The Muse: meet Emma Laird, model-actress-environmentalist and all round power player

Talking Timothée Chalamet and Shrek memes.

Meet Emma Laird, a Generation Z hyphenate dream: a model, actress, vegan, environmentalist and Northern Soul, she can do it but is as humble and humourous as they come. When she’s not posing for everyone from our very own Rankin or starring in short films, Emma’s actively making a difference in the world and spreading the eco-animal-rights-warrior word through her YouTube channel. Working with HUNGER, Oh Comely, Phoenix and Schon, just to name a few, she’s fast rising in the fashion world having been signed by Models 1 back in 2014 after getting scouted at Leeds festival.

A film fanatic and music maniac, Emma Laird is much more than a pretty face, she knows her stuff and takes in every second. With a penchant to travel the world, there’s definitely more up her sleeve: from a short film festival in Barcelona to repping Derbyshire in shoots up North, she’s as suited to the woodland as she is the runways. We meet this week’s MUSE Emma to chat about all the worlds she has a foot in, and just what the future holds for her…

Which world did you envision yourself in when you were younger?

I didn’t know anything about fashion until I got scouted in a field at Leeds Festival way back when. I was actually in a band and just wanted to be on stage singing. The other singer in the band owned a pub up the road from my house where I used to work. After every shift we’d either have band practice or just jam at the open mic. We got a really good venue at The Leadmill in Sheffield and that was cool. I was only about 16 and we had the same backstage area that some of my favourite bands I’d seen there had (Pigeon Detectives, Arctic Monkeys, Reverend & the Makers). After the gig we hid from the bouncers because we were underage. But drama was always my favourite subject (I actually used to request extra homework). I used to write my own plays, stories, anything that I could act out with my friends.

Who is your ultimate style inspiration?

Rachel from Friends is iconic. I also said in another interview recently Queen Liz but I rarely dress that classy. My style changes every day depending on where I’m going and what my mood is. I dress for the audition or casting I’m going for because it really does change the way you present yourself and how you act. When I auditioned for the film I’m shooting at the minute I wore a heeled boot with a long skirt to really allow myself to deliver a good performance (it’s kind of a period drama).

How would you describe your personal style in three words?

Messy, colourful, British.

If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life what would you watch?

I’ve been stuck on this question for a while. Are you trying to torture me? But if I had to pick one maybe Kill Bill, Black Swan or Green Mile. Oooh or Titanic? Ok that’s four. 

Who would you really love to work with?

Tilda Swindon is my icon so of course her. I remember seeing her in Narnia growing up and being fascinated but also scared by her.  She was so cold and powerful and by far the most interesting character and I liked that. I also LOVE James McAvoy (I watched Atonement far too young and didn’t understand it at the time but it’s now one of my favourite films). And Jake Gyllenhaal – he’s brilliant in Nightcrawler. I’m a big fan of his. My new favourite actor has to be Timothée Chalamet though. I watched Call Me By Your Name and just fell in love with his performance. It was so raw. It was real. That boy really as talent. I can’t imagine how great it would be working with him! 

If you could be any character in movie history who would you choose?

Bellatrix from Harry Potter. Helena Bonham Carter played her so well. I’ve always had this fascination with the bad guys in film- don’t get me started on Heath Ledger’s The Joker! I was (and still am) a huge Harry Potter fan because I grew up with the books and the films and Bellatrix was always my favourite. She was crazy. But almost lovable in a way. To play a bad guy and still be loveable, now that’s a talent.

How does it feel to be in the creative spheres as a woman at the moment?

Empowering. Being taken seriously as an artist is my biggest challenge. And I don’t know if it’s because I look young or if I’m a woman or what, but that means a lot to me. So to be working with female directors and photographers is always a good reminder that we are just as fab as men!

Who are your must follows on Instagram?

@filmatic is a great film account. I love @igpaintings too. They post beautiful renaissance paintings. And @scenic_simpsons post screenshots of cool scenery/sets from The Simpsons! And @rankinarchive of course, his Instagram stories are so funny. It’s always a pleasure working with him. 

What’s your relationship like with social media?

I love it. Instagram is my favourite and I think it’s a great way of connecting with people. I started posting Shrek memes a while ago and now I feel like I’ve created this weird and wonderful Shrek community on Instagram. I get people sending me memes everyday and I love it. On a more serious not I do sometimes take a step back and make an effort to pick up a book or just live in the moment instead of scrolling on social media or worrying about getting a good picture for Instagram. I think that’s very important. 

What’s next for you?

I’m currently in the process of shooting a film with a guy named Uli Meyer who is just fabulous! I feel very honoured. I will hopefully be going to Barcelona to see a short film I shot back in February that will be opening a festival there. But my schedule is so crazy I never know what I’m doing until last minute! Hopefully I can make it to Barca though, I’d love to bring my mum along to see some of my work. I can’t wait for what’s to come this year! 

Emma Laird is signed to Models 1, follow her on Instagram here and Twitter here.

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