Modern day politicians have become something of a package deal. As these politicians grow more and more powerful, it really thrusts their family into the international spotlight.
This is especially true of Kamala Harris and her family. While she is busy making history as the first female vice president, her stepdaughter Ella Emhoff has become a celebrity in her own right.
But what do we really know about the relationship between Kamala Harris and Ella Emhoff? Here’s everything you need to know.
Not rushing in
One interesting thing about Harris and her stepdaughter is that they really eased into their relationship. And this was a conscious decision that Kamala made because, like Ella, she is also a child of divorce.
In an article she wrote for Elle, Harris opened up about this. “As a child of divorce, I knew how hard it could be when your parents start to date other people,” she wrote. “So, we took it slow, and Doug and I put a lot of thought into when and how I would first meet the kids. And that meant waiting. As we waited, anticipation grew.”
When they met for the first time, it was at Ella’s favorite restaurant. Harris was overjoyed at how welcoming Ella and her brother were. And Ella approved of Harris right away.
In an interview with Glamour, Ella said, “I think when we met her, I was about to go into high school, so I was in an equally intense time, but for different, more angsty reasons. It felt serious when he was just talking about her, because I could hear it in his voice,” she said. “When we did meet, it all felt so natural that it wasn’t even a big deal.”
A tough work/life balance
One potential obstacle between Kamala Harris and Ella Emhoff is how busy Harris was and continues to be. Her time as a senator and then running for president (and later vice president) meant that she ended up missing some important events.
The biggest instance was missing Ella’s high school graduation because Harris had to serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. James Comey’s testimony on June 8, 2017 meant Harris couldn’t attend Ella’s graduation.
This moment really tore her up inside. Writing for Elle, Harris later said that Ella “could not have been more understanding when I told her I wouldn’t be able to make it back in time, but I still felt awful about it.”
A sweet nickname
Perhaps the biggest sign of Ella accepting Harris came in the form of a cute nickname. Even though Harris is Ella’s stepmom, Ella and her older brother Cole didn’t think that label really worked.
Instead, they started calling her “Momala” as a cute combination of “mom” and “Kamala.” In addition to being an adorable nickname, this shows that Ella views Harris in much the same way that she views her biological mother.
Making the effort
Divorce is particularly tricky when children are in the mix. Aside from questions of custody, parents and step-parents need to make important decisions about who will actually raise the children.
However, Kamala, her husband Doug, his ex-wife, and their children have found a way to make it work. In a January 2021 interview with The New York Times, Ella opened up about the surprising dynamic between her parents and Kamala.
“They have good communication between the three of them. They are really a unit, like a three-person parenting squad. It’s really cool,” she said. And in an introspective moment, Ella considers that living through the divorce made it easier for her and her brother to eventually accept Kamala.
“We made it through the random apartments, figuring out the dynamic of it being just us,” she said. By the time Kamala came into their lives, they were fully ready to embrace her.
Ella’s new career
On top of being a wonderful stepmother, Harris has helped to kickstart an amazing new career for Ella!
When Ella attended the presidential inauguration, she did so in style. With glasses, curls, and a breathtaking Miu Miu coat, she took the world by storm. Shortly after the inauguration, Ella was contacted by IMG Models to become one of their models.
Now, Ella is no stranger to creating art and rocking experimental fashion. But her relationship with Kamala Harris helped make Ella’s avant-garde fashion so visible that it gave her a brand new career.
Social media distance
Paradoxically, one of the things that really brings parents and children together is knowing when and where to establish boundaries. Fortunately, this is something Harris and Ella figured out early on.
In an interview with The New York Times, Ella mentioned that neither her father nor Kamala knows what she posts to Instagram. But Ella’s popularity has grown so much that others write about her social media shenanigans. This leads to scenarios where her father and stepmother don’t know she has a new tattoo until they find out from social media.
But through it all, Ella has felt love and support. As she said during the interview, “With hair and tattoos and things like that, I think they’re all in the realm of like, ‘I don’t understand it, but I want you to be who you want to be.'”
Things change on Election Day
The fact that Ella has become so famous in recent months is a bit of a double-edged sword. And that’s because her father and stepmother have become so famous, it’s changed the way they interact with the world.
Ella opened up about this in her interview with The New York Times. “When we went to see them for Election Day, it really hit me,” she said. “Seeing them is a lot different now. There’s a lot more people.”
She described this as an experience of “sharing [her] parents” with the world, and this idea has taken some getting used to. “It’s a really cool thing to wrap your head around — because you get to share all the great things — but it’s also like, huh?!”
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Hope for the future
Kamala Harris has been a powerful inspiration for women around the world. And as it turns out, that inspiration starts at home because she has had a powerful influence on Ella.
In an interview with Glamour, Ella said, “Separating her familial relationship to me, I think it’s super long overdue. It’s so empowering to see someone who’s so sure of herself and is not going to back down.”
Elaborating on that, Ella said, “I hope it will open up the floodgates for a lot more women and especially women of color to just run and then hopefully make it to the top. I think that we’ve needed someone like her to come along.”
And who knows? Perhaps Ella Emhoff will find a way to inspire the world just as much as her famous stepmom has done!