Baz Luhrmann’s daughter reveals secret celebrity lifestyles
SHE'S the daughter of Hollywood royalty and first to admit hers is not a "white-picket-fence family", yet for all the flamboyance of her bohemian upbringing, Lilly Luhrmann is unexpectedly grounded.
And at just 16, she is already impacting the world in her own special way.
Not for her the auteur filmmaking of her father Baz Luhrmann, or the Academy Award-winning costume and set design of her mother Catherine Martin.
Lilly wants to be a nurse, work in public health and change America's "flawed" medical system.
But first, she's reaching out to Queensland's international students hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with an ambitious donation project that brings together government, big business and grassroots giving.
"I've grown up always around a lot of different people, mine is not a white-picket-fence family, we don't try to be the perfect little family, and they've taught me you can't sit back and watch the world pass you by," Lilly says.
"My parents are very artistic, and we have different passions, but we definitely share the same desire to leave a mark through our work."
The plucky teen has been based on the Gold Coast for 10 months after joining her father last year ahead of his filming of the highly anticipated biopic Elvis, starring Tom Hanks.
COVID-19 intervened, Hanks got the virus and production was shut down in March - so too were Lilly's travel plans.
She was supposed to be back in New York by now - in the family's stunning five-storey townhouse in fashionable Gramercy Park - but Lilly isn't lazing by the pool sipping mocktails.
She's busy juggling homeschooling with the Study Queensland Luhrmann Appeal she launched in late May. Lilly came up with the idea after reading about the plight of international university students ineligible for the Federal Government's JobKeeper or JobSeeker assistance.
"They are young kids like me but they don't have essential goods and their living circumstances are quite shaky," she says.
"Many have lost their part-time jobs and can't afford to fly home so they're stranded, without family, and that's unfair.
"They need laptops, meal vouchers, Go Cards, blankets, internet data packages, even tax advice," she says of the appeal, which partners with the State Government's international education and training arm, the charity platform GIVIT, and the volunteer Care Army.
"I have a lot of privilege, and I want to use it to help others who are not so lucky; I prefer to share what I have for the greater good than to be selfish."
When we meet in Brisbane's New Farm Park, Lilly is on a tight schedule.
She is due to catch up with South American students at the Gold Coast Student Hub in Southport and find out what exactly they need. (Brazil and Colombia are fast-growing markets for Queensland's $5.6 billion international education sector, eclipsed only by China and India.)
Right now, though, Lilly is fully present, disarmingly down-to-earth, and beautifully mannered.
She's brought three outfits for our photo shoot, one a Prada black tulle dress with floral embroideries that belongs to her mother.
Instead of the silk slip it comes with, Lilly is layering it over a crop top and short leggings, except she's not sure she is wearing the dress the right way around.
She calls her mum to check, gets her voicemail, so FaceTimes her dad, who gently tells her to use her intuition to style it the way she thinks best. "You'll be great, honey," he says, reassuringly.
It is clear that Lilly is very close to her family.
She is also appreciative of the lifestyle her parents, through their hard work and exceptional talent, have afforded her.
Summers in Paris (Lilly is fluent in French), lavish dinner parties in New York (Leonardo DiCaprio is a regular guest), and front row seats to A-lister events around the world.
Anna Wintour, 70, controversial editor-in-chief of American Vogue, is among her closest friends.
"She's really like family to me and the only person I consistently hang out with. She's incredible. If I had to say there's one person who has influenced me the most outside my family, it's definitely Anna.
"It's not about the fashion aspect of what she does that inspires me, it's how eloquent and elegant (she is) … having power and a platform like she does and still being a genuinely good person. Dad's notorious for making her laugh during photos," Lilly says.
The Luhrmann-Martin clan moved into their mid-1800s brownstone overlooking Stuyvesant Square Park in 2016 after merging three family homes into one.
Martin, 55, took charge of the interiors, to sumptuous effect. Not only is she a four-time Oscar winner - and Australia's most awarded - for her costume and production design (two each for Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge! and 2013's The Great Gatsby), she also has a burgeoning interiors business, creating chairs, bedding, rugs and wallpaper.
