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Emily Ratajkowski Bio
Emily Ratajkowski (born June 7, 1991) is an American actress and model. Born to American parents in London and raised primarily in California, she rose to prominence in 2013 after appearing in the music video for Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines“, which became the number one song of the year in several countries and attracted controversy over its purported sexist content.
Ratajkowski’s modeling career has progressed from retail ad work to art house erotica and high fashion. She appeared on the cover of the March 2012 issue of the erotic magazine treats!, which led to her being asked to appear in two music videos – “Blurred Lines” and Maroon 5‘s “Love Somebody“. She appeared in the 2014 and 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. Ratajkowski made her professional runway modeling debut for Marc Jacobs at New York Fashion Week in 2015 and has since walked on the Paris Fashion Week runway for Miu Miu. She appeared in a Buick Super Bowl commercial during Super Bowl 50.
Ratajkowski began acting as a child in the San Diego area before she gained a recurring role on iCarly and later roles in major films. Her feature film debut was as the mistress of Ben Affleck‘s character in the 2014 film Gone Girl. Ratajkowski’s 2015 roles included the films Entourage and We Are Your Friends (her first leading role) as well as the miniseries The Spoils Before Dying.
Ratajkowski is an advocate for women’s health issues as a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood and supports the right of women to express their sexuality. Her claim to being a feminist has been both supported and disputed. She is known for her sex appeal and fashion sense.
With encouragement from an acting coach, Ratajkowski met and signed with a talent agent who contacted Ford Models. That same day, she signed with Ford at age 14 and went on to do teen print catalog modeling for Kohl’s and Nordstrom. At 15, Ratajkowski began auditioning for Disney and iCarly roles, but as she pursued acting she was often cast as a “bitchy girl”, cheerleader, or other limited role. She attended San Dieguito Academy high school in San Diego, while modeling and acting in Los Angeles. After two nondescript movie roles, she appeared as Gibby’s girlfriend, Tasha, in two episodes of the third season of Nickelodeon‘s iCarly (2009–2010). Her manager discouraged her from pursuing many acting engagements until she could be more selective.
Ratajkowski attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for one year in 2009, then decided to model full-time. She found the fine art education at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture arbitrary and in conflict with her artistic concepts. She did not enjoy socializing with fellow students.
After campaigns and editorials with photographer Tony Duran, Ratajkowski began shooting more fashion editorials and posed for several early issues of the artistic erotica magazine treats!, including the cover of its third issue, in March 2012. She credits that cover for bringing her the two unsolicited, high-profile, music video roles. Ratajkowski later filmed commercials for Nikon and Carl’s Jr., including multiple versions of a 2012 Carl’s Jr. commercial with Sara Jean Underwood. She also did nude and clothed art magazine modeling, as well as work for Frederick’s of Hollywood; a 2012 holiday video and a 2011 Valentine’s video in which Ratajkowski appeared for the company are among the most popular videos on the company’s YouTube channel. Ratajkowski worked with photographer Tony Kelly for the March 2013 GQ Turkey cover.
Music video performances
Ratajkowski appeared in Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell Williams‘s 2013 video, “Blurred Lines“. Previously, Ratajkowski had been cast in two other music videos: “Fast Car” by Taio Cruz, which was released on November 5, 2012, and Maroon 5‘s “Love Somebody“, which was released two months after “Blurred Lines”.
“Love Somebody”, shot on January 13, and “Blurred Lines” were both produced in 2013. The video for “Love Somebody” was released on May 21, 2013. Directed by Rich Lee, it shows bare-chested Adam Levine using inverse green screen technology to rub paint onto Ratajkowski with his hands. As they touch, they reveal each other.
Thicke had seen Ratajkowski’s treats! cover that The New York Times‘s Bee Shapiro described as “an artfully composed black-and-white photograph of Ms. Ratajkowski sitting completely nude with her knees tucked to her chest” and convinced director Diane Martel to cast her in the “Blurred Lines” music video. Martel felt that “she looked smart and stunningly beautiful” in the photo. Ratajkowski initially declined the role, fearing being classified as a music video model, but Martel persuaded her. The video was released on March 20, 2013. On March 28, Thicke posted an explicit version, with a topless Ratajkowski.
“Blurred Lines” was controversial: its video was called sexist for its perceived degradation of women, and some felt its lyrics promoted rape. Others disagreed, asserting that the lyrics supported female power and sexual freedom. Martel defended Ratajkowski’s performance, saying: “it’s very, very funny and subtly ridiculing.” Ratajkowski did not think of the video as sexist and claimed that the producers, through the use of humor and sarcasm, “took something that on paper sounded really sexist and misogynistic and made it more interesting”. She said that the song “gave me an opportunity to say the things that I felt about feminism today and about women in general in pop culture.” Ratajkowski did not feel objectified and enjoyed performing in a sexual manner: the attention given to the nudity in the video, she said, shows that America has not advanced as far as it should have, and, she believes, society represses sexuality, which is bad for both sexes.
“Blurred Lines”, and Ratajkowski’s associated video performance, was prominent beyond the sociopolitical controversies. The song became the number one song of 2013 on music charts in many countries, including Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Although second on the year-end US Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song’s twelve consecutive weeks at number one made it the longest-running number one song of the decade until “Uptown Funk” spent fourteen consecutive weeks at number one in 2015. The song also remained in the news due to a copyright infringement lawsuit and appeal.
The “Blurred Lines” video garnered Ratajkowski notoriety, especially as a sex symbol. In October 2013, Esquire magazine named Ratajkowski “Woman of the Year”, over online fan vote finalist Jennifer Lawrence. That December, Rolling Stone magazine listed her among its twenty hottest sex symbols. In February 2014, Sports Illustrated magazine named Ratajkowski as one of twelve 50th anniversary swimsuit issue rookies. In April, FHM ranked her the fourth sexiest woman in the world. Maxim magazine included Ratajkowski at number 62 on its 2014 Hot 100 list. AskMen ranked her the third most desirable woman of 2014.
