Jacqueline (“Jackie”) Emerson was a senior in high school when she landed her first film role, playing Foxface in “The Hunger Games.” The District 5 tribute, known for her cleverness and red hair — both of which Emerson possesses in real life — made her a natural fit for the part.
Emerson had also just been accepted to her dream school: Stanford University.
Filming for the movie ended before her high school graduation, but Emerson still decided to take a gap year, something she says had been in the cards all along.
“College has always been my number one priority, more than anything,” she says, but in taking a gap year, “I feel like I came to college in a much more mature place.” Emerson, who appeared on our recent list of 15 Incredibly Impressive Students At Stanford, is now a sophomore. She spoke with Business Insider about her current projects, and adjusting to life at Stanford.
Arriving at college was a bit of a culture shock, Emerson says. She’d just spent the last year or so with twenty- and thirty-somethings, whose idea of fun was “playing charades until two in the morning.” College was an entirely different animal. Not to mention that Emerson had just appeared in one of the highest-grossing movies of 2012, and some people recognised her. Luckily, she says it’s never really been an issue.
“Over time it’s become a very comfortable environment,” she says. “So many people here have done way cooler things than I’ve done. Yeah, I was in a movie … but other people are curing cancer, and running their own companies … I feel like I’m constantly being inspired by everyone around me.”
Emerson is focusing her full attention on school right now, but her biggest outside project, which she co-founded during her gap year, is SHE’S SO BOSS, a movement to empower young women. Based on the book “She’s So Boss” by Stacy Kravetz, Emerson and Glass Elevator Media CEO Adrienne Becker created a space where young women could find their voices.
The movement is made up of different, smaller branches that unpack topics like sexism, body image, leadership, and self-confidence. Through video clips and blog posts, Emerson helps ensure that SHE’S SO BOSS is informative, empowering and, most importantly, real. For that reason, she recently launched another branch called Real Talk, along with fellow actors Devin Lytle and JD Durkin. The online community will give young women a place to open up to others and feel comfortable being vulnerable.
A smaller side project of hers is doing voiceover work, and she just finished recording the voice of Scout, the lead character in a new Disney interactive game, “Fantasia: Music Evolved.“
Emerson is majoring in Chinese, and is considering a double-major in psychology or international relations. Being fluent in Mandarin, Emerson knows she wants to continue using the language when she graduates (maybe helping to bring some of the U.S.’s more progressive views on women to China, she says), but as far as plans go, she’s not 100% sure where she’ll end up yet.
“I know what I love and I know what I’m passionate about and I know what I’m working on right now,” she says, “but hopefully it all takes off in the sense that I’ll be able to continue to pursue it.”
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