Remember Lily From AT&T? Meet the Girl Behind the Character

You may recognize the woman in these photos namely as Lily, “the AT&T girl.” But Milana Vayntrub, who plays the famous role throughout the phone company’s successful ad campaign, has actually been acting in Hollywood since before her fifth birthday. These days, she’s most well-known for her part in the commercials, and one of her more recent roles with an entertainment company.
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Musebycl.io/BBDO, Critical Mass, Hearts & Science
Aside from doing a lot of impressive work on TV and film, she also spends a lot of her time advocating for refugees. After she and her family came to the U.S. when she was just two-years-old, she has first-hand experience driving her philanthropy. Here are a few more interesting facts about actress Milana Vayntrub, AKA “Lily Adams.”

USSR

Vayntrub was born in Uzbekistan, and first came to the United States as a refugee, along with her parents, when she was just over two-years-old. Being Jewish, they feared for their safety in the troubled Soviet Union.

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The family moved to West Hollywood, where they settled down and got their daughter into acting. The move came in an effort to make the money they needed to put their feet down in the country. They likely had no idea that their little Milana would go on to become a celebrity.

Making it Work

When the family first arrived in the United States, Milana said that her parents worked very hard to provide for her.

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After Milana started making money of her own, she made it her mission to pay them back – well, it was one of her missions, but she was about to turn things up a notch.

Proud Heritage

Milana is proud of her Russian heritage, which she says was very influential in her home when she was growing up. The family used their native language in their home, and they still use it to speak to each other today.

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She’s very close with her mom and even asks her permission before doing some more risqué shots. “I asked my mom for permission before basically putting my breasts on a platter,” she said in the caption of one of her recent costumed images on Instagram.

Big Sis

If you have ever seen a picture of Milana’s younger sister, you’ve probably also seen all of the “wow, that family has some good genes,” comments. And rightfully so, because both sisters are just naturally beautiful.

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The girls are tight with each other just like they are with their mom. In 2018, her sister, Briana, posted a picture online around the time she celebrated her 20th birthday. Big sis may not be super happy about it, considering she’s tried to keep her away from “the creeps.”

Troubling Times

As a child in Uzbekistan, Milana faced turbulent, unsettling times with the family. They feared that, due to their religious identity, they would be targeted.

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So, they came to the U.S., hoping to find a better life – and that they did. But just a couple of years after they arrived, when Milana was just five years old, she was already helping to rake in the dough.

Making It in Tinsel Town

When Vayntrub was a kid, her parents wanted her to experience everything that the country had to offer, so that she could figure out who she was and what she wanted to do with her life.

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This resulted in her going to summer camp and taking gymnastics classes, of which she’s jokingly called a “prerequisite for all Russian kids.” And, if making it in Hollywood is a difficult task for pretty much everyone, just think of how hard it is to accomplish when you’re a five-year-old who’s been in the U.S. for less than three years!

The Visa

Milana’s family still has the initial visa which allowed them to come to the States. The family had it tough in their country of Uzbekistan, but they were proud of their Russian heritage, and it stills shows today.

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In many cases, when they’re only communicating with one another, they use their native language. Milana’s parents always knew that she was special, and not long after they arrived in the U.S., she was already auditioning (and scoring) her first television roles!

First Part

Vayntrub may not have been a familiar face until the 2010s, but she’s no stranger to acting on television. Her first role on a TV show came about all the way back in 1995 when she played the young Tatiana on a few episodes of “ER”.

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Before that, she had done some commercials for Mattel Barbie. Though, when she first began her venture in Hollywood, it wasn’t because she was chasing her dreams. At that point, she and her parents were trying to put roots down and do what they could to make it in the States.

Dinner Date

Vayntrub was cast into her role of Tatiana on “ER” in 1995. She appeared in the episode The Birthday Party. After meeting George Clooney on set, she didn’t want their time together to end.

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But, before Milana was an acting adult, and she was still gracing the screen as an adorable, funny kid, she got cast into her role on ER, on which she got to work with George Clooney – and she was thrilled.

Ex-Model

Milana Vayntrub has recently found herself the object of unwanted online attention, with people photoshopping her photos and making lewd comments on her pages, and even on AT&T’s company pages. While that’s definitely not a cool thing to do, the attention likely stems from her being, well, gorgeous, and a public figure.

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In fact, before she landed her most well-known role, she dabbled in a bit of modeling. Usually, we’re used to seeing her on the commercials in her blue button-down shirt, but when you see studio/red carpet pictures of her, it’s not surprising.

Californication

If you aren’t familiar with it, “Californication” was a popular comedy/drama starring David Duchovny, that aired for seven years, between 2007 and 2014. In its final year of production, Vayntrub was cast into the role of “bad actress,” on the episode Like Father Like Son.

