Emma graces the cover of Cosmopolitan for their December/January issue! She bares her bump and more! Read interview/article below and see the stunning photos at link below! She along with Belletrist co-founder, Karah Preiss, will be leading a class, how to turn your passion into a legit business, via Cosmopolitan on November 19, you can sign up here.
So I’m meeting my friend Emma—yes, this Emma, the one you’re looking at right now—for a socially distanced walk. Me with my 5-week-old daughter in tow, her with her 28-week-old baby in utero. We’re getting together like we usually do to talk about all the usual stuff: the hundredth California heat wave, the books we’re reading (Emma’s current pick: Transformed by Birth, by Britta Bushnell), impending motherhood and how the hell we’re going to raise well-adjusted children in Los Angeles.
Except this time it’s not usual at all, because at Emma’s request, everything’s on the record, fair game for her Cosmo cover story.
Emma and I met years ago when she came to a West Hollywood reading of my first novel, Sweetbitter, and we bonded instantly. It wasn’t a networking move—Belletrist, her wildly popular book club, didn’t exist yet, and Emma had no reason to be there beyond the fact that she was a fan of the book. That meeting sparked a friendship between us, two obsessive and passionate readers. At the time, I didn’t even know enough to be starstruck—or that Emma was Julia Roberts’ niece, which seems to be the opening sentence of just about anything ever written about her.
Instead, I learned about Emma from Emma. She was a woman who quoted Didion, Rilke, and Solnit from memory and held writers in the highest reverence (which, being a writer myself, made me feel just a tiny bit of pressure). We’ve been trading book lists ever since.
To actually know Emma is to understand that so many of the stories we’ve read about her have nothing to do with the self-aware woman walking next to me. You probably know those stories. The ones with the opening lines about her aunt. The ones that treat her as an eternally young girl “on the verge” of womanhood. The ones that speculate on her personal life. Allow me to fact-check them: Emma is the opposite of a fragile ingenue. She is grounded, with a laser focus. She’s the friend you call for sensible advice; the friend who plans, makes lists, and manages to cross everything off. She can shift seamlessly from astrology to hard news. She’s been in the business since she was 6, and that’s obvious in the way she pays attention, asks questions, and actually listens to your answers. She’s been able to inure herself to the tawdrier aspects of fame, and every time I’ve ever spoken with her, she’s expressed gratitude that she gets to work.
That work includes her latest Netflix movie Holidate, a departure from her more anxiety-inducing projects like American Horror Story and The Hunt, a dystopian horror-action-thriller-comedy mashup from earlier this year. “The script came along and I remember thinking, This is what I want to do. I want to make a movie like this,” Emma tells me. “It’s nostalgic; it’s romantic; it’s fun. I love serious work, but sometimes, you just want to laugh and watch a movie 10 times in a row, and that’s okay.” So there’s that, too, about Emma. She’s self-aware but not self-serious.
She will also assist you when your newborn’s diaper explodes. Halfway through our walk, Paloma, my daughter, grunts in warning and then is suddenly covered in poop. I’ll spare you the most intense details, but basically, it goes up her back and down her thighs. (Yes, this is me sparing you the most intense details.) Managing a diaper blowout in public is always unnerving, but managing a diaper blowout in front of a movie star, even if she’s your friend, is what stress dreams are made of. Emma—god bless her—actually seems excited as she hands me wipes and digs out a backup outfit from the diaper bag. When Paloma blows out a second diaper in seconds, we burst out laughing. “Does this freak you out?” I ask. “This is amazing!” she answers.
And this is the Emma I know. So obviously ready for what’s coming, even if it’s a mess.
Stephanie Danler: When I met you, I never thought, Here’s a little girl about to grow up. You own your own home, you’re in a serious relationship, and you’re becoming a mother. Yet the story that’s been told about you for the past 10 years is: Emma Roberts is—or is about to start—growing up. It’s such an infantilizing narrative. Does it ever frustrate you? Do you feel grown up?
Emma Roberts: It’s funny, because I think people to this day think I’m 19, even though I’m turning 30. I don’t know if it’s about growing up as Julia Roberts’ niece or if it’s because I’ve been doing this since I was so young that people see me as younger.
There’s always been a disconnect between the private me and the public me. In Hollywood, the public decides who you are and then they’ll decide if you get to change or not. That’s been disheartening. If you want to come out and say, “But wait, this is who I am,” it’s rarely perceived well or people think, I don’t want to hear that story. I want the old story because it’s juicier or it makes me feel better, or whatever the reasons are.
But it can be freeing in a way. People are going to say what they’re going to say, and I’m going to live my life and be who I am, which, by the way, I’m still figuring out. Even turning 30, I don’t feel done learning or evolving.
SD: You’re pregnant, and we’re in the middle of wildfire season, election season, and, oh yeah, a pandemic. So…how are you?
ER: That’s become such a loaded question in 2020. Long story short: I am hungry and tired. Food and sleep do not abide by the normal laws when you’re pregnant. But I’m healthy, which is the thing I’m most grateful for. To see my body change inside and out so drastically has been a wild experience. Surprising and beautiful. Then again, some days I feel like I’m being hijacked by something.
SD: Is there anything special you’re doing to take care of yourself right now?
ER: I’ve really gotten to take care of myself for me, instead of for a movie or for a show or for an event. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had this much time off since I was 12 years old. Some days are a struggle. This year has been a struggle, for everybody, in different ways and at different levels, but I’ve gotten to really reassess what self-care means to me.
