Emily O'Hara Ratajkowski was born on June 7, 1991, in Westminster, London, the only child of American parents, Kathleen Anne Balgley and John David "J.D." Ratajkowski. Balgley, who earned her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, became a lecturer of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She then taught American literature in Poland from September 1987 to July 1988, and again from September 1988 to July 1989, under the Fulbright Program. Balgley met Ratajkowski, a painter and art teacher, while they were both teaching at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, California. At the time of their daughter's birth, they were aged 39 and 45, respectively, and unmarried. Ratajkowski describes her mother as a "feminist and intellectual". The family lived in West Kensington and Bloomsbury before settling in San Diego, California, when Ratajkowski was five. She was raised primarily in nearby Encinitas. Balgley formerly taught at California Polytechnic State University, and as of 2011 , teaches at San Diego Jewish Academy.
Emily O'Hara Ratajkowski (/ˌrætəˈkaʊski/, Polish: [ratajˈkɔfskʲi]; born June 7, 1991) is an American model and actress. Born in London and raised in San Diego, Ratajkowski first appeared on the cover of the March 2012 issue of the erotic magazine treats!, which led to her appearing in two music videos – Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines" (the number-one song of 2013 in several countries) and Maroon 5's "Love Somebody".
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 typecast as a bully or cheerleader, and decided to stop auditioning until she had garnered enough fame to be more selective about her roles.
Before Ratajkowski left London at the age of five, she was obsessed with theater. She began acting as a child, staging shows for her family. Her earliest role was as Elsa in the North Coast Repertory Theatre School's The Little Match Girl. In 2004, she played Harriet in the interactive Lyceum Theatre production of Harriet Potter and the Throne of Applewort. Ratajkowski tried soccer, acting, and ballet before modeling.
Ratajkowski attended UCLA for one year in 2009, then decided to model full-time. She later said that she found the fine art education at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture arbitrary and in conflict with her artistic concepts, and that 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 modeling for magazines, including a May 2012 shoot with Jonathan Leder, 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.
According to a November 26, 2016, story on Page Six of the New York Post, 71 photographs taken by Leder in May 2012 were being printed in a publication by Imperial Publishing and set for display in a New York art gallery in February 2017. On November 30, 2016, Ratajkowski tweeted that she was being featured in the photobook publication without her consent. New York noted that Ratajkowski had claimed that the pictures were intended for use in an artful magazine, while USA Today noted that she had hesitated to protest because she did not want to give Leder publicity. She elaborated on the circumstances of the 2012 photoshoot in an essay for New York in September 2020, reiterating that she never gave consent for the photographs to be used beyond their initial publication in Darius magazine, and alleging that Leder sexually assaulted her after the photoshoot.
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 16, 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.
Ratajkowski played Jessica Weintraub, the female lead opposite Spencer Boldman in the film Cruise, which was written and directed by Robert Siegel. She was hired as part of the cast of the film In Darkness, alongside Natalie Dormer, Ed Skrein, and Stacy Martin. Ratajkowski had a role opposite Aaron Paul in Welcome Home. On September 23, she walked the Milan Fashion Week runway for Bottega Veneta. Later that month, Ratajkowski revealed that she was working with a dialogue coach to learn the French and Italian languages for Lying and Stealing. On November 1, Tyga posted an unofficial 60-second video teaser for "Tequilla Kisses", which featured Ratajkowski. As a result, Ratajkowski was noted as the starring performer in Tyga's "Tequilla Kisses" bonus track music video. However, on November 4, Tyga removed the full video from various points of internet access including his own Instagram account, following complaints from Ratajkowski that the video was from a lookbook Ratajkowski did with Phillip Lopez in 2013. On November 9, Harper's Bazaar UK published a story about Ratajkowski's impending release of her own swimwear brand after Emrata Holdings LLC acquired the trademark to Inamorata in August and she left a trail of breadcrumbs on social media. Ratajkowski retweeted the story. The bathing suit line, Inamorata, went live on November 16, 2017 with three bikini separates and three one-pieces.
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.
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.
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 has been frequently named in lists and polls that rank beauty or fashion in the media. She was ranked in Maxim's Hot 100 list in both 2014 (No. 62) and 2015 (No. 2). AskMen ranked her among its most desirable women of 2014 (No. 3) and 2016 (No. 14); while FHM ranked her among the sexiest in 2014 (No. 4), and 2015 (No. 18). She is also praised for her fashion sense: Ratajkowski made Vogue Italia's Best Dressed List of 2015, and Harper's Bazaar placed her atop its best dressed list at the February 2016 New York Fashion Week.
In September 2014, Ratajkowski was a victim in a female celebrity hacking and internet posting wave of stolen nude iCloud photographs. In December 2014, Us Weekly confirmed she had begun dating musician Jeff Magid. By early 2018, they had reportedly broken up. On February 23, 2018, Ratajkowski announced on Instagram that she had married actor and producer Sebastian Bear-McClard, her boyfriend of several weeks, in a surprise New York City courthouse wedding.
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".
"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.
Ratajkowski appeared in the 2014 and 2015 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. She 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 and Milan Fashion Week for Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, and Versace. Ratajkowski appeared in a Buick Super Bowl commercial during Super Bowl 50 (2016), and has become the spokesperson for brands such as DKNY, The Frye Company, Kerastase, Paco Rabanne, and DL1961.
