Q&A | Emma Laird

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So what do models actually eat? We had the chance to quiz one of the faces at Models 1 on how she fuels herself. Emma Laird took a few moments out of her day to answer some of our questions…

So Emma, what is the most common meal in your household? “Right now I feel very British- I have a real obsession with mushy peas and mint sauce”

Rightly or wrongly, most people have the view that models eat very strictly, or very little - what is your cheat meal? “I find that veganism really helps me to eat how I want and stay in shape. I definitely eat a lot, because it makes me feel good, because I’m very active but also because a lot of what I eat is t that dense in calories (fruits, veggies, potatoes etc). 

So I don’t have strict cheat meals, but tend to enjoy eating healthy 99% of the time. I’d say the less healthy things I do enjoy eating are probably dark chocolate (Bournville is my babe), peanut butter, stuff like that. But I don’t have designated cheat days or meals. I eat intuitively, and eat that stuff whenever I feel like it. I’ve got to that nice stage of balance with food, something I’ve struggled with a while to do”. 

You spoken in previous interviews about being vegan, how did being that come about? “I was veggie for a few years before (I gave meat up for lent because I wanted to give up something easy - I was never into meat really, except the processed stuff like chicken nuggets, which you can get great vegan versions of) and then went vegan for health reasons, a way of eating without restriction. It helps me get my mind in a good place with food again”.  

Apart from meat, and the obvious other non-vegan products, is there anything you actively avoid? “I tend to avoid oils. I hate greasy food anyway, but I really don’t believe oils are beneficial or provide anything that you can’t get from a less refined food with less saturated fat. Like  Omega 3s and 6s I source from flax and chia seeds (great with oats), and tahini (great in salad dressing).

But I don’t let it stress me. I avoid it at home but if I’m out for food then I’m obviously going to enjoy it. All about balance and how you eat 95% of the time!”

Getting back to modelling, what is it like being on a shoot - is it a lot of standing around eating biscuits, or is it all parties & champagne?  “Definitely no champagne on shoots unfortunately. Modelling is great because each shoot is completely differentBut you’ll usually go straight into hair and makeup, or try on some looks with the stylist. 

If there’s a few models on set sometimes you’re waiting around a bit so I usually have a book with me, but half the time it’s pretty intense and nonstop”. 

The gym for me is a place where I’m sweaty and looking terrible, not filming my workouts and looking good for Instagram
— Emma Laird

 So are you able to eat or drink much on a shoot? “Mostly, you’ll turn up to set and get asked if you want anything, a coffee, breakfast etc. Which makes me very happy, especially if it’s an early call time or we’re on location, a hot drink is needed!

If I could give advice to any new photographer or someone working with models, it’s to make sure you feed them. If there’s no food on set, or we don’t break for lunch my energy levels drop, or I get grumpy. The way to my heart is having fruit, coffee, snacks like Nakd bars etc. on set.”

 As a model you must travel a lot, does being vegan become a bit trickier abroad, or is it easier? “Weirdly not. I get asked that a lot. Maybe because I’ve been vegan 3/4 years now I know what to look for or if I’m travelling I’ll take travel snacks like dried fruit, hummus and veggies. My downfall is forgetting to ask my agents to book me a vegan meal on my flights. I need to get better at that. Airport food is rather dull- and annoyingly expensive”.

What essentials do you carry with you when you travel - anything unusual in your travel bag? “Always an empty water bottle, there’s usually refill points at airports. My coffee cup too so I don’t have to get disposable ones!”

Do you go to the gym much? What does a models gym session look like for you? “I really hate working out with models, unless they’re my friends. Simply because I’d rather not be self-conscious. The gym for me is a place where I’m sweaty and looking terrible, not filming my workouts and looking good for Instagram. Those group classes are great, and loads of my friends film their workouts with their trainers which is cool but I can’t look that good when I’m working out.  The gym is a private thing for me so I’ll go to circuit classes or cycle classes. My phone stays in the locker!”

Is there a shoot that stands out in particular for you? Why? “Probably just the ones where I’ve turned up to set and my friends were there, or it’s a team or photographer I’ve worked with loads. I love meeting new people and the excitement of that, but nothing beats working with old friends!

I do love working with this makeup artist called Andrew Gallimore. He really is an artist. He’s attached strings to my face before, we’ve done some really cool stuff for Hunger Magazine before. Shoots with him are always fab!”

Find Emma on Instagram for more amazing shots from her modelling career.