Emily Ratajkowski must be one of the world’s most well-read glamazons. Just last week, the 24-year-old “I Feel Pretty” star parlayed her Instagram fame into negotiating to leave the laws in her native New York to pursue life in California — signing up to co-chair Palm Springs Film Festival, a move she bragged about on Instagram, and announcing her honorary internship with fashion agency IMG, where her grandmother once was a senior consultant.
But because Ratajkowski lives in a city where June Foray precedes Bonnie Raitt, she hadn’t done much time to become a veritable Dorothy. Speaking to the New York Times about this year’s festival, she explained that one of the reasons she had to leave New York is because “it seems cool and artsy, but it feels like a younger person’s world.” Her new home in Hollywood, however, has become a kind of resurrection. “There’s this really cool emerging scene,” she told the Times.
This second stint in Hollywood has come at an opportune time. Despite an acting career that doesn’t seem to have stalled, Ratajkowski’s gender fluidism — which the model made big news of when she tweeted that she thought “It’s About Time to Talk About the Sexist Undertones of Role Models”; her sexualized poses for Marc Jacobs; and her naked modeling (in Vogue! for Fenty Beauty!) — has never come more under the microscope. “We start with names like Joni Mitchell, then we start going down the totem pole,” says Manhattan-based, image-conscious culture writer Wendy Thurm. “But the fact that Ratajkowski, so early in her career, has set herself up as this feminist icon means that as more media stories are written about her, it is still so easy to relate to her and empathize with her.”
Last November, she created a stir on social media by Instagramming an open letter to her agent, saying that, the more she pursues roles that are “leading the way in terms of gender equality, the more I want to stop representing myself as a ‘girl’ and instead represent myself as a true agent of change and agency.” (“Boyz N the Hood” might not have happened if Brittany Murphy hadn’t gone off to school in grad school in the throes of heroin addiction, after all.) More than two weeks later, she resigned from IMG, which had left her feeling “on other sides of the equation,” she wrote on Instagram. “In light of this, I now feel a great responsibility as an agent representing women and girls in an industry that doesn’t support them or celebrate them in the ways they deserve.” (She continued to be represented by the agency London-based Wave Artists.)
While she admits that her family and friends “are all horrified,” Ratajkowski has not been insulted. “Even though I don’t use the word feminist, I like to try and take my power to bring attention to issues women face,” she told the Times. But at the same time, she’s realistic about what she wants to fight for — as well as who she wants to reach. “I’m going to always want to focus on empowering my female audience.”
Also, don’t ever be surprised if Robert Pattinson stops by one of her book clubs.