How Emily DiDonato Is Building Her Digital Presence

by Eddie Roche

The stunning Emily DiDonato has been the longtime face of Maybelline New York, appeared in countless campaigns, and has the kind of disposition that makes everyone want to be her friend. Lately she’s been focusing on sharing her lovable personality and gorgeous face with the world digitally. She tells THE DAILY how she’s reaching millions and why spreading the message of body positivity remains a focus.

How have you been doing this year?
In the beginning, I was bunkered down in New York with my husband. When things started to lift a little bit, we relocated to the Hamptons and stayed there from May until September; it was really nice to get out of the city. But I missed the energy of the city, so we’re back here. Luckily I’ve been able to stay busy with the brands that I work with. I create content for them and with my own social platforms. I feel like every day I feel different, every week I feel different. Sometimes I’m like, “I got this! I’m going to be productive and positive.” Other days I’m like, “The world is ending and I’m so sad.” It’s a roller coaster for everyone.

It is! Have you taken up any hobbies?
I did a lot of baking and cooking. I’ve done a lot of reading. I took up tennis. I played a lot this summer and have been playing this fall. It was a nice way to exert some energy outside because the gyms were closed. I also got a dog, which technically isn’t a hobby, but it has kept me busy.

Tell us about your new dog!
She’s a goldendoodle named Izzy. We got her Fourth of July weekend. We started training her in the Hamptons and now we’re back in New York City and trying to get her to become a Manhattan pup. It’s a process!

We see you’ve been doing a lot on TikTok. What’s it like creating content this way?
Like many people, I discovered it during the pandemic. Everyone was against it and then started realizing there’s some funny content on there. Now people are totally obsessed with it. I like it because it’s a new way to communicate. I like that the videos are shorter. You’re forced to communicate in a concise way. With YouTube, you have time, you can sit in front of the camera, but with TikTok you have to get your point across or your joke across [quickly]. It forces you to be a little more creative and use a different part of your brain. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve also enjoyed consuming content on there!

We saw the one you posted where you dressed up as Angelina Jolie. You really looked like her!
That was a tutorial I did with my friend Erin Parsons, who is a global makeup artist for Maybelline New York. She and I have so much fun creating or trying to replicate people’s makeup looks. She’s insanely talented. The amount of contour going on in my Angelina look is insane. I did look like Angelina, but it took a lot of steps to get there.

Do you look at the numbers to see how many views you get?
When I first started on TikTok, I did it for fun and didn’t focus on the numbers. Then I posted my third or fourth video and it got 14 million views. It was just me telling the story of how I met my husband on an airplane. I’m looking at the numbers now because they’re crazy.

What was it about the video that connected with people?
I shared that I met him on an airplane and we started dating after that. I think people were like, “Whoa! You can still meet people the old-fashioned way?” I think it’s everyone’s secret dream or fantasy to sit next to someone on an airplane and end up marrying him! Your YouTube channel has a lot of content. Seems like there’s a little bit of everything. What I like about the YouTube videos is that I create content for things that are relevant and interesting to me at the time. For example, I posted a video about intuitive eating and I felt that was relevant because my food [intake] and diet had changed so much during quarantine. I was trying to get better about eating well and listening to my body, but I was so stressed all the time. But I also do videos about makeup and beauty. Sometimes I interview other people. It’s my mood board in video form.


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You did one where you made your favorite cookie.
I was interested to learn that you eat cookies every single day! Maybe every other day. My husband is so crazy about them. They’re almond butter cookies. There’s no flour. It’s almond butter, dark chocolate, egg, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and that’s it. Just a few ingredients. I highly recommend!

Why are you so passionate about creating digital content?
I started my YouTube channel two years ago. I’ve had my Instagram account for years and, like most people when it first started, I was taking pictures of sunsets with cool filters. I thought it was amazing. There was no plan or purpose behind it. But years have passed and social media has become so important for my job as a model. It helps me take my career in new directions and get new clients. It helps me evolve in a lot of ways. Now I’m creating content for brands and editing videos for them. It’s completely different work, but it’s so much more fun in a way. I love the preproduction and post-production more than anything. The editing is my favorite part. I have a creative side that I’m finally tapping into.

What was it like going back to set this year?
On one hand, it was so exciting to get back into the groove and see people I haven’t seen in months. It was fun to get back into a creative process and create an image. I feel like I took for granted how we’re always surrounded by such talented, creative, and vivacious people. I felt so excited and lucky to get back into that. It also felt weird! Everyone’s in masks and gloves, and there’s a COVID team. If anything I was more happy that it was happening in some way as opposed to not at all. I’d rather this new normal than staying at home and not seeing anyone.

Who are some designers you love?
I always love Brandon Maxwell. He’s always a favorite. I love Isabel Marant, Zadig & Voltaire, Max Mara, Rag & Bone, and Zimmermann. I do Zara here and there when I feel like it. A whole range of things!

Emily DiDonato (Getty)

We’ve talked about body positivity in the past and that’s still an important issue to you. Why is that something you care about?
I’ve been in this industry long enough that I feel comfortable talking about my journey with body positivity. When I shared it a few years ago on my YouTube channel, it opened the floodgates. I realized it resonated with so many people. I shared my story and something I struggled with and it resonated with people around the world and in our industry. I got so many messages from so many young girls saying this is how they felt. I still get messages to this day. I’m still trying to find my way and that’s okay.

You’ve been open about saying that you aren’t a sample size and you haven’t been able to walk in every runway show because of that. Do you think the industry is evolving to be more inclusive of someone your size?
I do! When I think about 10 years ago, there was definitely no room for anything outside of the sample size. The industry has come so far, and I think social media has had a lot to do with that. People are vocal about not wanting to see one specific body type, which many brands around the world were pushing for so long. They want to see women of different ages, sizes, and colors. I’m never going to be the girl walking every show at New York Fashion Week, but if we have a relationship and the designers like me and want to make it work, they do. I’m super grateful and privileged that people are willing to do that. There’s always work to do, but I think it’s moving in the right direction.

You’ve been a face of Maybelline New York since 2008! Why has the relationship lasted?
I was so young. I was 16 or 17 when I was discovered by them. Their other spokesmodels stay with them for quite a long time. Christy Turlington has been with them since the ’90s. That’s something I really love about them. They have their spokesmodels, and they support them and champion them. They’ve supported every venture that I have. Maybelline has evolved and I’ve evolved. I went from being a 17-year-old girl, who was super insecure and confused about the modeling industry to an adult. Now we’re collaborating in so many more interesting ways. We’re creating YouTube videos. It’s fun to be creative with them. They’re such good people at Maybelline. I’ve known them all for so long. I know their families and their kids. It’s the ideal partnership in every way. It’s awesome!

Do you still get a kick out of seeing yourself in stores in the makeup aisle?
For sure! My parents and my family are always sending me pictures. It never gets old. The funny thing is whenever I see it, I’m like, “When did we shoot that ad!?” It’s very cool!

Emily DiDonato for Maybelline New York

What will you be doing for the holidays this year?
I’m lucky that both my husband and I are from upstate New York, so we don’t have to go far. We can drive and get rapid tested before we go. I’m sure it will be a little different this year. I think I need to put up some garland and a tree ASAP. I feel like everyone this year is going to feel more excited and grateful.

What do you still hope to achieve professionally?
Of course I’m always excited to be a model and walk shows for designers I love and admire and be in campaigns for brands that I love, but since I’ve focused on building up my digital presence, one day I think I’d love to have my own brand. I don’t know what it would be exactly. But it would be fun to share something I’ve built on my own. That’s the end goal!


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