Lilly describes the look of the family home as "eclectic".
"Mum's wallpaper is all over the house and every room has its own individual thing going on; her bedroom is really nice, it's like a jungle with these incredible palm lamps."
Collectibles from her parents' phenomenally successful professional collaboration are incorporated into the aesthetic, including bentwood chairs and a top hat from Moulin Rouge !; an antique side table from the 2008 epic Australia and, in 57-year-old Luhrmann's top-floor bedroom and creative space, the Hawaiian shirt Leonardo DiCaprio wore in the 1996 blockbuster Romeo + Juliet.
Despite so much theatre and upscale sensibility, Lilly is refreshingly unaffected.
This, it would appear, is no accident.
Lilly attends a large public school in Manhattan, whose minority intake is among the highest in New York - 95 per cent of students are Hispanic or African-American.
As well as being one of very few white students, she is the only Australian. Her friends aren't the sons or daughters of the city's rich and famous, as would be the case if she went to an elitist, private school.
Instead, they are kids who've done it tough.
Lilly adores it.
It has shaped her world view and inspired her to pay it forward.
"I go to The High School of Fashion Industries and have been so well taken care of there," she says.
"The welcome of my peers helped me fit right in, made me feel really at home, so I know how important it is to feel you belong when you're an international student, and you stand out."
Many of her friends have been victims of prejudice and injustice.
"The Black Lives Matter movement has been a huge part of my childhood," she says.
"I am very passionate about it - there needs to be significant reform and change.
"I have black friends and friends of colour, and have seen first-hand the ignorance of the NYPD and I think it's not an individual policing issue but systemic oppression."
Lilly is equally committed to improving America's health care system.
While she loves fashion, she has decided to become a nurse.
"I want to study nursing at NYU (New York University) and do a degree in public health," she says. "I've always had a passion for caring for people, and nursing is very hands on, but on the public health side, I'm really interested in changing policy to affect a large number of people.
"I'd like to focus on women at risk and women in impoverished communities and how we can provide easy medical access to those who have none."
While Lilly says her brother William, 15, "dreams of being an animator and definitely has Dad's storytelling genes", her own career goals are "less about art and more about science".
What do her parents think?
"Their idea of success is not the typical dictionary definition," Lilly says. "My parents are most proud of me when I'm doing something I love - in our family, a core value is 'a life lived in fear is a life half lived'.
"They've taught me to go into things 100 per cent and not worry what might happen, and also that success doesn't come in the form of big houses and nice things, but by being proud of what you do."
When Lilly launched the Study Queensland Luhrmann Appeal - and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a separate $10 million fund to support stranded international students - Baz Luhrmann was happy to take a back seat and let his daughter shine.
He simply told the media: "This is Lilly's baby - I'm just the proud dad."
Lilly says her parents have always encouraged her to think and act independently (she walks the 25 minutes from home to school in New York, and shops at discount fashion outlets).
"Mum and Dad are super focused on making sure I take the initiative and it's not them.
"I think they push me to make sure I don't rely on them to do anything, which has been really helpful because it means I've kind of done it all myself."
When Lilly flies back to New York this month to sit her exams, she won't be travelling alone. While her parents will be remaining on the Gold Coast to resume filming of Elvis, Lilly will be bringing a new family member with her: Bartholomew Claude, a mini fox terrier puppy.
"He is just so adorable, and although there are a lot of (quarantine) procedures, because of COVID-19, he is definitely worth it."
Lilly says she will continue to support Queensland's international students from her Manhattan base, but is looking forward to fully immersing herself in her studies.
"I have a privileged life, but another thing my parents have taught me is an incredible work ethic.
"They work 24/7, even Christmas Day, and some people might think that's no good, but it's not a curse, it's a blessing.
"Whatever you do, give it 100 per cent; push yourself and make an impact."
To donate to the Study Queensland Luhrmann Appeal go to givit.org.au/study-queensland-luhrmann-appeal
Originally published as Baz Luhrmann's daughter reveals secrets of celebrity lifestyle