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."
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.
On the eve of the February 2016 New Hampshire Democratic primary, Ratajkowski spoke at a Bernie Sanders rally in New Hampshire to endorse his campaign. One of the main points of her speech, and her social media activity surrounding it, was to counter Gloria Steinem's statement that young female Sanders supporters were involved in the campaign to meet potential male romantic partners. In 2020, she endorsed Sanders once again for the Democratic nomination.
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 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.
Ratajkowski described the pressure that she endured as a youth around her sexuality and her thoughts on female sexual empowerment, in Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter newsletter on February 16, 2016. Elle magazine, Esquire magazine, and Harper's Bazaar republished her letter. Critics, including Glamour magazine's Hayley Spencer, The Huffington Post's Jenavieve Hatch, and Rachael Moon of the Daily Mirror, praised it. According to Cosmopolitan magazine's Nikki Kinstlinger and Georgia Simmonds of Marie Claire, Ratajkowski finds self-empowerment in defining and owning the expression of her sexuality and body. Salon's Erin Coulehan described the essay's identification of a societal catch-22, in which showcasing female sexuality that may "offend, excite, or create envy" leads to criticism and body shaming. InStyle's Isabella Silvers concurred that "female sexuality isn't always for the benefit of someone else". Charlotte Gill of The Independent admitted that she was in the minority in finding the letter "rambling" and "dull".
Ratajkowski defended Kim Kardashian from criticism when Kardashian posted a controversial naked selfie on Instagram in March 2016, saying that women have the right to "express their sexuality and share their bodies however they choose". Then, Kardashian and Ratajkowski jointly advocated via social media for female sexual empowerment and against body shaming; nearly one million social media followers responded positively, and prominent global media outlets took notice.
In August 2016, Ratajkowski became the spokesperson for the Australian swimwear brand Amore + Sorvete. In March 2017, she became the face of DKNY intimates. In August she became the face of DL1961 jeans. In August 2017, Ratajkowski became the face of The Frye Company for its Fall 2017 ad campaign. That August, she became the face of the entire DKNY brand for its fall 2017 campaign.
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. She appeared in a season 1 episode of Joe Swanberg's Netflix series, Easy that was released on September 22, 2016. Her episode, in which she is a lifecasting selfie artist, met with mixed reviews. She was a guest judge on the October 20, Project Runway season 15 episode. By November 2016, Ratajkowski was attached to Lying and Stealing, which also starred Theo James.
In 2017, Ratajkowski promoted Fyre Festival on Instagram with Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and other actresses/models. Ratajkowski was reportedly the only actress or model to use the hashtag #ad, but has since deleted the post. The Federal Trade Commission has said #ad only worked if at the beginning of paid posts, and that the hashtag alone was not a sufficient disclaimer. A second class action lawsuit against Fyre Media, McFarland, Ja Rule, and the event promoters in Los Angeles was filed. The plaintiff alleges that they deceived patrons into attending the festival by paying over 400 social media personalities and celebrities to promote it. The parties are accused of breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. On June 27. she was announced as the cover model for the August 2017 Australian Harper's Bazaar, which had different newsstand and subscriber covers photographed by Pamela Hanson.
In July 2017 after modelling for the French fashion brand The Kooples's Fall 2017 collection, Ratajkowski was enlisted to design a 38-piece bag collection for the company. The initial version of the collection, named Emily By The Kooples, comes in 6 colors and features a leather carryall bag, The Emily Bag. The bags are Italian-made and represent The Kooples' first foray into bags. Later that month she was announced as the feature of cover stories in the August issues of Allure and British Glamour as well as a nude Patrick Demarchelier photospread for Love magazine.
In September 2017, Ratajkowski took issue with image editing done for the cover of the Madame Figaro issue included in the Saturday September 16 issue Le Figaro. American Vogue ran a feature article the following month for her "stylistic excellence". In January 2018, Ratajkowski shot a fashion campaign with Inez and Vinoodh, as the new ambassador for Kérastase. British Vogue noted that the Kérastase endorsement was Ratajkowski's "first beauty campaign". Then in March 2018, she landed her first fragrance campaign as the face of Paco Rabanne Parfum's women's line. She also earned the University of Southern California Inspire Award in at their inaugural ceremony in March 2018. On April 8, 2018, Ratajkowski won the Model of the Year award from the Daily Front Row.
Ratajkowski co-starred alongside Amy Schumer in the 2018 comedy film I Feel Pretty. Her role, which was described as "pivotal" by USA Today critic Bryan Alexander, included ad libbed improvisational comedy. On March 29, 2018, was cast as a series regular in the NBC pilot Bright Futures. The yet unaired pilot was compared to Friends and How I Met Your Mother. The show was not included in NBC's 2018–19 schedule. She was featured on the cover of the June 2018 issue of Marie Claire. She designed the mythology-themed "EmRata x Spinelli Kilcollin" jewelry collection with Spinelli Kilcollin that launched at Barneys New York on May 30, 2018, with prices starting at $6,000.
On September 21, 2018, Ratajkowski walked the Milan Fashion Week runway for Versace. That same weekend, she walked fashion week for Dolce & Gabbana.