Closer by Darren McDonald
Darren Mcdonald takes on the intimacy of identity and the stillness of being with New Zealand born, New York based model, Emma Kate Boyd.
At 9:53pm on Monday evening in New York, it’s already almost midday, a day earlier in Sydney’s Bondi Beach where Auckland born, New York-based model, Emma Boyd is lying on her bed and speaking to me via phone. She’s currently having a big break from New York though is returning soon – typical of the nomadic and un-formulaic lifestyle of a successful model – who follows the work; shouldering sacrifices like limited access to family and friends – and nature. Even, fresh air.
Emma’s big dreams are the familiar narrative of a girl who grew up in a small area, not dissimilar to my own, and I find myself drawing parallels between us as we discuss the transient nature of our lifestyles — and that anticipation is a constant when waiting to finally settle somewhere. “I want to feel settled in a place where I want to stay. I find it hard to be settled all the time and have everything in order. Also… I kind of want a boyfriend.” A sense of innocence – she has big dreams, and a big future, but still carries herself in a way that feels advanced.
Her laid-back tone describes her interests outside of her career trajectory, like her desire to clear a bachelor in wine science, or that she studied Muay Thai for an intense month in Thailand once. “I’m just someone who wants to keep learning. I just feel like there is so much to learn and you can never stop so that drives me to try new things.” She says. With the drive and anticipation of bigger and better things around every corner, and the secure, relaxed sense of self Emma clearly already possesses despite her almost unbelievable 21 years on earth, it is obvious she has already lived many lives before this one.
CB: Where are you right now? EB: I’m currently in Bondi laying in bed. CB: So where were you born and where did you grow up? EB: I was born in 1997, I left home when I was 18 and moved to Sydney and I think I just grew up a bit faster or something, but I am 21 years old. I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. CB: What was that like? EB: I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m so glad I got to grow up in New Zealand and just being around the beach and such great people…I’m very happy I grew up there. CB: Does your work challenge you? EB: Definitely. I feel like you meet a lot of people with quite different personalities and you have to work with them instead of against them and it can be challenging, especially when you’re flying a lot and you’re constantly travelling and you’re waking up really early and always jet-lagged and have to push through a ten hour day when you just want to sleep, but there aren’t many negatives that I can find about it really. CB: So, do you think that your upbringing has a lot to do with how you approach life now? EB: yes, I think it does. I think I’m a lot more grounded and I always remember where I come from and keep the morals and how I’ve been brought up makes my personality in a way…I’m quite laid-back and I don’t get frantic about things or stress a lot and I feel like everyone in New York is stressed and on the go and I just think it’s important to just take a step back and where I’m from I’m used to it being like that. CB: Obviously Auckland is a city…but does it ever feel a bit like a small town? EB: Yes definitely, I lived in Te Atatu which is on a small Peninsula so it’s not quite a city, but I feel like everything is so close you can drive to the beach in 20 mins and go to Piha, and it’s a lot different to New York I guess.
CB: I think people do underestimate the physicality of it and the toll it can take. EB: Absolutely, a lot of people say to me ‘oh it must be so easy just standing around all day’ and I’m like, you definitely don’t stand around. I’ve shot in New York in the snow in tiny dresses and have had to do that for hours absolutely freezing, and you just kind of put up with it and do it. CB: So, on that, how long have you been modelling for? EB: I’ve been modelling for about 5 years, I started when I was quite young in high school and I didn’t really take it seriously because I was just modelling for small brands in New Zealand and stuff but I kind of started when I came to Sydney and did it full-time. CB: What was your first big job? EB: I think it might have been Marie Claire Australia, it was my first editorial. And then New York was maybe Coach. CB: since then, how has what you do for work changed you or evolved you? EB: I guess travelling by myself a lot and having to live by myself and do everything alone has just made me a lot stronger and more independent because you don’t have your parents, and I just moved away and did it all myself which has made me quite strong and very independent for sure. CB: Outside of work, what are you interested in?
EB: I actually want to get a bachelor in Wine Science, you learn about the science behind it all and I want to go to a vineyard in France and learn about wine! CB: Just casually, that sounds like heaven. EB: It’s a random thing but I’m so interested in it! I could watch YouTube videos on wine for hours and documentaries etc. CB: I have fantasies on a daily basis of being a florist, because how cool would it be to get to just hang out with flowers all day? EB: I know it would be amazing! Other than wine I did Muay Thai, and I really want to get back into it, I actually went to Thailand for a month and just did Muay Thai and lived in a little container type thing and did that every day for a month, which was really cool, so I really do like Muay Thai boxing. I don’t know why I wanted to do it but one day I was just like ‘I’m going to Thailand and I’m just going to live in a hut and do it every day.’ It was really gnarly but I loved it.
CB: What drives you? EB: I’m just someone who wants to keep learning. I just feel like there is so much to learn and you can never stop so that drives me to try new things. I just have goals, I really want to do well in modelling and I try and stay focused and not get sidetracked by other stuff. It takes a lot I think. And then being surrounded by great friends and family definitely helps drive me. CB: The current edition of Side-Note is anticipation, I wanted to know, what are you waiting for? EB: I want to feel settled in a place where I want to stay. I find it hard to be settled all the time and have everything in order. Also, I kind of want a boyfriend. CB: do you think it’s difficult to meet someone on that level romantically when you are so transient? EB: Yes. I think that it definitely does make it harder, just because if you do find someone that you really like or want to have a relationship with it doesn’t really work if you’re not in the same place. I think that’s hard. CB: and when you think about settling, do you envision that life in Auckland, Australia, New York…or are you not sure yet? EB: I think it envision it in NYC. I guess I consider it home now, even though I’ve been on a big break I feel like NYC is where I should be. CB: How long has NYC been your home? EB: I’ve been there for two years, same as you. I think it gives you a good taste of life but also makes you think, is this the place I want to live or that I can handle living in? it’s quite intense especially coming from where we come from. It’s very different. CB: How do you describe your relationship with New York? EB: It’s a bit like a love-hate thing. I’m never bored, there is always something to do, and you can eat everywhere for basically like 3 years and always eat somewhere different and I love going to art shows and jazz concerts and in that sense I’m always occupied. I love it a lot. CB: When are you most vulnerable? EB: In a setting where I don’t know a lot of people or I’m in an unfamiliar environment. CB: Are you shy? EB: I don’t think I’m shy…its more probably a place that I don’t really know CB: So you enjoy having your bearings. EB: Exactly. CB: If you could give advice to the younger Emma, even though you are a baby angel, what would you tell her? EB: Probably not to be afraid of things you haven’t experienced or not to be scared of things and to do everything you can. Don’t hold back on things. CB: Was there a moment in your life that made you realise that? EB: I think I realised not to hold back because you don’t have anything to lose. Just see what happens.