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Emma Brooks

Screenshot 2021-11-16 at 18_edited.jpg

Alice Gee | 29/12/2023

Emma Brooks is here and thriving. Finishing our Issue 14 cover shoot, the atmosphere is electric, with Emma's confidence and huge likability having it's effect. When it came to Issue 14's pre planning, I can tell you, I jumped at the chance to sit with Emma. For those who don't know, Emma is a force of good, with many of her conversations focused on mentalth. I learn her aim remains the same as ever, to tackle negative stigma all whilst wearing her heart on her sleeve, something I hugely admire. In a downtown LA studio, I get the chance to ask in depth about her love of books, her journey from USA beauty pagents to editorial modelling and our common ground experience with Bipolar.

A: First of all, thank you for the shoot today. Honestly, you look incredible!

E: I had so much fun.

A: I've been really interested in speaking to you partly of your similar experiences with Bipolar, and PTSD. I've got bipolar, and I got diagnosed with PTSD in 2017. And it’s been a turbulent time. I’m a few years in and the way they interact with one another is really interesting to me. So I'm going to be really interested to delve a little bit into that if you're comfortable a little bit later. But let's start, let's visit your movement into modelling and content creation. What was it that drew you into the world of content creation? What was in your eyeline when you first started?

E: Growing up, I've always wanted to model and be a part of the creative industries, whether it was film, fashion or entertainment, that world has always intrigued me. It’s always been the goal for me. In high school, I started pageants. To be honest I was doing everything I could, from local fashion weeks, to flying out to New York at 14. In my head I was like, I'm gonna do this one day, and I have to do everything in my power to make this happen. I drove across all of Louisiana, just to shoot as much as possible. I did everything I could. I ended up finding an internship in LA for a fashion PR firm when I was 17 before I finished high school, and I moved to LA. For me, content creation just being a Gen Z, growing up on social media it was just something natural. It wasn’t any form of goal just more so just the intention of doing it for fun. After living in LA for like eight to nine months, my content started to pick up a little bit and my manager, my wonderful amazing manager found me and we ended up connecting, and we've been together ever since. That’s kind of what boosted me into the world of social media and content creation. I realised how beautiful it could be to work in the space and be a little bit more protected within the fashion and modelling world. It's one of the least protected parts of the entertainment industry. It’s quite brutal. There's no laws to protect any of the models. So I saw it as an opportunity to grow into the Fashion space more and to do what I want to do, and what my dreams were but in a way that is more meaningful. I want to be more of a person and have more of a brand, I want to share my opinions, I'm so passionate about mental health which pageants really boosted for me because you're supposed to have something that you stand for. It's always been mental health. For me, it's always been what I've believed in the most and what I've wanted to talk to about the most. So I saw content creation as a way to be able to do the things.

A: When you mentioned pageantry, as someone who's not been to an American pageant, I love it’s important to stand for something. How has it been in terms of the opposite side of positivity with the pressures that come with this idea of perfection in pageantry?

E: It was such a interesting experience for me, because when I started training, I was 14, and when I first competed, I was 15. I was struggling so much in school and with friends and with my own mental health. I was actually, two weeks before I first competed, in hospital for my mental health. My mom asked me if I didn't want to do it because I wasn’t well and I almost said yes, but I ended up not, and I kept going. Honestly, it saved me for a little bit because it motivated me and gave me something to look forward to. I didn't win the first time, but I got third runner up, so I decided I'm going to do this again, I'm gonna go back, and I'm gonna compete again. And that's when I won. Having the class that I did in pageantry those two years that I competed, the girls that I was competing with, were so wonderful. They gave me a sense of sisterhood or friendship that I didn't have in my hometown. I'm not a competitive person, but I'm extremely scared of failure. So I was very nervous, dealing with the nerves of not succeeding. It was also super helpful to help get myself over being in front of people and performing or speaking in front of people and giving my opinion. It definitely helped me face those fears. Because if I wanted to be a part of this industry, I would have to get over all of that. It definitely did save me in more ways than one.

It's like I had two separate lives at that point. I had my pageant world with my pageant friends. And then my day to day life where I was just a sad sack of a human.

A: It is difficult, especially talking about bipolar. I really resonate with the two lives thing. Because there's often this outward persona, that you know often I greet people with as I'm super open about it but then there’s the other side where you wouldn’t necessarily seen that as if I'm unwell. If I'm having a psychotic break then you can probably see it a bit more obviously. I feel there’s a lot of bolstering involved when it comes to bipolar and having to deal with the stigmas out there and the perceptions. It’s not one of the more palatable or ‘sexy’ mental health illnesses.

E: I fully agree and I completely understand. It was so weird to be so different because I also dealt with substance abuse issues at the same time. The only time I didn't put drugs first was when I was working when I was shooting, walking shows, and if I was doing anything for pageants. Pageants were a space where I could actually put it away and like put something before drugs.

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