Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter Ella Emhoff has signed with IMG Models after an eye-catching appearance at the January 20 inauguration.
Emhoff, 21, is the daughter of Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff and his first wife Kerstin, a film producer.
A fine art student at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, specializing in textiles, Emhoff had been in talks with the agency since her stepmother’s career pushed her into the spotlight.
Her Miu Miu coat and viral eyebrow-wiggling at Mike Pence sealed the deal: before inauguration day she had about 50,000 followers on Instagram, and a week later the total had surpassed 300,000.
Ella Emhoff, pictured next to her father Doug at the inauguration, has signed with IMG Models
The 21-year-old’s eyebrow wiggle at Pence went viral after the moment was caught on camera
Emhoff now joins the ranks of Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen and Alek Wek.
Her signing comes a day that of Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old youth poet laureate who performed at the inauguration.
‘It’s not really about shape, size or gender any more,’ said Ivan Bart, the president of IMG Models.
‘Ella communicates this moment in time. There’s a cheekiness and a joy she exudes.’
He said his response to seeing her at the inauguration was: ‘Wow, she’s communicating fashion.’
Emhoff, with her unconventional looks and 18 tattoos – among them a cow, a vase, and bacon and eggs, plus several she did herself during lockdown – said the approach from Bart took her back, even though she had been dabbling in modelling for a smaller agent.
‘I was pretty surprised when everything with IMG was happening because when I was younger, I never saw that as being part of my timeline,’ she told The New York Times.
‘As someone who, like a lot of young girls out there, had self-confidence issues, it is intimidating and scary to go into this world that is hyper-focused on you and the body.’
Amanda Gorman, the youth poet laureate, pictured at the inauguration, also signed with IMG
Gisele Bundchen (left) and Gigi Hadid are among the famous faces to be part of the IMG lineup
She said she was encouraged by the diversity of models working today, and the opportunity to be ‘part of that change’.
Bart told the paper he noticed Emhoff a fundraiser for Harris during the presidential primaries.
Emhoff joins Alek Wek at IMG Models
‘I noticed her as soon as she walked in the door,’ he said.
He said that, during the summer, they began talking about the possibility of her joining IMG.
They had a Zoom call, and she showed him her loom and some of her knitwear pieces.
Emhoff has spoken frequently of her strong family unit, with her brother Cole, 26, parents and Harris – who she refers to as ‘Momala, the world’s greatest stepmom.’
The siblings, named after jazz legends John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald, call their father Doug.
Before the inauguration, she told The New York Times she hoped her father would take up knitting, ‘like I do.’
Her mother tweeted the news of her IMG deal, saying: ‘Very proud (but nervous) MAMA! Ella will stay true to her cheeky self with all of our support.’
Emhoff said: ‘I’ve obviously got a bigger platform now, and I’m excited to share a lot of things I really care about, and do some good.’
She said she was ‘excited to do things like wear fun clothes’ and ‘to bring a bit of Bushwick into the high fashion realm’.
She also hoped to fundraise for knitwear artists.
‘There are a lot of people out there that need a lot of help,’ she said.
‘If I can do anything to help with that, I want to, and I think this opportunity will be really beneficial toward that.’