My own parents were both immigrants who came to this country with very little money in their pockets. Their biggest investments were my sister and I, and they worked endless hours over the years to make sure the two of us were given the best kind of education we could afford.
As a result, we always took school extremely seriously. And we always knew this: Just because our parents didn’t have college degrees themselves didn’t mean we had any wiggle room to make our own decisions when it came to our academic futures. In fact, if it ever crossed either of our minds to skip college, I’m sure they’d wash our mouths out with soap. (“This is America,” they would say. “Getting a college degree is only the first step to the rest of your life.”)
But skipping high school? No freaking way could I ever get away with that.
I kept thinking of this today after catching wind of the latest Vanity Fair France issue, which features an interview with Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis’ daughter, Lily-Rose. The 16-year-old seems to be following in her famous parents’ footsteps, after securing both a modeling contract and several acting gigs. But she’s also following their lead in one other way, as well: Dropping out of high school.
“They were in no position to tell me, ‘Get your diploma first,'” Lily-Rose told the mag with a laugh, after noting that both her parents had already left school by her age.
I’m not even her mother, but as a parent, the undertones in that statement are not lost on me.
Technically, Lily-Rose may feel that she’s right, considering the success of her own parents, and the fact that she already has a deal with Chanel and a few French films under her belt. But I can’t help but hope that her parents don’t share the same mentality that school isn’t necessary at all, and have made more than just half-hearted attempts at getting her to obtain her high school diploma.
Of course, there’s a lot to be said for chasing your dreams and being ambitious; and unlike the rest of us, I’m sure Lily-Rose actually can get away with not having a high school diploma. But it’s hard to ignore the message this sends to other young and impressionable girls: that education is a choice you can easily opt out of. And it’s especially hard to ignore, considering how many girls are fighting in some parts of the world for the right to be educated at all.
If all goes well, Lily-Rose will likely follow same trajectory her parents did; but hopefully, somewhere in the middle of all of that, she’ll stop and realize that getting both a diploma and a degree can be a pretty powerful weapon to carry around, even in her line of work. Just ask Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson and so many other stars who’ve managed to hit the books and graduate from college.
But as for the rest of our kids, who weren’t born into Hollywood privilege, let’s hope they do themselves a favor and listen to their parents. Because yes, we do have every right to tell them to get an education — and they’ll thank us for it later.More On