Milana Vayntrub has appeared in most of our living rooms, but many of us probably never knew her name until now. However, it seems that there’s more to the actress than her portrayal of an enthusiastic store worker. So, here’s everything you never knew about the AT&T girl.
Vayntrub first rose to fame starring as Lily Adams in the AT&T commercials. In the series of television ads for the American telecommunications company, the actress plays a spunky store manager who is always at hand to answer customers’ questions.
Originally, Vayntrub was only hired to star in one such commercial. However, thanks to the popularity of the actress’ humorous approach to the role, she wound up appearing in more than forty – becoming a regular feature in most people’s living rooms in the process.
However, despite appearing in the commercials since 2013, many television fans knew Vayntrub only as Lily Adams. However, in real life, the actress was much more than the nerdy-yet-charming character she portrays.
Vayntrub was born in what is now Uzbekistan, in 1987. However, when she was just two years old, she and her family emigrated to the United States in order to flee the religious persecution that they were receiving as Jews in the Soviet Union. As a result, the rising star grew up in Los Angeles, California.
Recalling those early years of her life, in 2016 Vayntrub told NBC News, “There was a lot of discrimination against the Jews at that time,” she said. “Both my parents were born there but we were considered outsiders. We had some family in LA who offered to help us get there. So when they got the chance to leave, my parents took it.”
As a child, Vayntrub was drawn to the spotlight at a very young age. She starred in some Barbie commercials when she was just five years old, partially as a response to the financial problems her family were experiencing at the time.
However, the acting bug never left Vayntrub. After graduating from the University of California with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, she joined the Upright Citizens Brigade – an improvisational comedy group – where she no doubt honed her impeccable comic timing.
From there, Vayntrub established a comedy YouTube channel called Live Prude Girls alongside Stevie Nelson. On the channel, the women chatted to a number of guests, including actors Matt Damon and Bob Odenkirk, for a series called Let’s Talk About Something More Interesting.
The show was quite successful during its run, earning Live Prude Girls a mention in NewMediaRockstars’ Top 100 Channels countdown in 2014. However, Vayntrub and Nelson haven’t posted on the channel since 2013, around about the time Vayntrub found fame with her AT&T job.
But Lily Adams isn’t the only role that Vayntrub has gotten her teeth into. She has enjoyed a number of small television and film roles, including appearances in the TV show Silicon Valley and the comedy movie Life Happens.
Outside of acting, Vayntrub became interested in philanthropy after a trip to Greece in 2016. It was then that the actress saw Syrian refugees landing on the island of Lesbos, as thousands of them escaped the civil war in their country by the boatload.
Vayntrub was so moved by what she saw that she decided to cancel her flight back to the U.S. and do something to help. Explaining why she never left, the actress later said, “I didn’t know what I could do, but I knew I couldn’t sit idly by. I do know what it’s like to be an outsider.”
Alongside entrepreneur Eron Zehavi, the actress later founded #CantDoNothing. They designed the campaign to help people to give their time and money to effect change, in crises like the one facing Syrian refugees.
Through the campaign, Vayntrub has helped to raise thousands of dollars in aid of refugee relief organizations such as The Syria Fund. This non-profit organisation helps individuals and families that have been displaced by the Syrian Civil War to restore some normalcy to their lives.
To achieve this, The Syria Fund provides emergency aid and educational programs for refugees near the Jordanian cities of Azraq and Mafraq. And according to the organization’s executive director Lexi Shereshewsky, Vayntrub’s fundraising “[has] been a tremendous help.”
However, not everyone has been so praising of Vayntrub’s humanitarian work. The actress revealed that after Donald Trump became president in 2017, some of his supporters got in touch to tell her they were unhappy with her work with refugees.
Commenting on the backlash she had faced, Vayntrub later told NBC News, “If this election has shown us anything it’s that this country is divided into two groups that don’t understand each other.” She added, “I think a lot of Americans forget that they are not originally from here, that somebody in their past was a refugee.”
But while Vayntrub now dedicates part of her life to helping others, she hasn’t turned her back on acting entirely. In 2017 it was announced the actress would play Squirrel Girl in Marvel’s New Warriors on Disney’s Freeform network. The new role would give Vayntrub even more exposure, especially among younger viewers.
However, fame isn’t particularly important to Vayntrub, particularly when it comes to the people she helps. “Refugees don’t know the AT&T girl,” she said. “It’s not a part of their reality. It’s a totally different world.”