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Although it was just a small part, she was thrilled to be a part of something with so much recognition. Little did she know she was much closer than she thought to a major part of her own.

Other Space

Milana was cast into the eight-episode Yahoo! Screen series, “Other Space”, which premiered in 2015. She played the role of Tina Shukshin, the navigator on the spaceship, the UMP Cruiser, which makes its way around the universe.

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But before the ship was used for those purposes, it was the setting of a reality TV series and is run by people who have no business running a ship. Take Tina, for instance, who has zero experience as a navigator and was only given the job because the leader of the ship is in love with her.

Stacking Money

As of October 2020, Vayntrub’s net worth is estimated to be between $3-$4 million, thanks to several projects she’s completed throughout her acting career. Some older sources list it at closer to $500,000, but that was likely before she jumped on board with her latest project.

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She may not have a huge bank account compared to some other actresses in Hollywood, but it’s impressive and it only continues to rise. In fact, she even revived her role as Lily in early 2020.

Silicon Valley

Just a few years after her original appearance on “ER”, she went on to act in the major soap series, “Days of Our Lives”. She was cast into the small part in an episode of the show that aired in 1997.

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After being noticed by Hollywood executives, it was only a matter of time before she was landing bigger and better roles. She knew from a very young age that she enjoyed acting, and she was determined to pursue it – for most of her life, anyway. Soo she landed the role of Tara, Gilfoyle’s girlfriend from “Silicon Valley”.

Dog Lover

One glance at her Instagram account will tell you everything you want to know about her relationship with four-legged friends. There are a handful of pictures of her posing with (and kissing) her pooches, along with cats.

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In fact, there are so many of them that her followers have started posting fan art of her dog – which she loved, and even called for more of, along with the caption “please include full dog.” She even has a motto: all animals, all the time.

Landing the Role

Although she’d had a lot of acting experience by that point, she really became a well-known face when she landed the role of AT&T’s, “Lily.” From the very first commercial that aired, the world knew we were going to see more of her, and we were happy about it. After all, she was hilarious and enjoyable to watch.

 

From that point on, there were all kinds of Google searches to find out who the actress was who was chosen to represent this major brand.

Relatability

Typically, you don’t get the chance to really connect with a character in a commercial that’s only 30 seconds long, but that’s not the case with Lily.

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Director Hank Perlman says that was the point, and they tried to make her as funny, strong, and smart as they could possibly convey within that short period of time. They ultimately created a very likable character that people everywhere can relate to.

Hilarious

Milana knows exactly who she is and that the package includes being funny – but she says she hasn’t always known. In one recent interview, she said the when she was younger, “I knew that I liked people who were funny, but I don’t think I knew that I was funny.”

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That is definitely all changed today, and she knows humor – especially in combination with beauty and brains – is a powerful thing. It was that combo that would help her land the role that would boost her acting career above and beyond.

The Voice of Reason

Aside from appearing on all of her recent TV and film work, she’s also done a lot of voice-only roles, including a ton of radio spots and different podcasts.

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The comedian is an advocate for several causes and uses her fame to really try and shine a light on the things that are important to her.

Hitting Home

In 2016, Milana used her voice as a celebrity to speak out about the refugee situation. She’s an expert on this subject herself.

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She says that the refugees are often confused about why they aren’t being welcomed after the hardships they’ve endured in their former countries. She’s working to help people see from the refugees’ perspective and change that so they are met with friendly faces.

Resonating

Because of her childhood, and her history of fleeing from one country to another, Milana has made it one of her life’s goals to assist others who are facing the same type of hardship.

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So when she went on vacation in Greece with her family, she decided to stay for longer and help people from a background similar to hers.

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When speaking about her time in Greece, she told the reporter she’d had a revelation that made her feel bad for vacationing while these people were going through such a rough time.

 

It was then and there that she made the decision to become an activist for refugees all around the world. She stayed in Greece and started to take the steps towards launching #CantDoNothing.

A Voice for Good

In a world full of so much pain and panic, celebrities often must decide what to put first – money, or people. Milana decided to use her voice as a star to try and fight for others who don’t have the ability to be heard.

 

She’s been working since 2016 to spread awareness about the struggles refugees face. Her work tries helping families and individuals get their feet on the ground in the U.S. so that they can have the same type of opportunities she was able to find when she was a child.

Using Her Power

In 2016, Milana, along with entrepreneur Eron Zehavi, launched the humanitarian organization, #CantDoNothing.

 

The group’s focus is on the global refugee crisis. They work to help refugees throughout the world find the peace they’re looking for, and make sure that people everywhere are aware of the struggles they face. She tries to spread the word about it throughout social media, using the hashtag and asking her followers to tag more people to expand the movement.

