I’m way flashier on Instagram and Snapchat because I feel like that’s what people want to see and that’s what I’ve always done, so I’m not going to stop. People want to see my cars and my purses . . . But that’s so not me. KYLIE JENNER
She’s the wild one. She’s the bad girl. She’s the black sheep, the sassy one, the cool one, my favorite … What does it say about Kylie Jenner that every single person I know has a different and deeply held idea about who she is? What does it say about us?
If we talk a bit cheekily about the Kardashian-Jenners in toto as our royal family, part of what we mean is that we are endlessly absorbed with them, irrationally interested in the minute details of their lives, and frighteningly passionate in our adoration of and judgments about them. But even within that densely concentrated family matrix of superstar personal brands, Kylie shines a bit differently—maybe even a bit more brightly. To begin with, she is utterly inscrutable. In her Instagrams and Snapchats, she is almost sex-doll sanguine, whether posed in grail-level couture clothes, next to factory-fresh sports cars, or in bed with her boyfriend, the rapper Tyga. Is she … thrilled, bored, miserable, elated, or just whatevs about her new look, her new fit, her new ride, her new pool? Are we to understand her life and her looks as covetable and consumable goods on par with the rest of the items in the Calabasas Barbie kit? Or could we even be forgiven for thinking that she is satirizing our entire celebrity-industrial complex with her droll presentation of such opulence? Such is the standing of her family, and of her newly ascendant place within it, that these discussions about Kylie not only happen, but kind of, like … matter?
When, in October, Kylie and her older sister Kendall were once again named on Time magazine’s list of the world’s most influential teens, she said that she was just trying to figure herself out, experimenting with herself so that she might figure out who she is and who she wants to be. In other words, Kylie may be less sure of who she is than we are. And why not? At 18, she has officially been on television for almost half of her lifetime. The formative moments of life, which we might well take for granted, and experience in some sort of privacy, Kylie has performed for cameras, or “shared,” often at several thousand dollars a tweet. In 2015, she launched a lifestyle app called Kylie that was projected to earn $15 million in its first year. Her life is just different. Whether it is fulfilling or wonderful, magical, weird, ridiculous, or what, not even Kylie seems to know.
CHRIS WALLACE: Hi there. What are you up to today?
KYLIE JENNER: It’s cool—we’re doing this surprise video for my mom’s birthday—me and all of my sisters.
WALLACE: Oh, fun. So is this a pretty typical day in the life? Filming with the fam?
JENNER: No, it’s not typical. Right now, since I started my app, I’m constantly thinking of ideas and videos to shoot. So my days are mostly filled up with that, and then, I don’t know, I’m obsessed with my hometown of Calabasas, so I try to stay there as much as I can.
WALLACE: I’m curious about something you said recently, about experimenting with your looks as a way to figure out who you are, who you want to be. I certainly identify with that search for identity. When did your experimenting begin?
JENNER: Honestly, what I think set everything off is when I cut my hair off when I was 16 and dyed it blue. After that, I just felt so free and wanted to experiment with my look. I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted to look like, but then once I did that, I was like, “Whoa, there’s a world of difference.” I just felt like I could be whoever I wanted to be, and I’m all about, like, experimenting. I’m still so young, so I’m just having fun.
WALLACE: And do the changes come with different personalities? Are they different characters, different Kylies with each look?
JENNER: No, it’s all physical. I’m always the same person.
WALLACE: What other experiments have you tried that you liked?
JENNER: I mean, the only thing I really like changing is my hair, my makeup. I don’t really think I would do anything else.
WALLACE: There’s nothing you would change about yourself, like if you had some magic spell?
JENNER: No, not right now.
WALLACE: Is there anything you would wish for if you could use that magic the other way around? I mean, a lot of people might think of you as the girl who has everything. What would you wish for if you could have anything?
JENNER: What I think is so amazing about having everything, and feeling like I have everything, is that I don’t really find happiness within materialistic things. Like, it’s cool if I can buy myself a new car, and I think it’s amazing for a week, but then the thrill is over, and I’m like, “Oh, so I guess that wasn’t really happiness.” I’ve realized through the years that I just find happiness in other things, whether it’s my dogs or my friends or, like, looking at the sunset. So if I were to wish for something else, it would just to be happy all the time, to have a superpower of not letting things affect me, and to be true to who I am, always.
WALLACE: Do you have some sort of practice, some sort of philosophy that can help you get there? I wish I did. How can we always stay in touch with that happiness, or is it that it comes along and you have to appreciate it when it does, like a sunset?
JENNER: I feel like it is exactly like that. It comes along and you just have to appreciate it. But I always just try to stay sane and not read comments. It’s hard though. You get interested. I’m young and I’m a girl, so, when I post something, I want to see what people are saying or what they think of my photos. I’ve found it better if you don’t read anything and you just always stay off that track. I’m just trying to not lose myself through this process, because I feel like I’ve already lost parts of me, like, my youth.
