IN CONVERSATION WITH EMMA BROOKS
With over 5.5M+ Followers and 200M+ Likes, model and actress, Emma Brooks McAllister remains completely authentic on her social media platforms. Alongside her authentic presence on social media, Emma is solidifying her name in the fashion world. Emma recently started taking acting classes as well and just made her first acting debut in Grace Gaustad’s new music video ‘Everybody’s Friend’.
You are very open about your own mental health journey and what you’ve overcome with your diagnosis and medication and some of your other struggles. How would you describe this beautiful journey that you’ve been on with your mental health?
I wanna use the right words because it’s been a very empowering kind of journey. Just because it’s been so difficult, but it’s also been so beautiful at the same time, being able to know that there’s so many people that go through the same things that I do. And there’s also a light at the end of the tunnel and I can feel really strong about that. Whenever I get there, it’s just a wonderful, beautiful feeling and it goes back and forth. But overall, it’s been a really empowering experience, knowing there’s others around me who can help lift me up and I can help lift them up. And it just makes me feel a lot better about what we all have to kind of go through as a unit.
You journey a lot about this on your social media. Why do you think this is such an important aspect on social media to be presented to the public and to people?
Social media has completely, especially in the past decade, taken over what our societal standards are and that’s why there’s so many trends and that’s why there is so much more conversation about controversial topics that were considered taboo 20 years ago. So talking about mental health, normalizing it, has become such a huge conversation. It is so important, because 30 years ago it was so hard to be able to come out and say “I am going through this, I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling depressed”. It was so suppressed in families and societies all around the world. It’s just such a hard thing for anyone to talk about. It’s not just stuck in the US, it’s literally a global issue that needs to come to light more. And I think that slowly but surely it is something that people are starting to have more conversations about. Being able to relate to one another is such an important thing. And it’s such a unifying thing too.
All this inspired you to create your own mental health focused talk show ’50/50′. Tell us a bit more about this. When is it coming out? What is it all about? Will you have any guests on it?
’50/50′ is a project that I’m really passionate about. It’s definitely gonna take some time, especially doing things the right way and finding all the right conversations and the right way to talk about it since mental health is such a broad subject and you want to approach it in the most considerate and inclusive way possible. So learning about all the different aspects of building a business and talking about mental health and just making sure that you can include everyone. There’s so many different parts about it. It’s definitely been in the works for a very long time now and it will probably take a little bit longer to develop.
But yes, the conversation will include a bunch of people. Some are empowering women that run businesses, some may be a part of our industry and some may just be normal people who also experience mental health. And it’ll also just be myself. It’s more about conversation, to normalize everyone’s emotions and feelings and also kind of creating a safe space for people to turn to for resources. I’ve been thinking about it for a very long time, so it’s something that I wanna make sure that I do correctly. I don’t wanna rush it and I want it to be very impactful, whenever it does come out.
You have also been in fashion world a lot, even participating at Miss Louisiana Teen USA where you won. How has that been for you, being in that completely different world from the fashion industry in the form of fashion shows and fashion weeks and all that stuff?
It’s very interesting cause it’s very different, but there’s also so many similarities, especially with meeting people, being present, showing up, the content, the clothes. There’s aspects of it that are relatable to one another, but the fashion industry is so much broader. It’s a lot more expansive, especially since it’s a global thing.
I just did fashion month for the first time and that was New York, Milan and Paris. And that itself, New York compared to Europe is so different. It’s very interesting, especially since I was a little pageant girl years ago. I did that for around three years and it was a great experience and it also kind of helped prep me for this kind of industry with talking and networking, but then also getting ready and the fast paceness of it. It’s just all up in the air all the time. But it really did help prepare me for the industry in a way.
You already kind of mentioned what I was about to ask next. All these different fashion weeks, like Milan, Paris, New York, how are they different between each other and which one is maybe your favorite?
I definitely enjoy the European Fashion Week more than I did New York Fashion Week. I think the difference between the two is, from what I experienced, in Europe it was way more of a passion to make sure there’s a statement within each show of every designer. Like putting on a message that is way deeper than you would think that there was behind. Each show meant something. The message was so deep and artistic and I really thoroughly enjoyed that. Whereas in New York, it’s like rushed, everything is kind of going really fast paced. It’s like you’re in and you’re out. There’s nothing really to take away from it besides what the collection is. Not to say that it isn’t a great experience, it’s just a little bit less thought out. I do enjoy doing all of it, but my favorite is definitely Europe.
You work with a lot of major fashion brands. Which one would you say that you identify the most with and why?
Recently I was loaned a dress from Dior and that was such a magical experience. Not just because obviously it is Dior, but the dress that they sent me was such a timeless, beautiful silk dress. I’ve always kind of related to that elegance and chicness. I love black and I love how it was beautifully wrapped around my waist and twined. I grew up loving more vintage fashion and it was such a timeless piece that I felt like I was transported back into the glamour of Hollywood. I did a red lip with it and me and my boyfriend, we went to a movie premiere and wearing that piece and being at a premiere in Hollywood just kind of transported me back into a romanticized glamour of what Hollywood used to be. And it made me feel beautiful. So I feel that was a moment and a brand that I loved working with. And it was my first time, so I really loved that.
