Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of Cazzie David

Born in 1994, Cazzie David is an unusual performer in that she's had a lot of success in a variety of art forms. She's a best-selling essayist and has a regular column with the web magazine Air Mail. She's an actress who made her debut at 13 and most recently took on a physically demanding role as an antagonist on the third season of the Netflix superhero show "The Umbrella Academy." She's a screenwriter and producer who had a web series called "Eighty-Sixed," working with her college writing partner. She's a celebrity who had a highly publicized breakup with "Saturday Night Live" comedian Pete Davidson, who thereafter dated Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian (for her part, David went on to date the brother of late rapper Mac Miller). 

Oh, and she's also the daughter of "Seinfeld" co-creator Larry David and influential environmentalist Laurie David, who divorced amicably in the late 2000s (via People). Her career has seen her follow both parents' paths in different ways. Cazzie is also passionate about her mental illness issues, the role of Generation Z (technically late millennials) in society, how social media uses and is used by its consumers, and so much more. Let's find out more about this eclectic intellectual and artist who's a budding star in multiple fields.

Playing a nasty Sparrow

In the third season of Netflix's "The Umbrella Academy," Cazzie David plays Jayme Hargreeves, an especially unhinged member of the Sparrow Academy. This is the group of superheroes created by the Umbrella Academy's adoptive father, Reginald Hargreeves, after they went back in time and convinced him that he was going to adopt them one day. He was so repulsed by them that he found a completely different group of children to adopt, and Jayme was one of them. 

Jayme has an especially bizarre power: she has venom sacs in her mouth with which she can spit a hallucinogenic toxin. Any contact of this toxin with her opponents' skin immediately puts them in a sweaty, intense, and realistic dream. Speaking about the character, David said "Jayme is very sarcastic, which is the only way I really know how to communicate. She is really apathetic." The showrunner told her he wanted her to be "super disinterested," and her response was that "the most enthusiastic I could possibly be would still seem like I didn't care at all." She noted that she drew inspiration from the apathetic but tough roles that actresses like Aubrey Plaza, Lizzy Caplan, and Shailene Woodley have played.

That said, David loves superheroes. "I'm pretty much obsessed with all superhero stuff. My dad would get me comics when I was little so I've been following it since I was young." And as a self-described "goth teen," she was excited to be connected to a story that My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way originated. 

Growing up with Larry David

"Cazzie" is not a nickname. It's David's actual first name, as her father Larry David decided to name her after former New York Knicks All-Star guard Cazzie Russell (via Coveteur). She said, "My dad is that much of a Knicks fan that he had to give me the craziest name ever." 

Growing up, Cazzie had no real idea that her father was famous. She was four years old when "Seinfeld" ended and "was in elementary school when 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' started...It was never spoken about, never thought about" (via W Magazine).  

Part of that came from growing up in Los Angeles, where many rich kids have parents in the entertainment industry. She said that in elementary school, "this girl came up to me and was like, 'My dad's show is better than your dad's show.'" As it turns out, now that Cazzie's older, "Curb" is her favorite show. She confessed, "how embarrassing is that? I have to hide if I'm watching it when someone is coming over. It's so weird if I'm watching it."

She became an intern on "Curb" after she graduated from college, and her first day of work came after the 2016 presidential election. She was so upset about the result that she was in tears on the set. "Curb" co-star Jeff Garlin tried to comfort her. She realized, after noticing that no one else there was crying, that "everyone was talking about how I can't handle work." It's a social faux-pas that could have been on the shot itself!


In 2017, David debuted a web series on Complex called "Eighty-Sixed." It's about a young woman named Remi (played by David) going through a breakup and her desperate attempts to "win" the split. David said, "I never really thought I would be acting because I had really low confidence. But there was always an interest in writing. I would write stories sometimes and they would end up being unintentionally funny. When you're miserable, it can be funny. That's something my dad told me." 

She developed "Eighty-Sixed" with her college roommate Elisa Kalani. They started collaborating because "we thought it would lessen the homework load. It backfired and [their teachers] doubled it. Very annoying, but we realized we worked really well together."

