Emily O’Hara Ratajkowski is an American model and actress. Born in London to American parents and raised primarily in California, she rose to prominence after appearing in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, which became the number one song of the year 2013 in several countries. Following its success, she became a high profile sex symbol, appeared in the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and began a movie career.Ratajkowski’s modeling career has progressed from retail adwork to arthouse erotica and high fashion. She appeared on the cover of the March 2012 issue of erotic magazine treats! This led to her being asked to appear in two music videos. Among her other cover appearances are GQ, British GQ, Cosmopolitan, InStyle UK andFHM. She has now been in two Swimsuit Issues.Ratajkowski’s acting career began with youth acting roles 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. Her 2015 films included Entourage, We Are Your Friends with Zac Efron (her first leading role), and The Spoils Before Dying.
An only child,Ratajkowski was born in Westminster, London, to American parents.At the time of her birth her mother and father were aged 39 and 45, respectively,and not married;her mother Kathleen Balgley, a professor of English and writer described by Ratajkowski as a “feminist and intellectual”,was in London temporarily to teach under the Fulbright Program.Kathleen had met Emily’s father, John David “J. D.” Ratajkowski, a painter and art teacher,when they both taught at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, California, near San Diego.The family settled in San Diego when Ratajkowski was five.She was raised primarily in Encinitas in a small house near the ocean.Ratajkowski is of Jewish, Polish, Irish, and German descent.Her father was raised Catholic while her mother was raised Jewish, and teaches at the San Diego Jewish Academy.Her mother formerly taught at California Polytechnic State University, known as Cal Poly.
When asked about her heritage in 2012, Ratajkowski answered “Polish Israeli”, although she had not yet been to Israel.She lived in and traveled to many parts of Europe during her youth, and has described spending long periods in Bantry, County Cork, Ireland, and Mallorca, Spain.From her early youth to the start of her career as a full-time model she spent each summer in Ireland.She has said that she grew up without the influence of television. Before modeling, she tried soccer, acting and ballet.
Exposure to the nude female figure in photography and art during her formative years prepared Ratajkowski for her eventual nude and semi-nude appearances before the camera.Ratajkowski said she is comfortable with the naked body due to her background and life experiences, stating “We have this culture of men, especially, watching pornography, but then offended by a classic nude portrait or photograph, and I’ve never felt that way”.Her father’s work as a visual artist exposed her to nudity in art.Ratajkowski also frequently visited nudist beaches during her youth in Europe; she said, “Mom was topless on the beach every summer in Majorca”.Among her influences was exposure to the photography of Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts in books.As a young teen, she experienced pressure from friends, family and society due to her physical maturity and developing sexuality.
Ratajkowski enjoyed doing theatrical performances for her family as a child.Her first formal acting role was as Elsa in a production of The Little Match Girl at the Theatre School of the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, California.She also appeared as Harriet in the 2004 interactive production of Harriet Potter and the Throne of Applewort at Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza.After gaining local youth acting experience,
she was told that modeling could be a gateway into an acting career. She was inspired by Bianca Jagger and Patti Smith.Ratajkowski was signed by Ford Models at age 14.She continued to attend high school in San Diego at San Dieguito Academy, while she modeled and acted in Los Angeles.In her adolescent years, Ratajkowski decided to pursue an acting career, but in auditions she was often cast as a “bitchy girl”,cheerleader, or other limited roles she did not want.
After two nondescript movie roles, Ratajkowski appeared as Gibby’s girlfriend Tasha in two third-season episodes of Nickelodeon’s iCarly. Despite her previous minor film roles, she described her iCarly role as “my first and only acting job”.Her manager discouraged her from pursuing many acting engagements until she was in a position to be more selective.