Photography: Andreas Branch
Styling: Lauren Buchsbaum
Hair: Joseph Chase
Makeup: Shannon Pezzetta
According to Emmanuelle Chriqui, Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Dillon are her “brothers.” Well, they better be—especially if they’ve all made it a point to be at the hospital while she’s giving birth.
To be fair, it isn’t Emmanuelle herself who’s having a baby: it’s her character, Sloan McQuewick, in the HBO series-turned-film Entourage. The other part is true though: the group, like their onscreen characters, really is like a family (and Turtle—Ferrara—did once refer to the fictional embryo as “our baby,” after all).
It’s been nearly four years since the TV show’s 2011 series finale, but Chriqui swears that in shooting the movie, it felt like the show wrapped yesterday. “It was maybe the third or fourth day back on set and all the guys were together in the hospital when I’m about to give birth—it was all of us together again—and it was literally like no time had passed. It was hard to believe that it had been three-and-a-half years since the show ended,” she says.
Perhaps one of the key reasons why the cast felt as if time had stopped is because—onscreen, at least—it actually did. “When we start the film, Sloan is eight months pregnant,” Chriqui says. “Eight months after the series ended is where we pick up the film.”
The movie picks up where the series left off; both focus on the rise and fall of pretty boy actor Vincent Chase (Grenier) and his “entourage” of longtime best friends from Queens. In the film, former agent-turned-studio chief Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) bankrolls Vince’s directorial debut with a $100 million budget, which, naturally, goes over…by a lot. Given how Hollywood-centric the show was, fans should expect more of the same on an even greater scale from the film.
Not only do Mark Wahlberg, Calvin Harris, Jessica Alba, Tom Brady, Liam Neeson, Russell Wilson, Ronda Rousey, Pharrell Williams, George Takei, T.I. and even Warren Buffett make cameo appearances in the movie, which hits theaters on June 3rd, but director Doug Ellin actually even shot live footage at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards.
“It was epic,” Chriqui says of the latter. “It was one of those things that was like, ‘Only Entourage could pull this off.’ It’s so unheard of.”
For those who wondered about the tumultuous, soap opera worthy relationship her character has with baby daddy Eric “E” Murphy, well, you can just keep wondering. “She and E are not together. They’ve decided they’ll co-parent. She’s in a great place, and then the film unravels,” Chriqui shares, though she “can’t say” whether or not the two will resume their relationship after the birth of their child.
She can admit how much she loves the guys she came to know and respect greatly over the course of eight years. “They’re my brothers for sure,” she declares. “There are a few I stay in touch with more than others; Jerry Ferrara and Kevin Connolly and I hang out in similar social circles, so I’m more likely to see them than the other guys. [I hang out with] Adrian Grenier as well, and on occasion, Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dillon; Perrey Reeves is a really good friend of mine. Certainly when we’re all together it feels like family. Hollywood is tic-tac small; you end up seeing everybody at some point, and when you do, it’s always great.”
The 39-year-old actress sees Grenier in particular more than just socially: the two share a mutual passion for philanthropy, and are both dedicated to saving the environment.
She invested in his 52: The Search for the Loneliest Whale project, a documentary film about how noise pollution is affecting whales, and both actively work with environmental organizations; she with the Young Hollywood Board of the EMA, he with the Environmental Media Association itself. Her most recent eco-awareness work was a campaign in support of Project Mermaids—celebrity portraits taken by fashion photographer Angelina Venturella and underwater photographer Chiara Salomoni designed to show how precious the ocean and beaches are.
Her number one cause, however, is Raise Hope for Congo—a campaign of the Enough Project that aims to build a permanent and diverse constituency of activists who will advocate for the human rights of Congolese citizens, and seeks to end the ongoing conflict in the Congo.
Chriqui’s passion for the organization is evident; her face becomes animated, her hand gestures wild, and her words race out of her mouth like torpedoes.
“I raise awareness for women and girls in the Congo, and educate Americans that we are directly linked to a conflict mineral war. Everything that we use—telephones, computers, etcetera—comes from these mines. It’s very similar to the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone. It wasn’t, ‘Don’t buy diamonds or wear diamonds,’ it was more, ‘Let’s infuse peace in Sierra Leone—let’s not have it be all rape and crazy s**t happening just to get our diamonds.’ Energetically, you don’t want to wear something so beautiful that people got killed for; that doesn’t correlate to me. We can so make a difference simply by redirecting our energies. We can help an entire country. I find that necessary,” she declares.
