Emily Jean “Emma” Stone was born on November 6, 1988 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her family’s surname was anglicized to Stone when her grandfather, who is of Swedish descent, immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island. Stone began acting when she was 11, with her first stage role in a youth theater production of The Wind in the Willows. Throughout middle school, she appeared in 16 productions with the theater, some of which included The Princess and the Pea, Alice in Wonderland, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She also performed with the theater’s improvisational comedy troupe.
After attending an all-girl Catholic high school for one semester, Stone dropped out in order to focus on an acting career. To convince her parents to let her move to Los Angeles, the witty actress put together a PowerPoint presentation aptly titled “Project Hollywood,” set to Madonna’s song, “Hollywood.” Her tactic proved successful, and in January 2004, at the age of 15, Stone moved with her mother to a Los Angeles apartment.
Emma soon began auditioning for roles, often standing out for her signature raspy voice. The fiery young actress was so dedicated that she dyed her childhood blonde locks a dark brown, hoping that the change would help her land more serious roles.
She got her first break as the winner of the VH1 reality show In Search of the New Partridge Family (2004). The reality competition featured eight aspiring young actresses, all competing for the role of Laurie Partridge for the revival of the 1970s classic sitcom. Contestants were judged on their singing, acting and resemblance to the original Laurie. The young actress, who went by Emily Stone at the time, won over the crowd with a cover of Pat Benatar’s “We Belong”, and landed the role. Although the resulting show never made it past the pilot, it served as a starting point for Stone’s career, and led her to future manager Doug Wald.
After her run with reality TV, Stone began making appearances on several hit programs, including Malcolm in the Middle and NBC’s Medium. She soon landed a regular role as 17-year-old Violet Trimble on the FOX drama Drive (2007), which lasted only one season. Around this time, Emma auditioned for a role on the hit science-fiction show Heroes (2006), ultimately losing the part to young actress Hayden Panettiere.
In 2007, Stone made her feature film debut in the teen comedy Superbad, alongside Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. The film, which was written and produced by Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow, was a box-office hit and received a strong critical response. A year later, Stone starred in the comedy The Rocker, with Rainn Wilson and Christina Applegate; and The House Bunny, with fellow comedy actress Anna Faris.
Over the next few years, Emma emerged onto the Hollywood scene with roles in several big films, including Ghost of Girlfriends Past, Zombieland and Paper Man — all of which were released in 2009.
Emma’s next big film came in 2010, with the lead role of Olive Penderghast in the teen comedy Easy A. The film, which was inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, surrounds the life of an innocent high school student whose reputation is jeopardized by rumors of promiscuity. Stone’s witty and charming performance in the film earned her a Golden Globe nomination for best actress. She received critical praise again in 2011, as college graduate and aspiring writer Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan in The Help, a film based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same name. The film was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe (best picture). That same year, Stone starred in the hit romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, alongside Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell.
More recently, Stone was cast as Gwen Stacy, the 17-year-old love interest of Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man, which was released in July 2012. A sequel followed in 2014, with she part of the cast as well. Other films on the actress’ roster include Gangster Squad (2013), The Croods (2013) and Magic in the Moonlight (2014). And after starring in the lauded drama/comedy Birdman (2014), Stone received supporting actress Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for playing the outspoken, social-media savvy daughter of a famed actor. Birdman was critically acclaimed, and was the most the successful film at the 87th Academy Awards; it was nominated for nine awards, winning four, including Best Picture. The Movie Network considered it one of Stone’s best performances to date and Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph was impressed with a monologue she delivers, which he thought was “like a knitting needle to the gut”.
She also hit the Broadway stage in late 2014, starring as Sally Bowles in the revival of Cabaret, with Alan Cumming. Considering it to be “the most nerve-racking thing ever”, Stone told the Entertainment Weekly magazine that she listened to a French radio station to mentally prepare herself for the role. Variety‘s Marilyn Stasio was critical of her singing and found her performance “a bit narrow as an emotional platform, but a smart choice for her acting skills, the perfect fit for her sharp intelligence and kinetic energy.”
Both of Emma’s 2015 films—the romantic comedy-drama Aloha, and the mystery drama Irrational Man — were critical and commercial failures, and her roles were panned by critics. In Cameron Crowes’s Aloha, she took on the role of an Asian-American air force pilot alongside Bradley Cooper, and in the Woody Allen-directed Irrational Man, she portrayed the romantic interest of Joaquin Phoenix’s character, a philosophy professor. The former was controversial for whitewashing the cast; Stone later regretted the project, acknowledging whitewashing as a widespread problem in Hollywood.
Outside of her acting roles, Emma is a two-time host of Saturday Night Live (2010 and 2011).
Emma has a close relationship with her family. She says: “I am blessed with a great family and great people around me that would be able to kick me in the shins if I ever for one minute got lost up in the clouds. I’ve been really lucky in that sense.” She maintains close friendships with Jennifer Lawrence and Taylor Swift.
According to Stone, she suffers from asthma, which she discovered after having difficulty breathing while filming Easy A. Her mother was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer and was cured in 2008. Stone and her mother celebrated by getting tattoos of birds feet, designed by Paul McCartney, a reference to the Beatles’ “Blackbird”, which is a song she and her mother love. She appeared in a Revlon campaign that promoted breast cancer awareness.
In 2011, the actress featured in a collaborative video between Star Wars and Stand Up to Cancer, which aimed to raise funds for cancer research. Two years later, she attended an event by Gilda’s Club, an organization working for a similar purpose. From 2012 to 2014, she hosted the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Revlon Run/Walk, which helps fight women’s cancer.
Stone, alongside three other celebrities, was present at the 2012 Nickelodeon HALO Awards, a television special that profiled five teenagers who are “Helping And Leading Others” (HALO).
In 2014, on an occasion in New York, Stone and Garfield encouraged paparazzi to visit websites, which spread awareness of causes, such as autism. She attended the 2014 Earth Hour, a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature. In 2015, she was part of a fundraising event in support of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, which helps people in the television and film industry with limited or no resources.
Currently, she finished filming her third movie with Ryan Gosling—Damien Chazelle’s musical comedy-drama La La Land, in which she plays an actress and the love interest of Gosling’s character. She has signed on to co-star as Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes, a sports comedy-drama based on the 1973 battle of the sexes match between tennis players King and Bobby Riggs. She is also set to star in the drama Love May Fail, based on Matthew Quick’s 2015 novel and Cruella de Vil in a live-action spin-off of One Hundred and One Dalmatians.