Emma Ward always dreamed of being a model and living the high life in the USA.
And no matter how many people laughed at her grand ambitions, she was determined to achieve them.
Emma, 33, said: “As a kid I was a bit of a show-off and it was my dream to be a model.
“I did get a lot of rejections though. I approached a few agencies when I was younger, but they kept saying no and that I wasn’t right.
“I used to tell people at school that one day I would live in Hollywood and they laughed at me.
“I was always very ambitious, though, and had goals I wanted to achieve.”
Emma, a former pupil at Parklands High School, won a modelling competition at the age of 16 and put together a portfolio to use when contacting modelling agencies.
And she was finally “spotted” on a train when she was 19 years old and signed up to Manchester-based model agency, Boss.
Emma, who grew up in Whittle-le-Woods and Chorley, said: “It took off for me. I moved to London and travelled around the world.”
She worked in many different countries including Germany, Australia, South Africa, Greece and Dubai.
In 2005, she was the face of Wrangler Jeans and appeared on billboards across France and Germany.
Emma was then booked for a photo shoot in San Diego, USA, for Harley Davidson and it was a job that changed her life in a big way.
She said: “The crew on the set were telling me about LA and how the industry works. They pay big money in America.
“While I was in America, I popped to LA and saw some agents. They wanted to take me on and sponsor me.
“I sold my car and packed up my bags and moved to LA.
“I was excited, I loved it. I was always up for new challenges and new opportunities.”
But it did not live up to her expectations straight away.
She said: “I hated it when I got to LA.
“Everyone was so fake and trying to be famous. They were not interested in being friends, they just wanted to promote their careers.
“They didn’t get my dry, Northern sense of humour and I didn’t fit in with the LA and Hollywood people.”
Emma was determined to make the most of the opportunity though and stayed to pursue her career.
And she soon found herself among Hollywood’s rich and famous.
“I went to Mariah Carey’s house and I met Elton John and Kirsten Dunst,” she said.
“I used to work at celebrity events. One time, they didn’t tell me whose party it was and I was handing out champagne at the door. Harrison Ford and Jack Nicholson walked in and it was such a shock.”
She did eventually get used to seeing the famous faces.
She said: “After seven years of living there, I did get used to seeing the celebrities. My daughter used to play with Gwen Stefani’s kids in the park and I met Brad Pitt.
“They were really nice, but it was the other people who wanted to be famous who were very superficial and mean.”
Emma did a lot of high fashion photo shoots and appeared in television adverts in the USA .
And despite initially having no plans to become an actor, she appeared in The Midnight Meat Train, starring Vinnie Jones and Bradley Cooper.
Emma said: “Vinnie Jones killed me, flung me over his shoulder and dumped me with some dead bodies.
“It took a week to do the scene, but it was a great experience.”
Emma’s personal life also changed in the USA, as she met her husband and had a daughter, Bailey, now five.
And last year, she decided it was time to leave LA and return to her home town of Chorley.
Emma, who lives in Euxton, said: “I came back and started to re-establish myself. I appreciate the banter and the lifestyle and the realness of it all. It’s quite refreshing.
“I’m not saying it’s forever, but I am happy I came back and that my daughter is around her family.”
Emma has signed up with Nemesis modelling agency, run by Take That’s founder Nigel Martin-Smith.
She is also taking acting classes, has an agent and recently went for a casting for Hollyoaks. Now that she is back in Chorley, Emma has also taken on a new role as regional director for Lancashire for the Miss Lancashire and Miss British Empire beauty pageants.
She said: “I thought it would be a really good opportunity to help aspiring models who want to go down my path.
“I felt like I never had any help or support at that age.
“I want to help young girls who do have dreams and goals and want to be a model or actor.
“This is a great opportunity for them to get their foot in the door.”
Emma plans to hold the Miss Lancashire competition in either Chorley or Leyland later this year and is already securing sponsors.
The winner will progress to the next round of the competition and have the chance to win a host of prizes, including the opportunity to fly to LA for a photo shoot.
Emma certainly has her hands full and despite now being in her thirties, she still finds plenty of work.
She said: “When you get past 30, there is still so much work out there.
“Not all models are skinny 16-year-olds.”
After achieving so much, Emma still has big goals.
“I have achieved a lot and I don’t have any regrets in life,” she said. “I would like to turn on the Chorley Christmas lights one day.
“I would also like a part in a soap like Emmerdale.”
And she has not ruled out returning to the USA one day.
She now holds dual citizenship for both the UK and USA.
Emma said: “You never know what the future holds.
“I became an American citizen for a reason – I might move back there one day.
“I would like to go back to Hollywood and be a James Bond girl.
“My goal as a teenager was to be a Bond girl.
“Of course, I would also love to be in an X-Men movie or be Lara Croft.”
To find out more about the Miss British Empire competition, go to www.missbritishempire.co.uk.