The Untold Truth Of The AT&T Commercial Girl

While we often think of television personalities as people from sitcoms or reality shows, one of the most recognizable TV faces out there is that of Lily, aka the woman from the AT&T commercials. Lily has become a TV mainstay over the years — NBC News noted that the role was cast in November 2013.

Just who is Lily? In real life, Lily is an actress named Milana Vayntrub, and she's kind of a big deal. Aside from having starred in the AT&T commercials for years, she has dozens of other acting credits under her belt. Per IMDb, Vayntrub's credits date back to 1995, when she appeared in three episodes of "ER" as Tatiana. She's also had small roles on some other pretty big shows like "Days of Our Lives" and "Lizzie McGuire."

One of her most recognizable roles — outside of Lily, that is — may be that of Sloane Sandburg on "This Is Us." She's also appeared in several comedy videos for CollegeHumor. Other credits include roles in TV shows and films like "The Clandestine," "Klaus," "House of Lies," "Californication," "Other Space," "All Nighter," "Threads," "The Mad Ones," "That Moment When," "Mother's Little Helpers," "Die Hart," and "Dad."

The AT&T commercial girl was born in Uzbekistan

Born in Uzbekistan, Milana Vayntrub was just 2 years old when her family moved to Los Angeles in 1989. "There was a lot of discrimination against the Jews at that time," she told NBC News. "Both my parents were born there but we were considered outsiders. We had some family in LA who offered to help us get there. So when they got the chance to leave, my parents took it."

Vayntrub was later inspired to help Syrian refugees through Can't Do Nothing, an organization she started that raised money for refugee relief. "It's been a tremendous help to us," Lexi Shereshewsky, the executive director of The Syria Fund, told NBC News in 2016. "It's raised thousands of dollars in donations for our organization. And it's brought in a whole new community of people willing to get involved."

Milana Vayntrub, the AT&T commercial girl, has had to deal with online harassment

The public's obsession with Lily took a nasty turn when people began to circulate old photos of Milana Vayntrub, sharing them as memes, which generated some lewd comments that distressed the actress. In an August 2020 Instagram livestream that someone later shared to Twitter, Vayntrub spoke about the harassment.

"Maybe it just has to do with being a person on the internet, or maybe it's specific to being a woman on the internet," said Vayntrub. "But all of these comments ... it hurts my feelings. I'm hurting and it's bringing up, like, a lot of feelings of sexual assault. I am just like, you know, walking my dog and getting messages from people who have distorted my pictures to get likes on their accounts."

Things got so out of control that AT&T had to issue a statement. "We will not tolerate the inappropriate comments and harassment of Milana Vayntrub, the talented actor that portrays Lily in our ads," they said (via Deadline). "We have disabled or deleted these comments on our social content that includes Lily and we will continue to fight to support her and our values, which appreciate and respect all women."

The AT&T commercial girl acted alongside George Clooney

Growing up in the acting industry was a unique experience for Milana Vayntrub, who was starstruck by some of the famous people she met at work.

"I was on the first season of 'ER,'" she explained to Esquire. "I played Tatiana, a little Russian girl with AIDS who Julianna Margulies tried to adopt. It was also season one with George Clooney and he was amazing. I just kept trying to invite him over. He was like, 'Yeah, I'll come over for a playdate.' I was like, 'Mom! Can you cook something so we have a reason for him to come over?' My mom and I were both just goo-goo-gaga over him."

While Clooney never did go over to Vayntrub's house, she does have good memories of interacting with the star on set. "I hope to reunite with him one day," she said.

Milana Vayntrub almost quit acting before she became the AT&T commercial girl

Milana Vayntrub was still a kid when she landed her first acting roles, but for a time she wasn't sure if she wanted to pursue acting as a career in adulthood. "I just kind of stopped for a while because I didn't think I wanted to do it," she explained to Esquire. "I stopped around middle school and high school because I remember thinking, 'I should probably focus on something more realistic. This is probably not going to work out. I have high hopes but that's probably not enough to make it in film.'"

Fortunately for her many fans, Vayntrub eventually changed her mind, saying she got back into acting because of "a little bit of boredom and sadness in college." Said the AT&T star, "I went to UC San Diego and I didn't really like the school or anything. But they had a really great theater program so I just took theater classes so I could not go crazy and keep myself busy. I totally got sucked back in."

