When I was a little kid, the name Emma was practically unique. I knew lots of Kate’s and several variations of Jennifer’s, a few Amanda’s and smattering of Sarah’s. At the time there were no famous Emma’s that I was aware of, unless you counted the title character from the Jane Austen novel (played by Gweneth Paltrow in the 1996 film. I haven’t yet seen the new Emma movie with Anya Taylor-Joy.) I was in high school before I met another real-life girl named Emma.
These days the name, and the exceptional girls and women who own it, seems to be everywhere. I personally know at least three. That’s not counting the fictional, historical, and famous Emma’s that are taking the world by storm.
Today, in the most vain of vanity projects, I want to introduce you to some of the fabulous ladies who share my name.
- Emma Stone – Who doesn’t love her “distinctive husky voice”? She supposedly created a PowerPoint to pitch the idea of moving to Hollywood when she was 15. Her parents said yes. She has since appeared in Easy A, The Help, and Zombieland just to name a few of my favorites. Oh, she also won an Oscar for her performance in La La Land.
- Emma Donoghue – Doublin born author of Room and Akin, along with more than a dozen other books I didn’t realize existed until now. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be trapped in one room for your entire life under the eye of an abusive man who kidnapped your mother and impregnated her to make you, read Room.
- Emma Watson – She will forever be known as Hermonie in the Harry Potter Movies, but this Parisian-born, British-raised actress is also a UN Women Goodwill ambassador and a big advocate of gender equality.
- Emma Bull – Hugo and Nebula nominated science fiction and fantasy author who wrote the spectacular War for the Oaks, a book that changed the way I think about fantasy stories. Seriously. Read it.
- Emma Goldman – Despite her Lithuanian birth, she was known as the American Anarchist. An extreme leftist, she spoke to groups of students and workers about socialism and anarchy. Love her or hate her ideology, there’s no denying that Goldman shook the world with her words.
- Emma Lazarus – You might have read her work inscribed on the bronze plaque below the Statue of Liberty. Born wealthy and brought up with private tutors, she seemed destined to be a poet.
Weirdly there’s also an email marketing software named Emma (no relation). A mattress calls itself Emma and some sort of writing and portfolio site that uses the name Emma with an underscore. Plus EMMA is the acronym for the Electronic Municipal Market Access, an organization that provides access to documents and data related to municipal securities. (Yeah, I don’t really know what that means either). There’s also the European Mouse Mutant Archive (so that’s a thing).
No matter how many people and organizations claim it, the name has always felt special to me. I’m proud to share it with so many powerful, educated, earth-changing women.
Know an Emma? Send her this blog post, or comment below and tell me about her.