When 19-year-old Grace Burns first told her mom she wanted to be a model a couple of years back, it didn’t go so well. “We were sleeping in the same bed the night before my dad got back from a work trip,” she recalls. “And right before we went to bed, I was like, ‘By the way, I want to model, okay goodnight!’ and turned to the other side. Her first words were, ‘So, you’re not going to school!?’”

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While many parents would worry about their teenage daughter compromising her education to pursue a creative path, Burns’s mom has direct experience: she happens to be the iconic supermodel Christy Turlington, who bypassed college to model full-time as a teenager, before later going back to complete degrees at NYU and Columbia. Since reassuring both parents (her dad is the actor, filmmaker, and writer Ed Burns of Saving Private Ryan and Sidewalks of New York) that she would still go to college and, she states with a pointed finger and mock severity, “be a smart lady,” Burns has been balancing her studies at NYU Gallatin with magazine covers for Homme Girls, Muse, Perfect, and Pop. This year, she starred in a Carolina Herrera campaign alongside her mom and made her runway debut in a British Vogue x LuisaViaRoma show in Florence.

Burns is working in an industry where her mom’s legacy still looms large—the “fantastic four” OG supermodels Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista graced the cover of the recent September issue of Vogue and are the focus of the Apple TV+’s new docuseries The Super Models. She’s also coming up alongside other second-generation models like Kaia Gerber and Lila Moss. Given all this, I’d be remiss not to ask Burns for her thoughts on the nepo baby discourse. While she won’t be flying a “nepo baby, loud and proud” flag anytime soon, Burns is refreshingly upfront about how both her parents have shaped her. “I am who I am because of them, in every way: the way I look, the way I think, how I dress, my politics,” she says. “I would never try and reject that.”

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Although she initially thought twice about getting into modeling because of stereotypes about the industry being “dumb and materialistic,” Burns has learned that knowing your angles doesn’t make you a ditz. While the camera loves her, she’s also a photographer, writer, and enthusiastic reader (with a studious Goodreads log to prove it; recent favorites include Charles Baxter’s The Feast of Love and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray). After having grown up poring over her mom’s Arthur Elgort, Irving Penn, and Steven Meisel coffee table books, earlier this year she landed her first photography campaign for Minty Mellon, a line of ballet flats and Mary Janes for the shoe brand Tamara Mellon. In true New York fashion, some of the photos were shot in a bodega, with the models using Budweiser slabs and bags of ice as props.

Burns is also an editor, having spearheaded two issues of By Grace, a zine she describes as “a time capsule of my friends, the people that inspire me, what I’m thinking about, writing about, looking at, and finding interesting.” In the coming months, she will self-publish a collection of love poems and photography. While she’s nervous about putting her innermost thoughts out into the world and aware that she might one day look back and regret sharing her teenage musings, she’s choosing to feel the fear and do it anyway: “I won’t let that stop me.”

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This story appears in the pages of V145: now available for purchase!

Photography Bryce Anderson

Fashion Xander Ang

Makeup Mariel Barrera

Hair Ward Stegerhoek (Home Agency)

Manicure Rita Remark (Bryan Bantry)

Set design Ava Villafañe

On-set producer Mara Weinstein

Digital technician Reece Nelson

Lighting director William Takahashi

Photo assistant Ryan Carter

Stylist assistants Marli Giedt, Natalie Cohen

Makeup assistant Jenn Green

Hair assistant Brian Casey

Location Shio Studio

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