AT&T commercial girl Milana Vayntrub is also a writer and a director

Milana Vayntrub's acting skills are obvious to anyone who has ever seen her in an AT&T commercial or anything else she's been in, but what many don't know is that she also has some other pretty impressive talents hidden up her sleeve, such as her directing skills.

"It has come to attention that you don't know anything about me," she wrote in the caption of a 2020 Instagram post. "Hi. I'm Milana and I've been directing for about 7 years. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner." The caption accompanied a video of her on the set of an AT&T commercial which she directed and acted in. Other directing credits listed on IMDb include the video "Let's Talk About Something More Interesting" and an episode for "CollegeHumor Originals."

Vayntrub also has a handful of writing credits listed on IMDb, including several episodes for "CollegeHumor Originals" and "Robot Chicken." Talk about multi-talented!

Milana Vayntrub, the AT&T commercial girl, has gotten involved in politics

As if acting, directing, and writing weren't enough to keep a person busy, Milana Vayntrub has also been involved in some political campaigning. Not only has Vayntrub highlighted a lot of political and social issues on her Instagram account such as the Black Lives Matter movement and encouraging people to vote by mail, but she also endorsed Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 2021 Senate runoff race.

In an Instagram post, Vayntrub also praised the work of politician and activist Stacey Abrams, revealing that she did some work for Abrams when she ran for governor in Georgia. "I got to help a little on Stacey Abrams gubernatorial race in 2018 and knew I was in the presence of greatness," she wrote. "At the time she had registered over 150,000 new voters in Georgia. Today, she's registered of [sic] 800,000! Our country owes this woman everything."

This is why Milana Vayntrub doesn't show her body in AT&T commercials anymore

If you've paid attention to AT&T commercials over the years, you may have noticed that the girl in them shows less of herself these days. This was a deliberate decision made by Milana Vayntrub after all of the harassment she faced about her appearance. Since she's also directing the commercials, she has final say over how the promos look. As noted by the Independent, that means that her character now stands behind a counter.

Vayntrub opened up about the decision in a March 2021 tweet, writing, "Been getting a lot of 'why are they placing her body like that in those ads?' Well, I direct the ads. I place myself like that. And it's because of the thousands of unwelcome comments I receive about my body. You've lost the privilege of looking at it until I feel safe again."

While it's terrible that Vayntrub was put in this position in the first place, we're happy to see her taking such an empowered stance and only doing what she's comfortable with.

Milana Vayntrub is no stranger to Marvel productions

Milana Vayntrub has voiced the superhero Squirrel Girl in a number of animated productions, including "Marvel Rising: Initiation," "Marvel Rising: Chasing Ghosts," and "Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron." Per the Marvel website, Squirrel Girl (real name Doreen Green), is one of the most powerful Marvel heroes out there. In addition to super strength and some squirrel-esque features — including a bushy tail — she can speak with squirrels and is skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

Vayntrub loves voicing the character, telling Showbiz Junkies that they have a lot in common. According to Vayntrub, when she first read about Squirrel Girl in the comics, she "felt like she talks like I talk." She added that both she and the character she voices are into "teamwork, girl power, [and] squirrels," making it a match made in heaven. There are some physical differences, of course. Squirrel Girl is a green-eyed redhead, while Vayntrub has brown hair and brown eyes. Still, the bond is real. "I feel like Squirrel Girl is not just my spirit animal, she is my spirit," she said.

Vayntrub was also cast to play the character in a live-action show called "New Warriors." Images of the actress in costume were tweeted in a now-deleted thread from showrunner Kevin Biegel, and she looked amazing. Unfortunately, Biegel wrote in his thread (via Gizmodo) that the show was axed by an executive who thought that "it was too gay," so we may never see Vayntrub on screen as Squirrel Girl. 

Milana Vayntrub is a stand-up comic

We've established that Milana Vayntrub is super talented, but did you know that she's also a stand-up comic? She started doing stand-up in 2013, which she noted in a 2021 Instagram post in which she shared a screenshot of a conversation she had with "Saturday Night Live" alum Norm Macdonald. The screenshot was posted to commemorate Macdonald, who died of cancer in September 2021 (via Deadline), but it also provided some insight into Vayntrub's wide range of talents.

In the screenshot, she jokes about doing stand-up while pretending to be her dad, writing, "I put on a mustache and talk about how disappointed I am in my daughter." Hilarious, right?

Vayntrub's comedic talents can be seen live in NYC; a 2019 Instagram photo shows her performing at the city's Gotham Comedy Club. She wrote in the caption, "Hi. I live in New York now. Please send thoughts, prayers and stage time."