Who Are Emily Ratajkowski’s Parents? Meet John David Ratajkowski and Kathleen Balgley

Haylee Thorson - Author

Mar. 27 2023, Published 1:04 p.m. ET

Emily Ratajkowski
Source: Getty Images

So far, Emily Ratajkowski has had quite a year in the dating department! From Pete Davidson to Eric Andre to Harry Styles, the My Body author’s repertoire contains no shortage of A-list celebrities.

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While the 31-year-old’s romantic life is undoubtedly a hot topic at the moment, you might wonder about lesser-known aspects of her identity. From the people who raised her to her heritage, here's everything you need to know about Emily Ratajkowski’s parents and ethnicity.

Emily Ratajkowski
Source: Getty Images
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Who are Emily Ratajkowski’s parents? Meet John David Ratajkowski and Kathleen Balgley.

On June 7, 1991, Emily Ratajkowski was born in London to her American parents, John David “J.D.” Ratajkowski and Kathleen Balgley. The model was J.D. and Kathleen’s only child, and they raised their daughter in Encinitas, Calif.

Emily’s father, J.D., is an artist from Coronado — located in San Diego County — whose work has appeared in more than 25 exhibitions across the U.S. and Europe.

Additionally, he taught art for over four decades in San Diego, “mentoring generations of art students who have established themselves as serious artists and continue to stay in regular contact with their teacher.”

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The My Body author’s mother, Kathleen, is a teacher. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and lectured at UCLA and UCSD.

Aside from teaching, Kathleen is also an acclaimed author, releasing her memoir Letters to My Father: Excavating a Jewish Identity in Poland and Belarus in 2022.

What is Emily Ratajkowski’s ethnicity?

In 2014, the Gone Girl actress opened up about her ethnicity in a Q&A with Allure. Emily describes herself as “Polish-Israeli,” although she also has English, German, and Irish heritage.

Her father, J.D., is Roman Catholic, while her mother, Kathleen, is Jewish. During a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, the model revealed that people in Hollywood often encouraged her to change her last name because it was seemingly difficult to pronounce.

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However, her father encouraged her to stick with her original surname. "People have told me to change it over the years, but my dad is always saying: 'Never change your name!'" Emily admitted. "My middle name is O'Hara, so it's a pretty epic name. Emily O'Hara Ratajkowski."

Emily Ratajkowski opened up about her relationship with her parents in her book ‘My Body.’

Who Are Emily Ratajkowski’s Parents?
Source: Getty Images

Emily’s relationship with her parents was anything but easy growing up. J.D. and Kathleen were on and off while dating but decided to get married when Kathleen became pregnant. "I understood that even before I was born my existence was the essential glue of their relationship,” Emily wrote.

"After every such explosion, which usually ended with one of them leaving, the other would turn to me to plead their case or to air their grievances. I'd listen, performing my role dutifully, feeling a queasiness that would stay with me for days."

Kathleen also valued Emily more for her beauty than anything else. "My mother seems to hold the way my beauty is affirmed by the world like a mirror, reflecting back to her a measure of her own worth,” she said.

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