Professional Burps

Comedy came early to Milana, who used her silliness to cash in on commercials and other ventures throughout Hollywood. For one performance, she remembers practicing her burping.

 

She knew that to make people laugh, she had to step outside of what some may perceive as comfort zones. But she knows exactly who she is and what she’s doing. She even went so far as to call herself a “professional disgusting person.”

Something More Serious

Although Milana had been acting for as far back as she could remember, she also remembers thinking at one point that she should aim for something a little more concrete than a career in comedy.

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She had her doubts that her child star career would carry her into adulthood, so she decided to head back to school at the University of California in San Diego, to earn her BA in Communications years after she’d gotten her GED at the age of 16.

This Is Milana

In 2016, Milana landed another great recurring role and appeared in “This Is Us” as Sloane Sandburg. Sloane is a creative type who pens a play that Kevin, one of the stars, chooses to audition for.

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Before the two had gotten together, she was very shy and reserved, but her relationship with Kevin creates a character arch which leads to her gaining loads of confidence.

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Sloane Sandburg, Kevin’s love interest has been referred to as having the “sexy librarian” type of vibe, which is definitely something Milana can pull off.

 

Sloane appears in eight episodes of the show, which is still on today. It was also just added to the streaming service Hulu if you’re interested in binging all of the episodes that feature Milana!

Back in the Day

In the early 00s, she may not have been a big name in the industry, but she was still making her way through the ranks and showing up in some serious productions. Take her three-episode stint as a dancer on the hit TV show, “Lizzie McGuire”, starring Hillary Duff.

 

By that point, she had already acted on “Days of Our Lives”, and she was getting noticed quickly by execs. She was not only adorable, but she was also talented and worked well on screen. This scored her some major points with the people in charge of production.

The Before Times

Before Milana Vayntrub was a well-known face, she played the role of Denise in the web series, “Roommates Enemies”, which aired in 2012 and 2013.

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At that time, she was counting on roles like that to help her pay her bills while getting her feet on the ground and building her acting career. Plus, she’d also enjoyed acting, and she was thrilled to be a part of it all, no matter how small the parts were that she was finding. But it wouldn’t be long before she would catch her big break.

Pulling an All-Nighter

“All Nighter” is a 2017 comedy film about a father who works way too much trying to spend some time with his daughter and ends up having to spend more time with her boyfriend instead. Filming started back in 2015, and Milana was hired for the role of Terri Sadler.

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Along with Milana, there are several talented individuals involved in the project, including J. K. Simmons, Emile Hirsch, and Analeigh Tipton. It received mixed reviews, but for the most part, they’re not too wonderful.

Squirrel Girl

In 2016, Milana was placed into the voice-acting role of Doreen Green, AKA Squirrel Girl on “Marvel’s New Warriors” TV show. The show ran for a few years in the late 2010s and was recently brought back to life for a new “New Warriors”.

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She’s amassed quite a following from this role alone and fans are always happy to see her at conventions. Her most recent convention appearance was at 2018’s NYC ComicCon.

Fans

The actress has amassed a pretty substantial following throughout internet land, with several different forums and blogs dedicated to her by fans all over the world. For example, the Milana Vayntrub Diva Fan Club on Facebook has over 7,000 followers who seem pretty active.

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There’s also a Tumblr blog and Reddit, not to mention her own Instagram on which she has nearly 900,000 people following her.

The Acting Bug

During her college years at UC San Diego, Milana knew she still wanted to have comedy in her life. It was what made her happy, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that she wouldn’t be able to make a career out of it.

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So, she kept with her studies, but she also decided to enroll in their theatre program, which is pretty great, according to the actress. The university has a long list of entertainment alums, including Neil Patel and Benicio del Toro.

Walking Away

Milana has been making appearances on television since she was still in diapers. She knew from a very young age that making others laugh was a big part of who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. But there was that time during her teenage years when she decided to get her GED and started to have second thoughts about acting.

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She let society convince her that she needed to do “something more serious,” so she went back to school. Luckily, she kept striving to achieve her dreams throughout and after her time at UC San Diego.

Showing Off

Recently, Milana has gone toe-to-toe with a gang of internet trolls who have harassed her using inappropriate, lewd comments on some of her photos. But, although she’s never intentionally posted any nude photos — or anything of the kind — she’s given one hotel parking lot a show (that no one likely saw.)

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The moment happened in jest between her and a group of friends who snapped this shot. Still, posting a shot like this doesn’t warrant all of the harassment she’s been battling online lately.

Unwanted Attention

Vayntrub recently took to her Instagram to bring awareness to the harassment she’s received since finding her fame as “the AT&T girl.”

 

During an online Livestream, she noted that she’d be out doing something ordinary like walking her dog, and all of a sudden she’d see a photo of her that’s been distorted in a negative way by someone online. She told the viewers how hurt she was and how much of an assault this felt like.

