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Photo Stories

20 Questions with Anna Collins

July 5, 2016
Dream girl, Anna Collins, invited me over to her lace-trimmed bedroom for a quick game of 20 questions accompanied by Freddy, her King Charles Spaniel and BFF.

No stranger to answering questions, Anna runs a YouTube channel, where she gives advice to young girls on topics ranging from body image, sex, love, and anxiety. She is also a ballet teacher, with a strong love for girl power, family, and her dog, Freddy. I asked Anna if she had a place that was special to her, and she invited me over to her bedroom for a game of 20 questions and cuddles with Freddy.

Photos by Bianca Scarlato

Q1: Who is Anna Collins?
A: I’m a teacher. I love my friends and family, ballet, and my dog. I guess I’m a friend, a teacher, and a mother to my dog.

Q2: What’s your theme song?
A: I feel like a disco song… Well, actually it depends – Either Landslide by Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks, or Stars Are Blind by Paris Hilton or this disco song by Baccara called Yes Sir, I can Boogie.

Q3: What are you working on right now?
A: Right now I just finished with The Period Power Project, which is a collective with my friends, Jacqueline, Aurora, Izzy, and Sophie. We held an event to raise money for menstrual cups for women in Palomino, Columbia. In December, Sophie’s going to visit Palomino, distribute the menstrual cups, and teach women about using them. I think going forward our goal is to get feminine hygiene products accessible to women everywhere, even locally. I’m also trying to teach as much as I can. In July, I’m running a dance summer camp to teach ballet. I go to The National Ballet School, so I’m trying to teach as much as I can over the summer. In August, I’m going to The American Ballet Theatre to learn their dance curriculum. When I get back, I’ll go to Hungary with my mom and sister.

Q4: I know you have a YouTube Channel, where you give advice to younger girls, and you handle the Ask Anna column for Sopohmore Mag – What’s it like being a big sister to so many girls over the Internet?
A: It is stressful and I feel guilty a lot of the time because I’ve been so busy with school, and haven’t had time to keep up with it as much as I want to. I always get such amazing questions, and sometimes feel like I’m letting people down if I’m not doing it full time, but it’s also really rewarding. I guess a lot of my life I’m trying to give back to other people, because I’m also really passionate about teaching, so it really fulfills me and makes me happy when I get someone saying that I helped them. That’s all I want.

Q5: Who is your best friend?
A: Freddy and my sister, Petra… But mainly Freddy.

Q6: If you could join any real or fictional group of friends, who would you want to hang out with?
A: I really love my friends, but if I were to pick a fictional friend group, maybe I’d be part of The Heathers. That’d be really fun.

Q7: What do you do on your spare time?
A: I’m just discovering having spare time, because I’m usually in school seven days a week and working on projects, so my summer just started, like, yesterday. I do laundry on my spare time.

Q8: Why ballet?
A: I’ve done ballet since I was three and I think I feel most comfortable in it because it’s the most structured. You always know exactly what you’re doing and what you need to get out of a class. I feel that because my life isn’t as structured, I love just being in a structured and safe environment.

Q9: Where’s your favourite place to be?
A: Wherever my sister is, because I miss her all the time. So maybe New York? She lives there. I just feel at home when I’m with her.

Q10: What cheers you up when you’re feeling down?
A: Freddy. He’s seriously like a therapy dog. Looking into his eyes makes me wanna cry. Whenever I’m having a really bad day or am really stressed – I usually get anxiety and panic attacks at night, so Freddy sleeps with me. I’ll put him on my chest and he just puts me to sleep.

Q11: Where do you look for inspiration?
A: I look to my sister for a lot of inspiration. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by art and artistic people. My friends are inspiring with what they’re all doing, and my boyfriend is in a band, so I’m surrounded by good music. I usually just look to my friends.

Q12: Who is your hero?
A: My mom and my sister are my heroes. My mom immigrated here when she was in her 20s, and now that I’m around that age where she left her home, I can really appreciate that. She gave up her whole life to raise me and my sister. My sister followed the same path as my mom, leaving to New York, making it on her own, and being fully self-sufficient.

Q13: How did you learn about feminism? Was there a specific moment that changed the way you saw yourself and women in general?
A: I think it was gradual and something that was always there. My mom was always such a strong woman. When I was little we were always allowed to wear whatever we wanted and she never put any boundaries on us or censored us. I think that growing up with that was super important. Same thing with my dad — he never said no to anything. He totally appreciated everything we had to say. Seeing a man value and respect us so much was really important. I never really used the feminist label until high school, when my sister started doing more of that work. It was overall pretty gradual, I don’t think there was really a specific moment.

Q14: How has feminism influenced you and your art?
A: I think feminism really influences the way that I teach because I’m surrounded by really young and impressionable girls. I realize that everything I say is remembered and taken to heart. When you’re a kid you have your parents, and your teachers, and you really look up to your teachers, so I make sure to always reassure them that they’re strong, and can do whatever they want to do. I recently had a class that did their recital and I don’t know if I’m going to have them next year, so I wrote them each different cards to not give up, love dance, and continue being strong little women. Just doing something like that is influenced by me being a feminist.

Q15: What’s your favourite thing about being a girl?
A: Everything.

Q16: Tumblr or Instagram?
A: I’m kind of getting over both of them. I love Snapchat. But, if I had to choose, Instagram.

Q17: Calling or texting?
A: Texting. I get so nervous whenever I get a call. I only talk to my immediate family.

Q18: What’s your guilty pleasure?
A: Watching The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills or any Real Housewives franchise, and cuddling with Freddy while eating green tea ice-cream.

Q19: What’s in your ‘Continue Watching’ cue on Netflix?
A: Let me check… I’ve been watching Planet Earth. I love it and finished the whole thing. Oh! I love Chef’s Table! And Life – the animal shows.

Q20: If you could go back in time and visit your childhood self, what would you want young Anna to know?
A: That she is enough.