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Ariel Winter on Mental Health, Trolls and Life After “Modern Family”

The changing seasons are always tumultuous, with storms washing away the stains of months past and nature struggling to shed or regrow. This spring has been particularly uncertain, to say the least. But in early March, when actor Ariel Winter showed up in Manhattan, it seemed spring had come early, and it wasn’t just the warm temperatures and premature blooms that indicated the shift.

On April 8, Modern Family will air its final episode, closing an 11-year chapter in Ariel’s life. The 22-year-old has played Alex Dunphy on the Emmy-winning show for exactly half of her life. With more than ten million viewers per episode, Ariel is very recognizable as Alex; she is someone viewers think they know. She has a dry sense of humor and a quick wit; she speaks fast and delivers punchlines with ease. In those ways, she’s like the character she plays on TV. But that’s where the comparison stops.

Ariel seems cognizant of the balance between performing, what people think Ariel Winter is like, and actually being Ariel Winter: She’s a smart, kind, and strong young woman who’s developeAriel is now emerging from the security of her long-running show as an adult, tasked with making her way in the world as a young woman. She’s still figuring out what that will look like.

“Life is not predictable,” Ariel tells Teen Vogue, sitting on a couch with her leg tucked under her newly red hair flowing over her shoulders. “That’s why it’s unknown and it’s scary. So I try to go with the flow as much as possible.” She’s just finished one photo shoot, and is pausing to chat before she rushes to another. “I do not like lack of control,” she adds. “I don’t like that. So that’s definitely been hard for me.”

But just because Ariel doesn’t know what the future holds doesn’t mean she doesn’t know who she is.d a thick skin over the years — but she’s not untouchable.

Some celebrities maintain a quiet, different-than-you air, even when you’re standing right next to them. But Ariel isn’t like that; she speaks easily and honestly and looks you in the eye. On a gray day in New York, stylists and makeup artists flurry around her, primping and preening her for a photo shoot. Ariel jokes with all of them, remaining flexible, working with the team to find outfits she likes. In front of the camera she moves with the confidence of someone who’s done this many times before. There’s no pretension to her.

Born Ariel Winter Workman, she grew up in Hollywood. Ariel first hit the scene at age five, in a Cool Whip commercial. After various smaller roles, she landed the part of Alex Dunphy on Modern Family, in 2009, when she was just 11, playing the nerdy middle child in a quirky but close family, often acting as the grounding presence in a head-in-the-clouds bunch. In real life, Ariel’s family life wasn’t quite as picturesque. She moved in with her sister, Shanelle Gray, when she was 14, and was legally emancipated from her mother — who she’s spoken about in the past — a year later. Continue reading “Ariel Winter on Mental Health, Trolls and Life After “Modern Family””

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Ariel Winter’s Next Chapter: Being Normal

Ariel Winter stepped on her first set — a commercial for Cool Whip — when she was just 4 years old. The Modern Family star, now 22, has lived her entire life inside Hollywood’s fishbowl, where social media trolls press their faces up against the glass and toss their unsolicited opinions into the water like bait. “They’re so detailed,” she says. “Somebody could comment a whole paragraph about one of my teeth all the way in the back, like, ‘Her canine is… too long and pointy!’ I wasn’t even smiling in any photo. How did you see that?” It’s no wonder that as Modern Family wraps its 11-season run, Winter finds herself craving mundanity. “A normal life is so precious,” Winter tells Elite Daily. “People inside Hollywood don’t realize that.”

Winter was homeschooled as a child, so the sets of the shows she guest-starred on functioned as her schoolyard. When she was 11, she didn’t crush on an awkward classmate, but on David Lyons, her uber-hot, much older, Australian ER co-star on ER. “It was never going to happen, obviously. But, in my heart, I was like, ‘Maybe.’” Lyons played a doctor who couldn’t save Winter’s character’s mom after a car accident, and the script called for her to aggressively fight him. “I don’t know what washed over me,” she says. “Instead of me trying to fight him off and run away, I just ran and jumped in his arms. It was like slow-mo. They cut and everyone was crying laughing. He was, and I was, mortified.”

Though Winter would have preferred not to make an absolute fool of herself in front of a film crew, going after her first crush, albeit unsuccessfully, was a rite of passage. She’s now on the cusp of another milestone: On April 8, Modern Family will air its series finale on ABC. Winter spent half her life playing Alex Dunphy, the highly intelligent middle child whose overachiever personality makes it hard to keep friends. In many respects, Winter is completely different from Alex — “[I] hated the clothes I had to wear” — but she still respects the hell out of the character. “What I’ve always liked about Alex is she always knew exactly what she wanted for her professional life,” she says.

Winter may not identify with Alex’s academic genius, but she can relate to feeling disconnected from her peers. “Homeschool is very isolating. I don’t really recommend it for people,” she says. “Having that life experience [is really important] — even though it will probably suck, because it sucks for everyone.” Winter moved in with her sister, Shanelle Gray, at 14 after being removed from her mother’s custody, and later emancipated, at which point she enrolled in “real” high school. “I was not good at it,” she says. “I didn’t really know how social interactions worked. I spent the majority of my life around adults, even as a kid. The majority of my friends were 20 years older than me. So I just wasn’t well-versed in talking to people my age.” Continue reading “Ariel Winter’s Next Chapter: Being Normal”