The Company Has Her Back

Since Milana has seen her share of disturbing online comments, AT&T took to the internet to back her up. A spokesperson claimed that someone was removing inappropriate comments that were directed at the actress.

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Of course, they can’t control all of the content that’s posted underneath their ads on social media sites, etc., and there have still been some things that have slipped through their fingers. Fellow actors and actresses took to Twitter to support her as well, including Paul Feig and Yetide Badaki.

YouTube

Milana is just as talented behind the camera as she is on screen, but she takes on both roles, as actress and director, in the YouTube series, “Let’s Talk About Something More Interesting”.

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She launched the series with a friend in 2011 and had a number of guests on the show to talk about various things that could fuel comedic bits. She took on a variety of different parts in the span of 15 episodes of hilarity.

Guest Star Matt Damon

When Milana directed her YouTube series, “Let’s Talk About Something More Interesting”, she played a variety of roles, along with her friend, Stevie Nelson. The two would have guest stars on that they’d interview and talk to about different subjects.

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Of course, the actress never misses a chance to use her platforms to draw attention to world issues and used this opportunity to discuss the water crisis with Matt Damon – in a way that both made viewers aware and made them laugh.

Family Guy

Making It Well, you really know that you’ve made it in Hollywood when you’re turned into a Joke on Seth MacFarlane’s hit adult animated show, “Family Guy”.

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In an episode titled “A House Full of Peters” the main character (named Peter) asks his wife how he’d be able to “find out the name of the actual actress who plays the AT&T girl.” His wife responds that she left the list of hot commercial girls on the refrigerator for him. They don’t actually have to say her name, because we all know who they’re referring to: made it!

On TV With Dad

Believe it or not, Milana actually made an appearance on television several years before scoring her first real acting gig in commercials. She appeared on TV with her father when they’re on their way to the U.S.

 

On the trip, they made a number of stops, including in Italy, where they were awaiting final approval on their visas to continue to the States. At this point, she was already able to speak multiple languages, which she demonstrates by telling the interviewer that they’re going to America.

Voice Roles

Aside from being known for her work with AT&T, she’s done a number of voice-acting roles, the first of which was in 2005 in an episode of “Robot Chicken”, where she played Helen Henny.

 

A few years later, she voiced Anya on “Immigrants”. And then, of course, she has been playing the voice of Marvel’s Squirrel Girl for several years, in a variety of their TV shows and films. At one point, she even voiced her role as Lily when she played an animated version of herself.

Stepping Into Her Role

The day the actress wound up being cast into her life-changing role of Lily, she had very little idea what laid in the path before her. It was an audition for a commercial, just like many others she’d done before.

 

Apparently, she was having a bad day and didn’t have a great feeling about the entire thing. In one interview, she revealed that she was so upset she was actually in the waiting room crying – a waiting room that she was stuck in for a pretty long time. But the waiting was the least of her worries that day.

Tears of Joy

Milana couldn’t remember why, but she was having such a bad day when she auditioned for the role of Lily that she spent a large part of her time in the waiting room shedding tears (along with being a bundle of nerves.)

 

Fortunately, none of that mattered to execs, who loved how she worked in their ads and invited her back to shoot her first commercial. After the initial one saw loads of success, they knew they’d struck gold.

The Life of the Party

Recently, the actress did a colorful shoot with Dopeness magazine, which is posted on their website if you’re interested in checking it out. The images are full of life and pops of bright colors, and titled, “Milana Vayntrub: The Life of the Party”.

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When they asked her how she was enjoying the shoot, she said she was having a good time but had one complaint. After all, the shoot was in New York, and she understandably expected them to have good pizza – but faced one with some unbelievable rubbery cheese.

Chef Ramsay

Throughout the course of her career, Milana has gotten the chance to work with some pretty cool people, from George Clooney on “ER”, to Matt Damon on her YouTube series. One of her favorite moments was the time she got to shoot with the world-famous Gordon Ramsay for AT&T.

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In fact, she’s called the shoot her favorite since she signed on with the phone company. According to the actress, he’s just like you’d expect him to be: a great person who just so happens to drop a ton of F-bombs.

Branching Out

If there is anything we’ve learned about Milana so far is that she isn’t afraid of new challenges and is always happy to demonstrate her on-camera skills.

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Other than ticking commercials, film, TV, voice acting, modeling, and standup comedy off her professional bucket list, you’d think there’s nothing left to conquer. But you’d be wrong. Milana has also appeared in three music videos: “Can’t Be Saved” (by Senses Fail in 2007), “Teenage Tide” (by Letting Up Despite Great Faults in 2011), and “Hungry Child” (by Hot Chip in 2019).