It takes roughly three minutes for Emma Myers, one of the young stars of Netflix's Wednesday, to show me the Mingyu sticker on her purple iPhone. It's a fan-made illustration of the 6-foot-2 Korean idol as a dog, a playful allusion to his puppy-like personality. She got it when she attended SEVENTEEN's Newark show in early 2020, her favorite concert ever, and she's had it in her phone case ever since. "I've never taken it out," Emma tells Teen Vogue over Zoom.
You can learn a lot about someone through the ways in which they love something. For Emma, it's effusive and all-consuming, forever expanding like ink in water. "I don't understand people who are sort of casual about something," the 20-year-old says. "When I get into something, that is my whole personality for a very long time." Emma has been a Carat, or a fan of SEVENTEEN, for just over five years. Her entry point was a meme that interpolated the group's sticky 2016 single "Aju Nice" into a viral Vine. Her bias is Jeonghan for reasons she still struggles to articulate ("there's just something about him"). And she most recently attended their Be The Sun tour in Atlanta, the city she's called home since she was 16. Talking to Emma about our mutual interest in K-pop is easy; we speak the same language, a sacred tongue shared among fans.
Emma has been a fan of things for as long as she can remember. "When I was younger, I would measure my life by what I was interested in," she says.
It started with The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars — two fantastical pillars of online fandom that shaped the way Emma saw the world and imagined herself in it. As an introvert, she had an overactive imagination and sought out works of speculative fiction. She liked Marvel and The Legend of Zelda, and she'd spend her free time away from the dance studio playing narrative visual novels and adventure games like "Ace Attorney" and "Professor Layton" on the family computer. She used to tape photos of Levi Ackerman, the ruthless antihero of Attack on Titan, into her notebooks. From a galaxy far, far away to the open-air vistas of Hyrule, she immersed herself in surreal tales of complicated heroes and charismatic villains, of orcs and monarchs and titans.
In middle school, she got into emo and alternative bands Twenty One Pilots, Panic at the Disco, and Fall Out Boy. She'd watch hours of creators Dan and Phil on YouTube. When she saw them live in 2016, she and a group of friends bought matching merch. The following morning, she wore her new t-shirt to dance practice. The other kids didn't understand her enthusiasm.
"I was kind of an outsider because I was into things more than the normal kid would be," she recalls. "And I got bullied for it." Now, years later and armed with the wisdom you only know through experience, she can see it all a bit more clearly: "Some people can't let go of the fact that people enjoy things that make them happy."