Aubrey Anderson-Emmons: On growing up and learning how to be an actor on the set of ‘‘Modern Family’’

PHOTOS: Heather Koepp
STYLING: Shaina Feldman
GLAM: Ghaida Tashman
WORDS: Jasmine Perrier

When she was four years old, actress Aubrey Anderson-Emmons made history by becoming the youngest ever nominee and recipient of a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance as Lily Tucker-Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family. What is even more surprising is that the award-winning sitcom broadcasting today its tenth season was the first project Aubrey ever auditioned for and she has been on the show ever since.

Born in Santa Monica, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons has been a well-known figure on TV since her childhood, following in the footsteps of her mom Amy who got into the industry as a stand-up comedian and actress. ‘‘She helps me with my lines and gives me advice. She comes to work with me every day and helps me with everything like my clothes, going to studio school and all of that,’’ Aubrey says. ‘‘So it’s definitely helpful that she is an actor too because she knows what an actor has to do at their job.’’ When Aubrey’s mom asked her if she wanted to try out for a TV show, Aubrey was just debuting her acting career. Shortly after, she joined the cast of ABC’s hit show Modern Family as Lily Tucker-Pritchett, a Vietnamese-born child adopted by Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cameron (Eric Stonestreet), a gay American couple.

From then on, film sets became Aubrey’s second home. ‘‘It’s definitely a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work because it is a job. It’s kind of cool knowing that people have watched me grow up on TV,’’ Aubrey mentions. ‘‘But it can also be a little creepy because total strangers sometimes come up and say things like, ‘I’ve been watching you since you were a baby’ and they think they know you and want to hug you. That can be a little weird.’’ Aubrey appeared as Lily for the first time in Modern Family’s third season in 2011, and playing this role for the past seven years has for sure been a positive experience for the young actress. ‘‘She has always been very sassy from the beginning,’’ Aubrey tells on her character. ‘‘I like that about Lily because that’s not how I am in real life so it’s fun to get to play a sassy girl. A couple years ago we found out that Lily is also gifted, like she’s really smart and skipped a grade! That’s pretty cool too.’’

No matter what it is you want to do in life, it’s important to be yourself. Don’t change yourself for anyone and people will like you for who you are

Growing up on the show and becoming a young adult, Aubrey feels lucky that she got the opportunity to learn how to be an actor on the set of ‘‘one of the most famous shows of all time with some of the best writers and directors and actors in the business.’’ She even recalls that the moment she realized the worldwide success of the show was when it went to Australia. ‘‘I was six years old and that’s when I realized people loved Modern Family.’’ Having an impressive reach, the family sitcom has led to Aubrey having followers from all over the world on her social media. ‘‘I think it’s really cool that I’m part of a show that makes so many people laugh and brings so many people happiness.’’

‘‘Some of the best things I’ve learned from being a child actor is how to be mature and work with adults,’’ Aubrey adds. ‘‘It’s really an honor to be a part of Modern Family.’’ However, being a child actor can also be challenging when it comes to balance regular school and studio school. ‘‘I was in regular school, which I really liked, but it got harder and harder to go back and forth. But I have an awesome studio teacher named Ms. Sharon. She helps me with all of my school work and she’s really supportive and a great teacher.’’

When asking to give her best piece of advice to people inspired by her journey who are her age, Aubrey figured she would just thank them. ‘‘What else can you say besides that?’’ she wonders. ‘‘A lot of times I get asked how to become an actor and if you’re a kid, you have to have a really supportive adult in your life who will hep you a lot. And you have to know that it’s a lot of hard work. The most important thing is you have to be willing to put in the work and keep trying even when you get rejected or it’s hard.’’ As she has been acting for such a long time now, Aubrey admits that she can’t imagine what her life would be without acting. ‘‘But I’ve been really lucky that my show has been on for so long. I have a lot of fun as an actor and I get to have so many awesome experiences.’’ 

A lot of times I get asked how to become an actor and if you’re a kid, you have to have a really supportive adult in your life who will hep you a lot

In addition to being passionate about acting, Aubrey introduces herself as an equestrian. ‘‘I’ve been riding and jumping for many years so one of my dream projects would be to be in a movie or show where I can ride horses,’’ she reveals. ‘‘My mom showed me the movie International Velvet and I can’t believe that Elizabeth Taylor did all of her own riding in that movie. It was crazy — she was galloping and going over huge jumps and stuff!’’

There is no doubt that 11-year-old Aubrey Anderson-Emmons is only at the beginning of what is almost certain to be a fulfilling career for her. ‘‘If I continue acting I think I’d like to try some drama. I would definitely like to be in a movie. That would be a totally new kind of acting experience for me,’’ she says in regards to what she would be interested in exploring next in the film industry. ‘‘No matter what it is you want to do in life, it’s important to be yourself. Don’t change yourself for anyone and people will like you for who you are,’’ she concludes. 

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