Lake Forest product Farrah Emami watched her life change seven years ago in August when the then-Loyola Marymount University student began an internship in the Office of Communications for President George W. Bush. Working in the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House, Emami assisted the president’s mostly Texan “rapid response team.” She answered phones, checked facts, tracked media issues, ran errands and even served as a human prop during one of the president’s historic post-9/11 bill-signing ceremonies in the East Room.
“I was so impressed,” recalls Emami, who can thank her Persian father and British mother for her runway-model looks. “I fell in love with political public relations.”
Getting an opportunity to be close to power and history wouldn’t have happened if she’d listened to naysayers who insisted that only well-connected people get White House internships. Until that point, she’d worked at the front desk for the Surf and Sand Hotel in Laguna Beach, as a daycare-center assistant and as a college gym clerk.
“I didn’t let that stop me and applied anyway,” Emami says. “I was really fortunate that I got to enjoy an eye-opening experience in Washington when I was 20. I was this little person in a huge organization, but I was there!”
It served as a lesson in self-reliance, one she’d later parlay into Orange County’s criminal-justice power structure. Today, the upbeat, optimistic 27-year-old Emami sits in a 10th-floor Santa Ana office working as a spokeswoman for Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The El Toro High School graduate won the job in May 2006 after beating out more than 100 other candidates. People had discouraged her from applying because they said she was too young; again, she ignored the advice.
Four years later, Emami handles the high-pressure job like an old pro. If journalists have an unofficial list of government media handlers who are lazy and deceitful, she is not on it. She is invariably professional, although she’s not afraid to put an obnoxious reporter in his place. “I like being here,” she says. “And I feel good about what I do.”
1. Rely on Family and Friends.
“I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by people who are interesting, smart, charismatic, loyal, fun, supportive and beautiful. I can’t say enough about them—they’re all truly amazing.”
2. Find a Great Mate.
Of her boyfriend, Emami says, “We have a shared sense of spontaneity and adventure and always have fun together. We seem to bring out the best in each other, and he makes me genuinely happy.”
3. Unwind Regularly.
“I always have fun at Muldoon’s Irish Pub. It’s a weekend favorite for me because of the great laidback atmosphere, live music and friendly staff.” 202 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-4110; www.muldoonspub.com.
4. Admire the View.
“The parks surrounding the Montage Laguna Beach have breathtaking views, lots of tables and benches, and are free to the public. It’s a great place for an afternoon picnic overlooking the ocean.” 30801 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (866) 271-6953; www.montagelagunabeach.com.
5. Roll With It.
“I love Maki-Zushi. They have the best sushi and the best chef. I’m there so often they named the ‘Farrah roll’ after me.” 1641 Edinger Ave., Tustin, (714) 259-0783; www.maki-zushi.com.
6. Find a Good Sunset Spot.
“I like the Rooftop Lounge in Laguna Beach because I can have a cocktail with my friends and enjoy the sunset.” 1289 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-2446; www.rooftoplagunabeach.com.
7. Exercise With Your Dog.
Emami prefers to take her pooch to Huntington Dog Beach. “It’s nice to be at the beach and have a place where my dog can be off his leash and get some exercise. Between me and him, I don’t know who likes it more.” West side of Pacific Coast Highway between Seapoint Street and 21st Street, Huntington Beach.
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8.Escape the Everyday.
“The tucked-away feel of Crystal Cove Beach Cottages, The Beachcomber Café and the beach make it a fun afternoon or weekend getaway.” Crystal Cove Beach Cottages,15 Crystal Cove, Newport Beach; www.crystalcovebeachcottages.com. The Beachcomber Café, 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, (949) 376-6900; www.thebeachcombercafe.com.
9. Do Good.
“I’m involved with this nonprofit that helps survivors of human trafficking. I think it’s a great cause and have built some great friendships with the women who run and support iSanctuary.” www.isanctuary.wordpress.com.
10. Appreciate What You Have.
“We’re an hour from Los Angeles and San Diego; we’re close to the mountains and desert. We have beautiful beaches, a convenient airport and bright, sunny weather that allows me to drive with the top down almost year-round.”