Just recently, you also designed your own swimsuit line in collaboration with Blackbough Swim. How does swimsuit fashion in your eyes stand out on the market versus all the other fashion?
I think that there’s a lot of people that go into the swim space, because it’s a space that could be easily manufactured and produced. I think that a big difference between each one is the production and the quality of the swimsuit. And I also think the sustainability part of it is very important. For example, Blackbough quality is really great. It has double layers, it is thick, the stitching is great, nothing’s falling off, it’s 80 % recyclable fabric and it’s very inclusive. So for me, Blackbough was a first choice, just because of those reasons alone.
I remember that after making this collection and receiving it and wearing it for my first time, I was so excited because of how good it was. I think that finding a brand that has a good quality is really important, because there’s so many swimsuits out there that just aren’t good quality and they’re not able to be inclusive to people. Even if they do have a good size range, the quality isn’t good. It’s not gonna hold up any of the parts that a woman needs held up. And even for men, they have double lining. Having the boxers under the swim briefs is very important. I know that there’s a lot of men that wear boxers under their swimsuits, so it’s just nice to already have it in there. That’s another reason why I loved Blackbough, cause they did that as well. It was just a great collaboration.
So when you were designing this line, what did you have in mind as what you wanna portray with it?
It’s very funny because a lot of my inspiration actually came from my Coachella nails that I did. I decided to kind of go for retro, I told them I want a seventies vintage wallpaper on each nail. We did different sets and then that’s about the time where I started having these meetings with the Blackbough team and talking to them about what I wanted. I love mid-century modern, I love the color orange and I love reds and I love greens, so I looked at my nails and I literally told them that I want to do this. I created a Pinterest board and we were coming up with designs. I wanted it to be really fun and I wanted it to feel like it came off a wallpaper of some hot retro, like seventies club. It was really fun watching that come to life after months of going over patterns and designs and shapes and whatnot. And the turnout was exactly what I wanted it to be.
You recently also started taking acting classes. How do you feel about acting, going further with your career? Do you want it being something that you do a lot more of or would you wanna focus on other stuff?
I’m really excited about it. I mean, the reason why I moved to Los Angeles in the first place was to pursue this industry. Social media just accidentally came along with that and has helped me with acting. It is something that I’m putting a lot of focus on right now. And that video actually took place before I started acting classes, so I’m not that great in it. But I was always thinking about the right time to start doing it cause it does take time and it does take a lot of work. And I don’t want to take advantage of my platform and think that I don’t have to practice acting to be good at it or to get into the roles that I want, because there’s so many people out there that put in so much work and effort to be a part of the industry and it’s so hard to get into.
So out of respect for myself and for the industry and for the people trying to be a part of the industry, I’m gonna put in a lot more effort. I’ve been doing it for a few months now, working hard and mastering the art of acting since it’s such a broad thing. It takes a lot of work and effort and I wanna be able to actually be good at it. I do want to do a lot of it, I want to be a part of it as much as possible. It takes a lot fot people to break out, so I wanna spend a good bit of time being able to work up to it.
So if I ask you what’s next for you, let’s say for the next year, is it fashion design, already some acting projects that you booked or more of talk shows and more focus on mental health awareness?
I’m definitely focusing on acting and I’ve just signed with UTA agency, for acting as well as digital. So working on getting my SAG card and more classes and finding smaller roles to just kind of start being in the background and getting accustomed to being on set and being behind the scenes and watching people do what they do. And then also the mental health space, just learning more about it and how I can contribute, even if it’s in small little ways. I’m in YouTube space as well, so incorporating mental health in that is something I wanna elaborate more on, just because that’s a great platform to talk about topics like that.
And then with fashion, we have Men’s Fashion Week in January and then Women’s Fashion Week in February. So those two months will be filled with that. I have some goals that I want. Brand wise, to be able to collaborate and do my own kind of line with someone. Those are goals though, that’s not even close to production. And also I love reading and I love sharing books with people. So that’s another thing that I’m trying to work on as well, finding a way to be able to be more open about it. I do reviews at the end of every month on YouTube, but finding a bigger space for that is something I would like to do as well.
What would you recommend to young girls, not only in the States, but all around the world regarding their mental health awareness and struggles?
I think one of the biggest things that even I struggle with is patience with yourself. Having that patience for yourself and for your mental health, to take the time to look at the situation that you may be in and look at what you’re actually dealing with. Everyone is different, so the way it’s handled is always gonna be different for everyone. But giving yourself that patience to love yourself and take care of yourself and try and calm yourself with whatever you may be dealing with in life, is a virtue and it will pay off in the end.
interview by JANA LETONJA
photography KRISSY SALEH