Adrian Grenier on Life Before YoungArts: "I Thought, 'Maybe I'll Be a Rock Star'"

Adrien Grenier Banksy.jpg
courtesy of YoungArts
"There's a Bansky piece," Grenier says of the art tour. "They all deal with identity, roles we play. Shepard Fairey and I did a collaboration which was exploring the idea: what if we could graffiti, what if we could do street art on public figures? They're cool pieces."

Speaking to us from an undisclosed location where he's hiding out from those who might plaster him with Obey stickers or spraypaint "NECKFACE" on his handsome neck and handsome face, he tells us, "The Media Empowerment tour was really born out of a theme in the film that was really resonating with young people. With Austin, the papparazzo's being an everyman or everyboy and people being able to relate to him."

As Grenier sees it, he became a default mentor to Austin, not unlike the mentors he worked with at YoungArts.

"I think everything I learned was not only through experience but through my education at LaGuardia and YoungArts. He's a paparazzo but at the end of the day, it's expression. There's no wrong way to express yourself. But when you do express yourself, it has an affect and it's about having some ownership of what you do when you do express yourself."

adrien grenier teenage pap art.jpg
courtesy of YoungArts
Grenier tells us that he hasn't spoken with Austin in a few months but that, "He's of age now. He's almost 19. It's time for him to take charge."

When he was the age Austin was in the documentary, Grenier says, "I thought, 'Maybe I'll be a rock star.' Then I went to school for film. But Austin has this amazing impulse, this ability to see this opportunity he had. He had the technology and tools and went out and started participating.

"Kids at that age, it's hard to get them out of bed. That's half of it. But if you ask who his guiding influences were, in this culture they are tabloids and they are mainstream entertainment media. Which are fine for what they are, but if he'd had an institution like YoungArts, it might have shown him the more meaningful aspects of what expression can be."

In an age of mediated experiences, in which Instagram places prefabricated nostalgia on the present, Grenier believes it's more important than ever to develop the self through the arts.

"We can forget that there are other ways to do it," he says. "Instead of putting on a readymade filter, put on a filter of your own.

"You have to participate as much as possible, especially when in public schools, the resources are being cut every day and the arts are the first to go."

Grenier hopes to bring the Teenage Paparazzo Empowerment Tour across the country but leave the schlepping to him; it stops at the Bacardi Building tomorrow night.

Adrien Grenier teenage pap poster.jpg
For more information about the tour, visit For more on YoungArts, visit

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Location Info


Bacardi Building

2100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: General

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