We’ve done several interviews and features here on the Models1 blog but not many have received the kind of traction brought in by Emma Laird. An established model, aspiring actress, and fierce environmentalist, Laird spoke to us back in 2014 about becoming a model and in the years since, her devoted fans have kept it at the top of our blog month after month. What makes her so different? Apart from her classic looks, Emma has a lively Youtube channel where she details her life as a vegan model, traveling for work and with friends around the world. Of course much has changed in the four years since we’ve last interviewed her and with her acting career pushing forward, we thought now would be the perfect time to catch up.
M1: We last interviewed you in 2014, at that time you had only been with Models 1 for about a year, what have been some of the biggest changes for you since then?
EL: Well first of all, hello again. It’s been a while hasn’t it? I was very much thrown in at the deep end when I first started. Everything was exciting because it was all new to me, I didn’t have a clue about this industry. I moved to London from a small town and worked my butt off for the first couple of years to the point where I was overworking myself with location shoots, late nights editorials and just not having that time for self love.
I’ve got a lot more stability in my life now. Probably because I’m grateful for the opportunities I have now, I know the industry a lot more and I’m actually confident. And I know where I want to go with my career now. When I first started I had a lot of self doubt. I wasn’t sure how long I would be modelling. Four years later here I am still.
M1: In what ways has your modelling career shaped your life since you were signed?
EL: I’m more confident. Not in an arrogant way, I was just never the pretty girl at school and it’s nice that I’m in a job where I’m appreciated for the way I look (ginger hair and freckles and all). It’s hard to say how it has shaped my life because before this all I knew was school. I just feel like I’ve really lived and experienced what life is because I’ve grown up. What my life would be like if I hadn’t have fallen into this, I don’t have a clue!
M1: As your modelling career developed, what were some aspects of the industry that have taken you by surprise?
EL: The hard work, time, effort and the team behind the scenes that make a photo shoot!
M1: What is one thing you know now that you wish you had known when you became a full-time model?
EL: That everyone is late in fashion. Could’ve saved myself a good few hours in bed if I wasn’t so punctual!
M1: Tell us a bit about your best moments from the past four years – jobs, achievements etc.
EL: Seeing my face on billboards was a big on and I know it’s a cliche and I’ve said it in other interviews but the people I’ve met over the past few years have truly been life changing for me. It’s not very diverse where I come from so to be surrounded by so many different cultures and to be able to travel is something I’m extremely grateful for. I have some great friends all over Europe, the states, Australia who’re actors, musicians, photographers, designers etc. I’ve just met along the way.
It’s inspiring to be surrounded by such talents. In a way, they’ve made me realise my own potential because they’ve set the bar so high!
M1: Have you found your own personal style has changed since you’ve been working in Fashion?
EL: Hell yes. I was always a tomboy at school. I’d play football with all the boys at break time. And I mean in year 11, so I was 16. I’ve always been mad on sports and not too bothered about high streets clothing which most of my friends wore. I could also never afford to shop at Topshop as a teenager so I made do with what I already had. But I guess working in fashion has changed my style in the sense that I’ve found that it’s ok to really dress how you want and not how you see most girls dressing on Instagram. I hate all of that. Contour and sequins aren’t my thing. I’m more of a bleach my eyebrows and wear an oversized football top gal.
M1: If you could give a new model any one piece of advice you wish you’d been given 4 years ago, what would that be?
EL: To say no when they want to. I’ve been in situations at a young age where I’ve been asked to take a bra off when I wasn’t ready or comfortable to do something like that. Those things should always be discussed with agents prior to a shoot. Not during the shoot when the model is often vulnerable and feels uncomfortable saying no. You just have to say ‘you should call my agent to check that that is ok’. That usually works.
And just remembering that the way you look is different to other models and that’s a good thing. You are always going to be in a room at a casting with girls you think are doing better than you or more beautiful than you. Just remember that you’re look will book you jobs that the other girls won’t and the other way around too.