Ratajkowski was on the July 2013 cover of CR Fashion Book, which included erotic scenes with Karlie Kloss and male models, photographed by Bruce Weber. On June 24, she appeared topless in the July 2014 American GQ cover story, photographed by Michael Thompson. A controversy ensued at retailer Lands’ End, some of whose customers received the issue for free. Some customers objected to the racy images, forcing Lands’ End CEO Edgar Huber to apologize.
Ratajkowski leveraged her sudden prominence into supporting roles in major films. Ratajkowski played Andie Fitzgerald, the mistress of Ben Affleck‘s character, in David Fincher‘s 2014 adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s novel Gone Girl. Affleck encouraged Fincher to consider Ratajkowski after seeing the “Blurred Lines” video. U-T San Diego described Ratajkowski’s performance as “nuanced”, while Andrew O’Hehir of Salon and Wesley Morris of Grantland wrote that her small role as a “duplicitous and manipulative former student” was critical. Reflecting on the performance in 2016, Wolf described Ratajkowski’s portrayal as sympathetic and compassionate.
Days after Gone Girl‘s September 26, 2014, New York Film Festival premiere, Ratajkowski became the cover model for the November 2014 issue of Cosmopolitan. On October 30, 2014, she appeared with Taylor Kitsch in the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare live-action trailer. Ratajkowski appeared on the February 2015 FHM cover, but she tweeted that her picture was used without her consent. FHM responded that “we liked the pictures so much we stuck one on our front cover”.
Ratajkowski co-starred in the 2015 film Entourage as a fictionalized version of herself, playing the love interest of Adrian Grenier‘s character, Vincent Chase. Her performance received critical commentary ranging from “less than compelling”, by the The Hollywood Reporter‘s Sheri Linden, to “uncanny realism”, by The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Steven Rea. Grantland‘s Morris described her role and performance with scathing sarcasm. She was also cast in the 2015 miniseries The Spoils Before Dying as Agent Day, appearing late in the series. Her performance was favorably reviewed by Emily L. Stephens of The A.V. Club, while other critics commented that she was part of a solid supporting cast.
Ratajkowski earned her first leading role, opposite Zac Efron, in We Are Your Friends, a musical drama released in August 2015, and was part of the film’s promotional tour to Europe and North America. Starting with the August 11 London premiere, this tour marked her ascension as a style icon as she earned multiple best dressed citations from various sources. She played Stanford University dropout Sophie, the love interest of Efron’s character and girlfriend/personal assistant of Wes Bentley‘s character. Her performance received mixed reviews. Alonso Duralde of TheWrap described the role as thin, as did Ty Burr of The Boston Globe. Burr said that Ratajkowski’s performance was “surpassingly dull”, while Nell Minow of Beliefnet stated that she “does more posing than acting”. Kyle Smith of the New York Post described her performance as “quietly entrancing”, and Jordan Hoffman of the Daily News described Ratajkowski’s performance as “stunning and sweet”. Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph and Grantland‘s Morris noted Ratajkowski’s rhythmic dancing skills and sex appeal, as previously seen in “Blurred Lines”.
Around the time of the release of We Are Your Friends, Ratajkowski appeared on the covers of Grazia France, British GQ, harper by Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle UK, and InStyle Australia, as well as a role as a 2015 MTV Video Music Awards presenter. The British GQ cover story was photographed by Mario Testino, who produced a short film featuring Ratajkowski for the magazine’s website. Soon after, on September 17, 2015, she made her runway debut for Marc Jacobs at the spring/summer 2016 New York Fashion Week finale. This appearance contributed to her number one listing among Vogue‘s 12 Breakout Beauty Stars of 2015. For fall/winter 2016 fashions, Ratajkowski walked the Paris Fashion Week runway for Miu Miu on March 9, 2016. She has expressed the desire to break barriers for shorter and more curvaceous models, commenting: “You don’t have to be 5’9″ and an A-cup to be a successful model.”
A Buick Super Bowl ad for its Cascada convertible during Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016, featured Ratajkowski and Odell Beckham, Jr. The ad, in which she made a wedding bouquet catch reminiscent of Beckham’s famous catch from 2014, received average ratings, according to USA Today‘s admeter. The ad was filmed with a stunt double making the catch. Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche featured Ratajkowski in a spring 2016 campaign wearing almost nothing but body chains, rings, bracelets, pendants, and chokers. In May, Ratajkowski appeared in the Russian-language music video “Inseparable” (sometimes translated as “Indivisible”) with Russian entertainer Dima Bilan as a photographer and Ratajkowski as his muse.
As of June 2016, Ratajkowski has a variety of upcoming roles. She will play Jessica Weintraub, the female lead opposite Spencer Boldman in the film Cruise, which is written and directed by Robert Siegel. Ratajkowski was hired as part of the cast of the film In Darkness, alongside Natalie Dormer, Ed Skrein, and Stacy Martin. She will also be involved in Joe Swanberg‘s Netflix series, Easy. In June 2016, she stated she was filming for Project Runway. Ratajkowski was one of five models to appear on the August 2016 Vogue Germany alternate covers along with Stella Maxwell, Irina Shayk, Lily Aldridge and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Along with Joan Smalls and Kate Upton, Ratajkowski was one of three models for the October Glamour cover. The cover story, which was shot by Carter Smith and includes an essay by Ratajkowski, says she has become known as an activist who considers being both sexual and serious to be non-conflicting ambitions.
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