“If someone had told me three years ago that I would have written a book and published it, I wouldn’t have believed them,” Emily Ratajkowski tells us. “The biggest lesson for me was that if you want to do something and you put your mind to it and you’re really diligent…you can do it.”
The model, actress, activist, entrepreneur and writer has had a wide and varied professional life, from her early modeling days to her current success as a New York Times best-selling writer of essay collection. My body. In the premiere of our new series, how i got here, she sits down with us at Chiltern Firehouse, to reflect on her career to date, her landmark projects and how she faced setbacks along the way until she plans to ‘to come up.
“My first job was modeling,” she says. “I remember doing teen magazine and it was all very glamorous to me. The makeup artist tweezed my eyebrows too much…” While editorial modeling was Ratajkowski’s first career move, she first gained worldwide attention through her appearance in the Blurred lines music video in 2013; a video that has garnered its fair share of controversy.
“For a young girl getting into modeling today, I would tell her that agencies, even though they seem to be protecting you, aren’t,” she explains. “You have to learn to have your own boundaries and boundaries and take care of yourself. I think the industry really needs to change, but it’s a way for a young woman to protect herself.”
Ratajkowski’s career soared to new heights after 2013, with huge online success, cover shoots and acting opportunities, but it was never without its challenges. “There are so many times where I felt like a failure,” she says. “I’m very hard on myself in general. At first it would be not having an audition or being about to book a job and missing out – and I felt like it was all was collapsing.”
“There were so many times in my career where I thought about changing careers or giving up,” she said. “I quit modeling completely when I went to college and thought I was going to be an artist, then I left and started modeling full time, and then I kind of tried to act…I feel like I’m constantly evolving.”
“I think the biggest hurdle in my career was transitioning and doing things that people didn’t really expect,” she continues. “But I think you just have to go ahead and do what you’re going to do and be who you are.” She smiles as she details her varied interests and unexpected choices, preferring to describe these shifts as “not giving up…refocusing.”
His recently refocused career appears to be the most fulfilling for Ratajkowski. She founded her own clothing line, Inamorata, in 2017 and says that, and writing her book, have been her favorite jobs to date. “Having my own business and working with a group of women that I love, who are my friends…it’s been so nice,” she explains. “What I like now is that in my career things are more in my hands and under my control. Failures are more like road accidents than huge losses and I feel less impacted by others who say no.”
Despite a seemingly confident facade, Ratajkowski writes clearly about crippling insecurities and self-doubt in her book. “I was always very sure that I was never going to be as good as I wanted to be and I think getting past that and doing it, and even doing something bad and bad can be hugely important,” says -she. “The way to fight self-doubt is to keep working. It’s okay to have that feeling, just get over it.”
Her eloquence on everything from feminism, beauty and, yes, her body, came as a surprise to many – even though it shouldn’t have been. The book has already met with enormous critical and commercial success. “Enemies motivate me,” she laughs, at the inevitable understatement she received. “I like to prove myself.”
Watch our full video interview with Ratajkowski, above.
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