They shot it in David's bedroom because she had a limited budget. The breakup playing out over social media was done intentionally, because that's where so many of these battles are fought for millennials. David noted, "I hadn't really seen an accurate representation of social media on television yet. There are a lot of hashtag and selfie jokes, but not a lot of satirizing the humiliation and obsession behind it in a realistic way." 

That plays out in one of the episodes where she is obsessively creating a social media identity to convince her ex that she's over him. "I care because I'm kind of trying to curate an image of me not caring." As the Atlantic said, this show is "'Curb Your Enthusiasm' for millennials."

An unlikely cameo

Cazzie David's first acting credit came at the age of 13 when she played herself, alongside her dad and sister, on an episode of "Hannah Montana." This bizarre bit of stunt casting for a cameo has never been publicly explained, other than speculation that Cazzie and Romy were teens and possibly fans of the show. Larry David himself later made fun of Disney shows in Season 7 of "Curb," when he befriends a 9-year-old girl through a staff member on his "Seinfeld" reunion and she peppers him with annoying questions. He eventually sends her an all-caps text that says, "No, I don't watch 'Wizards of Waverly Place!' I am an adult!"

The scene in "Hannah Montana" plays like a very famous one from "Seinfeld." Larry, Cazzie, and Romy are all waiting for a table at a restaurant when the maitre d' tells him there are no tables available. Larry lies to him that it was Romy's birthday, and then Cazzie's birthday when Romy denies it. When Hannah Montana walks in and instantly gets a table, Larry is indignant. Cazzie tells the maitre d' that Larry created "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but he's unimpressed. Romy tells Larry, "Face it dad, she's bigger than you" and Cazzie complains that Uncle Jerry (as in Seinfeld) could have gotten them a table. 

The intern and the embarrassment of privilege

A running theme in Cazzie David's life—and something she's written about extensively—is how her anxiety bleeds into every aspect of her life, and how it's magnified on social media. One example came when she got a college internship at "Vanity Fair." The editor, Graydon Carter, was a friend of her father's and the co-creator of the seminal '80s/'90s satirical magazine "Spy." David was assigned to review "Lovelace," the biopic of controversial "Deep Throat" star Linda Lovelace. While Carter said that he loved the review, there was some blowback about nepotism giving her an undeserved opportunity. 

David said that piece "totally wrecked me. It made me feel so awful. But it didn't stop me, it seems." Being hyper-aware of her privilege goes hand in hand with her anxiety, and she knows there's nothing that she can say about it. She explains, "The worst thing about being privileged is that people just genuinely hate you for it. It's a really good burn. It totally shuts you up. Yeah, I am...I always apologize to my dad, like, 'I'm so sorry. This is so embarrassing that I'm someone we would make fun of.'"

Cazzie David has just made a career out of exposing her own embarrassment, both in her writing and in the roles she chooses. 

Air Mail

Graydon Carter was serious when he said that he enjoyed the then 19-year-old David's piece that she wrote for his Vanity Fair magazine—so much so that he hired her as a regular contributor for his next venture, a web-only publication called Air Mail. He said that "We saw Cazzie as a Nora [Ephron] for a new generation. Right off the bat I thought [she] was going to be a star. She's got her father's DNA in her writing and her mother's energy in her spirit." 

At Air Mail, David has covered a wide variety of topics. She naturally offers takes regarding youth culture and the internet, like discussing Gen Z's growing disinterest in direct action and move toward conspicuous consumption. She's reviewed books, interviewed her environmental activist mother, and talked about issues regarding COVID-19. 

However, it's her takes about social media that are her hottest. She decried TikTok's perpetuation of "unattainable beauty standards." She discussed how the quarantine made posting selfies to Instagram even more narcissistic. She examined her own dependence on Instagram and addiction to smartphones in general. As always, even when she's providing larger cultural critiques, she never leaves herself out of that examination. It's not so much disingenuous self-deprecation as it is a humorous acknowledgment of her own privilege and complicity.

