the kid who loved being on stage, dancing, singing and acting. I did a few small professional things when I was young but then really fell in love with dancing and really focused on that..And my parents didn’t want me to start doing professional acting until I was older. At first I thought that the acting I was doing with Brat would be more of an “extracurricular” but as I started working on more projects, and I realized how truly passionate I was about it, my parents understood and let me begin to focus on it more.
You have so many projects going on right now, including a book release, an anti-bullying organization, and a popular web series. What inspired you to create each project?
I always loved writing, and like dancing, it’s a great way to release your creativity. I actually had written another book before Influence, so for me it’s about putting something out there when I have something to say. Same thing with acting or producing or directing. Other people express themselves in different ways, mine is just more “public”. With Positively Social, honestly I’m a pretty normal teenager, and my friends and I – well known or not, have all been really hurt by things said online, and I feel like it’s really important for me to use whatever voice I have to try to do some good in the world.
Tell us a little bit about the book.
I am so excited to have people read it!! It’s told from the point of view of 4 different teenage girls who are all different kinds of Influencers (actors, etc) and it really gives you a peek behind the scenes of what it’s like to have one persona online versus your reality and the fun and pressures of it. It is the story of 4 teenage friends …one gets killed…and the book is trying to figure out who and why…But like I mentioned before, it also goes into all the “behind the scenes” of life as an Influencer and life in LA.
What was the process of writing the book with Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard? / What are some lessons you learned from her?
I couldn’t be more grateful than I am to have worked with Sara. She is AMAZING! I’ve always been a big reader and LOVED all of Sara’s books. So I was majorly star struck when I first met her. I told her my initial idea and we worked on the characters, the plot and the idea. We brought that to a publisher and they liked it so then we were set about writing, we would each write parts and then trade. I learned so so much from Sara. Maybe the biggest lessons were that outlining is KEY and no matter whether you’re a bestselling author or a high school junior, you ALWAYS have to write, rewrite and edit. NO ONE gets it perfect out of the gate.
What is a day in the life of Lilia Buckingham like?
I think one of the biggest changes in my life is that there doesn’t seem to be a typical day. I try to get all of my schoolwork done from 9-1 if I’m not filming or have a work commitment. Then I usually have some sort of class – dancing, acting, training. And if there is time, I try to see friends. One of the reasons we like going to events is that they are like our school cafeteria. That’s where we get to say hi, catch up and so on. And yes, I have to say there is a lot of time on my phone or watching Netflix!
What do you feel has been the biggest impact of Positively Social?
It has been so great to hear people’s stories about how Positively Social has helped them. Sometimes it’s just knowing they aren’t alone and that we all share these experiences and feelings. Sometimes it’s hearing that they started their own Positively Social clubs and it helped people around them.
Share with us a moment in your life that had a deep impact on your person. / What changed/evolved in you from that point on?
I guess I would say my parents splitting up. I know it sounds cliche because so many people go through it. But it was a pretty big shock because they had always seemed really happy. It definitely changed our lives a lot and it forced me to be a lot more independent. It was also probably the first time that I saw my parents as people and not just my parents. It definitely made me more skeptical about relationships. I have a lot of friends whose parents are divorced but when your whole family situation gets shifted it really changes everything.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
I have a few but really the one I am most excited about is the book coming out. I just can’t wait for people to read it and see what they think. I’m also super excited about an acting project I am doing but I am not allowed to talk about it yet 🙂
Photographer TIJANA VUKOVIC @_tijanavukovic_
Creative Direction ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC @alekandtseph
Videographer AUSTIN BAUMAN @austinmbauman
Styling LO VONRUMPF @stylelvr
Hair KILEY FITZGERALD @bykileyfitz
Makeup NICOLE WALMSLEY @nicolewalmsley
Production @BELLOMediagroup x @Maisonpriveepr_la x @bonnetalex18
Special Thanks to Marina @_bohemian_chic_