To have days when I can really turn inward and focus on myself has been life-changing, truly. Digging deep is a beautiful and sometimes difficult and harsh experience. Because I can go years being on autopilot of getting the next job and doing the next thing and, Oh, I’ll take care of myself after I accomplish this. Or, Oh, I’ll spend time with my family after I do that. This year, it’s been like, Okay, later is now.
SD: Have you had the “Now I’m ready to be a mom” thought yet?
ER: Ever since I was little, I wanted to have a baby, in theory. When I was a kid, I begged my mom to have another baby. The day she brought my sister home from the hospital, I remember holding her, wanting to dress and play with her.
At 16, I thought, By the time I’m 24, I’ll be married with kids. And then I was 24 and I was like, Remember when I said I would be married with kids by now? With work, especially with acting—the travel, the hours—it’s not always conducive to settling down in a traditional way.
It really started to come to the forefront of my mind when, a few years ago, I learned that I’ve had undiagnosed endometriosis since I was a teenager. I always had debilitating cramps and periods, so bad that I would miss school and, later, have to cancel meetings. I mentioned this to my doctor, who didn’t look into it and sent me on my way because maybe I was being dramatic? In my late 20s, I just had a feeling I needed to switch to a female doctor. It was the best decision. She ran tests, sent me to a specialist. Finally, there was validation that I wasn’t being dramatic. But by then, it had affected my fertility. I was told, “You should probably freeze your eggs or look into other options.”
I said, “I’m working right now. I don’t have time to freeze my eggs.” To be honest, I was also terrified. Just the thought of going through that and finding out, perhaps, that I wouldn’t be able to have kids….I did freeze my eggs eventually, which was a difficult process.
When I found out about my fertility, I was kind of stunned. It felt so permanent, and oddly, I felt like I had done something wrong. But I started opening up to other women, and all of a sudden, there was a new world of conversation about endometriosis, infertility, miscarriages, fear of having kids. I was so grateful to find out I was not alone in this. I hadn’t done anything “wrong” after all.
It sounds cheesy, but the moment that I stopped thinking about it, we got pregnant. But even then, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Things can go wrong when you’re pregnant. That’s something you don’t see on Instagram. So I kept it to myself, my family, and my partner, not wanting to make grand plans if it wasn’t going to work out. This pregnancy made me realize that the only plan you can have is that there is no plan.
SD: When you get into adulthood and you’re building a career and your life is so full, it’s hard to imagine a child coming through like a wrecking ball.
ER: Totally. But it’s a beautiful thing to know that you’re in charge of creating your child’s world. I take that so seriously. Even just putting his nursery together, that’s the first environment he’s going to be in. Sometimes I think about seeing him in the morning and how I want to say good morning to him and how I want to put him to bed at night, all those things that end up creating your sense of safety. Sometimes it’s scary, though, because I’m responsible for this child’s world and memories, and I want to make it all wonderful.
SD: Have you thought about how you’ll navigate raising a child under the gaze that comes with fame?
ER: I was thinking about it this morning because there were paparazzi following me. I had forgotten my computer and my coffee—which, by the way, pregnancy forgetfulness, I’ve got it really bad. I had to turn around and go home and I was so frazzled because I didn’t want to be late. And these guys were following me very close to my car, driving in a way that made me so uncomfortable. It put me in such a bad mood. I was excited to talk to you—I had woken up at the right time and I felt like I had a handle on my day, then to forget what I needed and be followed by these guys…I was thinking, What am I going to do when this happens when he’s here? It’s something that I don’t have the answer to yet. I signed up for this, but he didn’t.
I remember when I was a kid and I went places with my aunt and people followed her like crazy. It’s an abnormal thing. These days, I’m like, “Look, I get it, take your photo,” but they don’t leave you alone. They push it, they follow you, and it gets to a point where it’s dangerous and it causes anxiety. So yes, I get nervous. There’s really nothing that protects you from that. I haven’t figured it out yet.
SD: In terms of things you can control, you work behind the scenes now, as a producer and as cofounder of Belletrist. When did it come to you that you wanted to start making your own content?
ER: I always wanted to create. I didn’t want to wait by the phone, then show up on-set and stand on a mark. It was something I never got the opportunity to do, but then the doors started to open up once I started Belletrist. I didn’t start with the intention of producing—it was because I loved books so much. Reading always puts me in a place of wonder. Books make me cry, make me laugh, change my mind. To be able to put my favorites out there and have people respond to them was so exciting. Eventually that evolved into, “Could some of these books become movies or TV shows?” Then we got a first-look deal with Hulu, and we’re doing a show with them based on a book we love called Tell Me Lies, by Carola Lovering. And we have a show at Netflix called First Kill that I’m so, so excited about. It’s about teenage vampires, based on a short story we fell madly in love with.
Producing means I’m able to really be a part of the conversation, and it’s taught me a lot. When I was younger, I would be embarrassed to have a bad idea. I wish someone had told me when I was 19, “Who cares if it’s a dumb idea? If it’s a dumb idea, it’s a dumb idea, but what if it’s your best and you didn’t say it?”
I can have an opinion now, which I didn’t always feel was possible, especially growing up as an actress. It’s about learning to pause and ask questions and not just let it be other people being like, “This is a yes; this is a no.” It’s about deciding for you.