Former Teen Model Ruhl Now A Movie Producer

Park Cities native’s upstart company has two projects set to premiere at SXSW in March

Sometimes you have to take risks to fulfill your creative ambitions, such as when Emily Ruhl used her college fund to finance a movie.

The Park Cities native had very little experience when she wrote and directed the short film Blue Moon, for which she won acclaim on the festival circuit in 2021.

However, Ruhl has since validated the wager that transitioned her career from a full-time model to founder of a production company with several independent projects in the works.

“The transition into film, along with the founding of my company, all happened during COVID,” Ruhl said. “We all had a lot of time to think about what we wanted to do. I had a bright idea. In that process, I realized I wanted to keep doing this over and over again.”

She’s based in Los Angeles now, but Ruhl will return to Texas in March as executive producer — through her company, Public School Pictures — of two films being showcased at the prestigious SXSW Film & TV Festival in Austin.

The feature We Strangers is a haunting drama about race and caste systems in America, while the short comedy The Last Brunch explores the universal experience in a post-COVID world.

“Making movies is large-scale gambling, but fun and creative. To have that stamp of approval solidifies that brand that we’re trying to cultivate,” Ruhl said. “We’re going in the right direction. All of those stressful days and nights are completely worth it.”

She still visits Dallas frequently to see family, and has roots here dating back several generations. So the SXSW experience will be special.

Ruhl, 27, started as a child model in the Park Cities before moving to Tokyo for about a year at age 13. She returned to attend Highland Park High School, then left to immerse herself in the New York modeling scene while earning her diploma through an online program.

Ruhl has been featured in some high-profile fashion and cosmetic campaigns. She expanded into acting with a small role in the 2017 feature Newness, which starred Nicholas Hoult (Renfield).

As she builds connections in the industry, Ruhl is becoming a champion for diverse voices and perspectives in the projects she chooses.

She’s already begun an expansion into television and podcasting, has launched her own fashion line, and hopes to mentor aspiring young filmmakers. Ruhl said modeling is still on the table, too, if the right opportunity arises.

“It will always be part of me and my career,” Ruhl said. “It’s wonderful to be able to express all these different parts of who you are. It definitely keeps life exciting.”

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