From You Tube comedian to
humanitarian aid, Milana
Vayntrub, Marshall ’08, is far
more than the face of AT&T.
YOU PROBABLY RECOGNIZE HER as the
quirky Lily Adams character in AT&T
commercials, but there is far more to
Milana Vayntrub, Marshall ’08, than
what you see on screen. Though dubbed
“Advertising’s New ‘It Girl’” by Adweek,
the story behind 29-year-old Vayntrub
is one of ambition and audacity coming
straight from her days at UC San Diego.
The self-made actress, comedienne, writer
and producer just recently added filmmaker to her repertoire. Earlier this year, she
released a DIY documentary, Can’t Do
Nothing, about her unexpected calling
to aid Syrian refugees in Greece during a
trip that started off as a mere vacation.
While her documentary was truly
impromptu, humanitarian aid has a very
deliberate significance for Vayntrub. A
refugee herself, Vayntrub was born in
Uzbekistan and fled the Soviet Union with
her family in 1989. “I very much relate to
the plight of any person looking for a new
home and trying to resettle in hopes of
a better life,” she says. In the documen-
tary—which was filmed entirely on her
iPhone—Vayntrub intentionally misses her
flight home to Los Angeles to instead fly to
the Greek island of Lesbos where volun-
teers were needed to help with refugees.
“I don’t really know what I’m going to do
but I can’t do nothing,” she notes in the
film. “I’m not going to be a passive citizen
anymore. I want to be a force for good.”
Vayntrub’s first-hand experience helping
refugees had a lasting impact on the actress.
“I know the people we helped were just a few
of the many making that dangerous trip,”
she writes in an online essay. “A drop in
the bucket. But the classic Margaret Mead
quote kept running through my head: ‘Never
underestimate the power of a small group
of committed people to change the world.
In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.’” In
timing with the release of her documentary,
she created #CantDoNothing, a grassroots
organization focused on spreading awareness
of the global refugee crisis and calling for others to contribute their time, money or voice.
BY ALEX MORALES
MEETS THE EYE
TRITON | SPRING 2016 46