No One Asked for This

The editor of David's book, "No One Asked for This," was Kate Napolitano of Houghton Mifflin. She won David over by saying she wanted to work with someone interested in "the craft of writing" but not someone writing for "part of a brand." Their mutual goal was to discuss "mental health in a way that felt unvarnished, and that's not always pretty." The book opens with a psychological exam she got at age 12 which noted that she was easily upset, negative, sad, and felt misunderstood. It's both a harrowing thing to read and a hilarious shaggy dog story, because it goes on forever. 

David said it "was easier to write about myself as if I were writing about a character because it made me less self-conscious about my own flaws. I could write about all of the worst parts of me without judging myself and amplify them." She said it was cathartic to write about anxiety and shame, because "It allows you to have perspective, and it just becomes smaller when it's on paper." 

When asked how she remembered so many stories so clearly, she said, "Most of the essays are about things I spent a lot of time obsessing over...The thing about my anxiety, or obsessive thoughts, is that once I eventually stop panicking and take a step back, I'll realize...I actually just thought of a bunch of material. So that was the core of this book: what I was having anxiety over."

The big breakup with Pete Davidson

David recorded the details of her breakup with former boyfriend and "Saturday Night Live" star Pete Davidson in harrowing detail in her book. She met Davidson on the set of "Saturday Night Live," thanks to her father, who had previously made appearances playing Bernie Sanders. She said, "'SNL' has literally set up so many couples...I met him when my dad was hosting, and I was very interested. I was definitely the one trying to make it happen."

They dated for nearly three years, and after they broke up, Davidson got engaged to singer Ariana Grande. In talking about the breakup, Cazzie said that she had initiated the split at first, although she was hesitant to do so because she worried about Davidson's mental health. Just days after breaking up with him, she called back to say she made a mistake, but Davidson had already moved on. He was already dating Grande and covered up the tattoos he had of her. 

Traveling with her father, she was inconsolable on the plane ride and in their hotel room, "screaming in agony." At one point, her dad yelled at her, "Cazzie, come on! Your ancestors survived the holocaust!" This was the most Larry David thing to say imaginable. 

She later said, "It was a really pivotal moment in my life. And writing about it has caused me a ton of anxiety. But there's nothing that's gonna be worse than what I already experienced with that."

Managing anxiety

David drew humor from the idea of her being a neurotic character, "a girl with so much self-loathing, anxiety and depression that she 'can't handle the things that other people can deal with effortlessly.'" While her anxiety has lessened, it hasn't gone away, even after trying meds, therapy, and inpatient treatment. Of her condition, she says "There's a difference between having stress and having an anxiety disorder, and that's never feeling safe or comfortable or like the rug is gonna be pulled out from under you at any second." 

Regarding how she deals with it: "I'm the same person, I'm just anxious about more grown-up things. I mean, the state of the world is number one on the list, I think everyone feels that weight. But beyond that: My particular phone anxieties change monthly."

Her father being who he is, he had his own take on Cazzie's issues. "I don't encourage her to get well. I don't encourage her to like herself. I tell her: 'Don't change a thing.' She's already a better writer than me."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Following in her mom's footsteps

Cazzie's mother Laurie is famous in her own right for her extensive environmental activism as a writer and filmmaker. It's an issue that's become important to Cazzie as well. When asked what she hopes humanity will achieve in the next fifty years, David replied "I hope there will be a complete redo of our energy system, no more coal and fossil fuels as well as massive agreements and progress with India and China. I've been programmed by my environmentalist mother."

David did an interview with her mother for Air Mail. She opened by talking about the ways her mother embarrassed her as a teen because she cared about the environment so much, saying she was "yelling at any friend of mine who comes over holding a plastic water bottle my entire childhood." Cazzie eventually realized "she's actually really cool, and instead of spending your adolescence...absorbing all of the many prescient things she says, you spent it with random kids, hating your mom for caring more about the planet than not embarrassing you."

When asked why she became an environmentalist, Laurie told Cazzie, "Well, you actually had a lot to do with it! When I was pregnant with you...I started to really think about how to best protect you. It began with a heightened awareness of what I was eating...Once you start seeing things in terms of what is best for your baby's health, it leads to questioning everything. And that is a good thing."