WALLACE: You do feel like you missed out on a lot of stuff?
JENNER: I do. I feel like I’m going to look back and be like, “Damn, I wish I could’ve just been a kid and done normal teenage stuff that my friends get to do.” But it also is a blessing, and I’ve done so many things that most 35-year-old women still haven’t done. You can look at anything glass-half-full or whatever. Like, yesterday I realized that I’m 18, I’m a female, and I have accomplished so much. I live in a beautiful home and I work really hard, so I’m just grateful.
WALLACE: It’s a curious thing, having this huge reach that you have on social media, because, I imagine, you want it to be a two-way street where you’re engaging with the people who follow you, but not getting sniped at by the comments. Do you feel a big weight with those 40-million-plus Instagram followers and all that comes with it? Does that intimidate you at all?
JENNER: It intimidates me but I’ve just realized, like … You know who I’m obsessed with? I’m obsessed with Lady Gaga. I saw her at the Alexander Wang fashion show after-party, and I think she’s the nicest person ever. She came up to me and was like, “I think you’re so amazing, and whatever you’re doing, people are just obsessed with it,” and she basically told me to not change. And I feel like that really helped me, because there’s a reason why I have so many followers and why people pay so much attention to me. So I just try not to change and stay authentic. I do feel pressure when I do sexy photo shoots and stuff, or if I want to post a picture … I don’t know. Because I want to be a good role model, but I also want to be me.
WALLACE: Well, here we are talking about how you’re experimenting to try to find yourself—and I don’t mean just you, I think we all are—and then here is this thing where you can’t really color too far outside of the lines, right? It’s like steering a really, really big ship. You can’t just make quick turns; there’s a whole process to what you’re posting. Do you feel limited by that, or is the platform itself totally worth it?
JENNER: I feel limited in some ways because I have such young fans. But I’m okay with that; I do everything I want to do.
WALLACE: How did you come to your anti-bullying Instagram campaign, #IAmMoreThan?
JENNER: I feel like if I came out and just told my story about bullying, people wouldn’t have sympathy—and I’m totally okay with that, because people don’t need to understand; they just think I’m not a normal person and live this magical life. But I wanted to give other people who have been bullied, and who overcame it to do something amazing, the opportunity to use my platform to bring awareness, to inspire people.
WALLACE: Well, I want to hear your story. You were bullied?
JENNER: Yeah, pretty much ever since I was 9, since the show started, there’s been so much bullying towards me. Like, every single day I see something negative about me. And it’s just completely torn me apart. I feel like I’ve lost so many amazing traits because I’ve listened to stupid people, ignorant people who are bullies.
WALLACE: Was it in person or online?
JENNER: It was in person, too. Just friends growing up. We were all young, and I always felt like people weren’t friends with me for the right reasons, and they would be like, “You know everyone is just friends with you because you’re famous,” or just weird stuff. I had a lot of friend issues throughout the years. That took a toll, and now I have two really great best friends that are the only people I hang out with. I keep a close circle. But it doesn’t affect me anymore; I’m totally fine with it. It’s just when you’re young, like 9, 10. It’s just confusing and you don’t know why people are saying mean things about you.
WALLACE: I imagine that your family was in a good position to be helpful, then and now. How has your relationship to your family changed recently, as you’ve come into your own?
I feel like, AS I get older, I DON’T laugh really hard, TO the point where YOU cry. You JUST don’t find things AS funny. KYLIE JENNER
JENNER: I feel like people are just paying more attention to me. Kendall and I were really branded together, and we wanted to do everything together, and we were like a team. And then Kendall started doing modeling, and that was her thing, and then I started doing my own thing. I just really want to be a businesswoman. The app was really my thing, and I worked really hard on it. And now I’m coming out with a lip kit and I’m just trying to do a lot of things on my own, so I feel like people are starting to recognize me as an individual.
WALLACE: I’m sort of fascinated by the way your business works, because every part of your life seems to be fodder for the app or the social networks. Is there ever a time where the cameras aren’t rolling? Do you ever have private time, a private place for yourself that’s beyond the reach of work and Snapchat?
JENNER: Probably just my off days. I think it’s fine and I make it work. I like spending time with my friends. It really brings me back to the real world. I’ll be working a lot and traveling and come back and just, like, hang out with my friends. I feel like if I didn’t have these friends that I pretty much grew up with and have known from before I was as big as I am, I wouldn’t be as grounded and as normal. They hold on to a piece of me, and if I lost them, I feel like I’d lose a little bit of myself.
WALLACE: Do you have a secret interior world? Is there a whole side of you that we don’t know about?