Chriqui has been actively recruiting others to the cause, including longtime friend and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “Over the years, he’s always heard me talk about it, and really recognized my passion. I introduced him to [Enough Project founder] John Prendergast, my mentor. John has dedicated his life to educating us about all things Africa. When Aaron met John, he was like, ‘Whoa. I want to be part of this.’ He gets inundated with charity requests, and he really felt like he could do something about this.
“Crazy enough,” she adds, “one of the only Congolese players in the NFL is on the Packers—Andy Mulumba—and he’s also now on the board with us. That’s fate.”
Moving forward, Chriqui plans on continuing her work with the Congo (and hopefully even visiting the region this summer) and on keeping herself engaged with a variety of diverse roles. In addition to playing the daughter of a Hollywood bigwig on Entourage, she stars as a tough, plainclothes sergeant on TNT’s Murder in the First and Herodias in National Geographic Channel’s Killing Jesus, which broke records for the network when it aired in March.
“As an actor, I always want to challenge myself and surprise people,” she states. “The last thing an actor is one thing. We’re a thousand things, and we don’t always get the opportunities to show that. This year, for example, I have the Entourage movie; then we have Murder in the First, where I play a plainclothes sergeant in the gang unit, so she’s real street; then I have Killing Jesus, where I play a queen in ancient times. Could they be any more different? That makes my creative self very happy.”
But what brings Chriqui personal joy? The answer, in fact, is actually quite simple: self-love. “I do a lot of work this foundation called I Am That Girl. Its whole initiative is about having girls love themselves, and that we all come in different shapes and sizes; that beauty comes from inside. I wish I had had that when I was younger, because I might not have been so hard on myself, and had just appreciated it when I had it. It’s an epidemic in this country, and definitely in this town. It’s definitely important work. It inspires me, and makes me go, ‘I need to hear this. I need to be reminded that I’m lovable regardless of whatever I look like.’”
Chriqui loves to exercise and eats well, but came to the realization that—despite the overwhelming expectation that you must be thin to be a Hollywood star—she just doesn’t care anymore. Screw the expectations: she’s happy with who she is (and look at her—she’s beautiful).
“At a certain point you realize, ‘Oh, our bodies change,’” she says, vowing, “I’m not going to starve myself to remain at a 24 jean. As much as it makes me sad, because that means I have to get rid of half of my closet, it’s not realistic anymore. To do that would mean to starve myself, and why? It’s not naturally where I am anymore. The only thing that makes me really sad is looking back, I never appreciated it when I had it. I would say to any woman, young girl or teenager, just f***ing appreciate it, man.”
If you’re surprised by her candor, then you’ll be equally staggered to hear about her biggest fantasy. “My dream would be to live on a commune, have my own garden and be surrounded by a community of people who are innovative, creative, and amazing,” she shares, citing the Burning Man festival—which she’s been to twice—as an example. “Whenever I’m in a situation like that, I’m like, ‘This is what it’s all about!’ [When I would go] I would bring little glow things; I’d share them and say, ‘You’re too dark—you need some light!’ Those kinds of environments, where it’s all love based, are great; it’s so fluffy and hippy dippy, and it’s my jam. It’s seriously what I dream about.”
While her secret self wishes she could have been a teenager during the Woodstock era, the Emmanuelle of reality is a very different person. She’s raw, she’s honest, and she doesn’t have time for bullshit—of the Hollywood variety or otherwise.
“I’m very hardworking, and I don’t like to fail. I don’t like to get into a situation where I’m not prepared; I will not go on set if I don’t know my lines. I’m very studious. I’m a bit of a control freak. I see things to be a certain way. My challenge is to allow myself to flow. I would describe myself as sensitive, probably to a fault. My feelings can get easily hurt, but only by the people I care about. I’m afraid of getting bored: it’s my biggest fear in life,” she admits, adding, “Another way of describing myself is ‘naturally always searching for joy.’ I love laughing; when I don’t laugh for a long time, it’s like my soul is not in a good place.”
She pauses thoughtfully, and smiles serenely. “Where there is joy, everything exists.”