Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video has been watched over 170 million times since it premiered on Vevo in March, and countless viewers have had the same question: Who exactly is that beautiful brunette? Her name is Emily Ratajkowski. Here are 10 things you probably don’t know about the 21-year-old model.
1. Her last name isn’t nearly as hard to pronounce as it seems. “The J is silent,” she says. “That’s the trick. Occasionally people get it right on the first try, just through random luck. People have told me to change it over the years, but my dad is always saying, ‘Never change your name!’ My middle name is O’Hara, so it’s a pretty epic name. Emily O’Hara Ratajkowski.”
2. She was born in London. “My mother is an English professor, and she was teaching on Fulbright there at the time,” she says. “I was real into theater, and then I tried soccer, acting and ballet. Both my parents didn’t want a child-star model, so I didn’t get into modeling until I was 14.” When people online accused her of having breast implants, Emily tweeted a photo of herself in a bikini when she was 14. It ended the speculation.
3. She was on a 2010 episode of iCarly. “I played Gibby’s girlfriend,” she says. “It was my first and only acting job. I didn’t grow up with TV, so I didn’t even know what the show was when I auditioned. I only did two episodes, so I was just on set about two weeks.”
4. She went to UCLA. “I went through a whole year, which is four quarters,” she says. “Things started to pick up with modeling and I had to decide whether to stay in school or pursue this full time.”
5. Before she filmed the “Blurred Lines” video, Emily was in Maroon 5’s video for “Somebody.” “Not long after making that video, my agent called me,” she says. “He had the offer from Robin Thicke’s people.”
6. She initially turned down the “Blurred Lines” video. “On paper it sounded pretty crazy,” she says. “It was naked girls dancing around, and we didn’t know what it would actually turn out like. We turned it down, and then two days later [director] Diane Martel called my agent and was like, ‘Look, just let me meet with her.’ We really got along and I was like, ‘You’re the person in charge of this? Cool!’ Then when the rate was negotiated we sort of decided, ‘Well, it can’t hurt you.’ It’s pretty funny, because it obviously didn’t hurt me at all.”
7. The censored and uncensored video were both shot in a single day. “Diana talked about the marching, and the playful energy of the whole thing,” Emily says. “It was just completely ridiculous, and so much fun. The whole thing is supposed to be silly. Lots of people don’t catch that. They’ll tweet me and say, ‘I like the video, but what the hell is that dog doing there?’ I mean, the whole thing is random.”
8. Despite not having a TV as a child, she grew up worshipping Michael Jackson. “I was obsessed with him,” she says. “I’d catch the video for ‘Bad’ and just think it was amazing. It’s so iconic. There’s this crazy emotional part that would never work today, but it draws you in. Then all of a sudden, there’s this simple kind of theatrical set up that turns into a ridiculous war between dancers.”
9. Acting isn’t her priority at the moment. “I’ll go into these meetings with studios,” she says. “They’ll say to me, ‘We’re so excited to have you audition for this.’ I’ll be like, ‘Have you ever seen me act?’ They feel I have a presence on camera. The attention from the fashion world is something that I didn’t expect. I’ve shot with Bruce Weber and met Karl Lagerfeld. Having that kind of attention is really exciting.”
10. For now, she’s done with music videos. “We’re avoiding videos right now,” Emily says. “There’s a lot of upcoming stuff I can’t talk about, but I want to be a model who breaks boundaries. I’m not typical. I’m not 5’10”. I’m not an A-cup. I think the industry is moving towards this direction. Basically, I want to be successful in this industry so that down the line I can invest in other projects, like movies that I love or an artist or a photographer. Maybe I’ll eventually become a producer, but for the next three or four years I really just want to be a successful model and actress.”