JENNER: [laughs] There is absolutely a side of me that people don’t know. I’m not myself on Snapchat or Instagram. That’s totally not me. I’m way flashier on Instagram and Snapchat, because I feel like that’s what people want to see and that’s what I’ve always done, so I’m not going to stop. People want to see my cars and my purses. People love fashion. But that’s so not me.
WALLACE: And who is the real you? If you didn’t have to feed those timelines, what would you rather be doing?
JENNER: I would probably just never dress up. I would never wear makeup, because I honestly hate wearing makeup. Lately, I’ve just been so over it. I feel like I’m way too young to wear such heavy makeup all the time. It’s just bad for your skin, but I’m always doing photo shoots or red carpets and events, so I just obviously want to look good. And I don’t know, I like hiking. I used to do a lot of hiking when I wasn’t as busy. I had a lot of anxiety when I was younger, so I would just run to this hill path in the back of my mom’s house and listen to Jack Johnson. I would listen to Jack Johnson and stare at the sky until my anxiety went away. When I was 16, I was always outside. We always watched the sunset, the group that I was friends with.
WALLACE: We have to get you a surfboard.
JENNER: I know. I went to surf camp for, like, four years. I was at the beach for the entire three months of summer.
WALLACE: If you could do whatever you want, what would that be like?
JENNER: If I could do whatever I wanted, I would have a successful makeup line, and I would want to hopefully start more businesses, and just be, like, a businesswoman. And then, hopefully, I’ll go off the map. When I’m, like, 30, I want to go off the map, have a family, and live in Malibu with a farm, and just raise my own chickens. [Wallace laughs] My next goal for 2016 is to learn how to garden.
WALLACE: Not to be cynical, but that’s going to be amazing on the app. People will eat that alive.
JENNER: I know. I’m going to document my journey on the app.
WALLACE: Are you good with money? Does that part of business excite you?
WALLACE: [laughs] Well, there are people for that. You’re 18 right now, right? Are you prepping for college?
JENNER: I’m not going to college. I have done everything to prepare for college, so if I wanted to in the future, I could go at any time. But I’m not planning on going anytime soon. [voice heard in the background] Kim just said, “Good girl!”
WALLACE: [laughs] Well, these questions were basically the SATs, so I think you’re good. Now we get weird. This is the lightning round. Who is your dream dinner guest, living or dead?
JENNER: Dinner guest?
WALLACE: Yeah. Do you like dinner parties? Do you like socializing in that way, at home, having people over?
JENNER: I like having people over. I feel like I work better in twos when I hang out with people. I work better in small groups.
WALLACE: So who would be the one person you would have over for your two-person dinner party?
JENNER: Maybe my grandfather? I was so young when he passed that I would love to talk to him.
WALLACE: Do you ever get nervous?
JENNER: Yeah, when I do big crowds, I get nervous. Like, I’m doing a talk show this month, and I am so nervous, I have nightmares about it every night.
WALLACE: Do you really?
JENNER: No, I don’t have, like, nightmares about it. I’m just being overdramatic. But I think about it all the time. I’m like, “Ugh, I just can’t!” I’m so nervous.
WALLACE: Does anything keep you up? Do you have anxiety?
JENNER: I wake up every morning with the worst anxiety. I don’t know why.
WALLACE: Oh, God—really?
JENNER: I have, like, a problem. [laughs] I wake up every morning at, like, seven or eight because I think that there’s a bad story about me, and I have to check. My worst fear is waking up and finding something bad about me on the internet.
WALLACE: Have you ever gone a day without checking anything?
JENNER: No. I deleted everything off of my phone for the night, and it was nice, but I don’t want to, like, restrain myself.
WALLACE: Do you ever rehearse what you are going to say to someone? If you are going to have a business call or a heavy life talk, do you sort of script your way through it?
JENNER: Yeah, I do think like that. I’m like, “If anyone were to ever ask me this, how would I answer?” Like, would I be nice about it?
WALLACE: Do you ever have hunches about things or premonitions of how things are going to go?
JENNER: No. I like the saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I always make plans, and it never goes how I plan. [Wallace laughs] So I don’t even think of tomorrow. I feel like it’s much better to live life in the moment. I literally forgot what I did yesterday. Like, if you asked me, I have no idea what I did yesterday or the day before. I just like to live in the moment as much as I can.
WALLACE: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
JENNER: Maybe to be invisible, so I can stalk people and see what people do when I’m not there.
WALLACE: I asked Kendall the same question, and I think she said she’d like to fly. Similar. What is your happiest memory?
JENNER: Probably the moments when I laughed really hard. I feel like, as I get older, I don’t laugh really hard, to the point where you cry. You just don’t find things as funny.
WALLACE: Do you have any really embarrassing memories?
JENNER: Not really.
WALLACE: What in the world are you most grateful for?
JENNER: Probably my family, because I feel like I would never be able to do this by myself.
CHRIS WALLACE IS INTERVIEW‘S SENIOR EDITOR.