M1: You started a YouTube channel a while back that has taken off in the past year, what made you start that and why do you think people were so drawn to it?
EL: I just really wanted to spread the message about veganism from an environmental point of view. I used to run a blog about sharks and the ecosystems in our oceans but found videos were more engaging. We really can’t survive without our oceans and they’re in decline right now. Going vegan really is one of the best things you can do for the planet. So I picked up a camera and soon fell in love with being behind it too, editing especially!
I think what people were drawn to initially was the fact that I’m a model and I’m being open about eating food and showing a really personal side of my life online. People love seeing food, let’s be real. But it probably grew fast because I just don’t have a filter. I’m still figuring out if that’s a good thing…
M1: At what point did Environmentalism start to become a focal point for you?
EL: Always. Like I said it’s always been a big passion of mine. The oceans always interested me, there’s so much mystery and fear there that drew me to them. I remember when I was in primary school, around the age of 8 my boyfriend drew me a picture of a shark and that sealed the deal really. I still have that drawing to this day!
M1: Is it difficult at times being an environmentalist in fashion with concerns about waste and ethically sourced materials?
EL: I get asked this question a lot actually and I’m glad because it actually keeps me on my toes being conscious whilst shopping. Luckily I’ve always loved thrift shopping. eBay, depop, charity shops (you can’t beat the American ones though). But it’s not difficult. I’m doing more and more sustainable fashion shoots for the likes of ELLE and Oh Comely. You have to focus on the positives in life or you find yourself bogged down with so much negativity.
M1: You’ve added “actress” to your resume – what can you tell us about your introduction to that?
EL: I was going through a really rough time in New York last year and I impulsively went to an open audition at New York Film Academy. The casting director said there was a spot for me but I had to start on Monday. I took it and it was the best decision of my life. It really helped me express myself and allow my mind an escape route from the mess that I was in at the time.
M1: Who or what were some of your childhood inspirations? Did they drive you more towards music or acting?
EL: I always loved live music. All of my money went on gigs when I was a teenager. I don’t know where it comes from exactly. There’s just an atmosphere at gigs that you really can’t describe. It was through school that I fell in love with acting. I then begged my mum to take me to acting classes when I was really young – 6 or 7 maybe. I was adamant that I wouldn’t miss a class even when I was ill. So mum drove me to the class one week and I threw up all over her car on the way there. She never took me back after that.
M1: What does modelling do for you intrinsically that acting does not – is there a difference at all?
EL: Make money hahaha. Modelling allows me the creative freedom to spend money on amazing film schools and to work on smaller budget films. I love modelling but acting really is my passion. I’m very aware that modelling has helped me with my acting career- there are certain skills that do transfer to acting.
M1: You have this radiance that just bounces through the room when you’re at the agency, where do you think it comes from? Is something you’ve always had?
EL: I think it’s literally just that I love the agency. I love talking to you guys and hearing about my upcoming projects. I look forward to going into the agency and I’ve never had that relationship with agents before. I also just love taking advantage of filling my water bottle up and using the toilets when I’m in the city haha.
M1: Obviously, we’ll be interviewing you again as your star rises, where do you anticipate your career will be then?
EL: I’m not really thinking about the far future. I hope the films that I’m filming now will take me to some cool film festivals but I prefer to set smaller goals than work towards one big direction that I want my career to go in. As long as I’m practicing my craft and surrounding myself with my awesome friends I’m happy.
Who knows, maybe I’ll get another hair job and be bald or something next time.
M1: Bonus question – if you could’ve written any movie, book, or song, what would they have been?
EL: Well I’m currently reading The Curious Case of The Dog in The Night and it’s such a great book. Really easy to read and so funny!
Maybe Harry Potter. Imagine being JK Rowling and seeing the world you created in your head come to life as a tourist attraction!!
You can find Emma’s portfolio HERE and follow her on Instagram @EmmLaird
Credits: Emma Laird photographed for Oh Comely Magazine