One Day, Two Premieres – A South by Southwest Photo Diary with Actress & Producer Emily Ruhl


March 28, 2024

Carly Long

Ever wondered what it’s like to step into the shoes of a Hollywood actress and producer? Fortunately for us, Emily Ruhl wanted to take us on that step-by-step journey as she navigated the bustling streets of the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas this month. With her company, Public School Pictures, at the helm, Ruhl unveiled not one, but two eagerly anticipated films on the same day: “The Last Brunch” and “We Strangers.”

No stranger to the film festival circuit, Ruhl’s entertainment career ignited with a breakthrough role opposite Nicholas Hoult in Drake Doremus’ “Newness,” which premiered at the esteemed Sundance Film Festival. She continued to leave her mark on the festival scene, notably with her directorial debut “BLUE MOON,” which premiered at NewFest and graced over 100 festivals worldwide; and her executive production of Georden West’s feature film “Playland,” which debuted at the Rotterdam and Tribeca film festivals.

As a true renaissance figure, Ruhl’s accolades extend beyond her creative endeavors. Recognized as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 in Hollywood and Entertainment for 2024, Ruhl has drawn acclaim for her dedication to advancing diversity and inclusion within the film industry. Through initiatives like the non-profit Back To School program, she aims to pave the way for the next generation of filmmakers by offering students invaluable opportunities and industry exposure.

Following enthusiastic applause at SXSW, “The Last Brunch” was honored as a Vimeo Staff Pick, available for streaming, while “We Strangers” continues to captivate audiences and is currently in discussions for wider distribution.

Emily Ruhl’s SXSW Photo Diary: 

Glam (Mia Santiago and Amanda Thesen) getting me  ready for “The Last Brunch” and “We Strangers” premieres. 

Any favorite product or music you listen to while getting ready? Any routines or must-do beauty steps?

I love to listen to music while getting ready. We were listening to Leon Bridges and Leroy From The North on this day.

When it comes to skincare, I swear by a gentle cleanser followed by a hydrating serum and moisturizer. Keeping my skin hydrated is key for that fresh, glowing look. And of course, I never skip sunscreen – so I don’t burn to an absolute crisp.

As for favorite products, I’m currently obsessed with a hydrating lip balm that gives my lips the perfect subtle shine. And I can’t forget about a good facial mist – it’s so refreshing and gives my skin an instant pick-me-up, especially on those early mornings.

Overall, my beauty routine is all about enhancing my natural features and taking care of my skin. Oh and sleep. As much sleep as I can get.”

Emily Ruhl standing in front of a mirror in a hotel, bending over a purse looking inside of it.
Caption: Rolling up my bandana to complete my look for “The Last Brunch” premiere

What were you feeling in this moment, before the day really got started?

“Feeling nervous, excited, all of it! Anticipation mixed with joy and caffeine.”

Emily Ruhl posing outside in downtown Austin getting ready to get into a white car.
Caption: On the way to “The Last Brunch” premiere

What was the atmosphere like in the streets and around the city?

“SXSW can be crowded, especially in the heart of downtown where most of the action takes place. The sidewalks are bustling with pedestrians, and the streets are filled with a colorful array of food trucks, pop-up shops, and interactive installations. It’s a sensory overload in the best possible way – the sights, sounds, and smells all blend together to create an immersive experience that’s truly one-of-a-kind.”

Emily Rurl posing with the case of "The Last Brunch and the writer/director of the show before its premier.
Caption: Me with the cast of “The Last Brunch” (Taylor Misiak, Julia Bales, Dustin Hahn, & Bridge Stuart) along with the writer/director Jim Cummings and the producer Thomas Cross

Was this before or after the premiere? How were you all feeling in this moment seeing one another, reunited for this debut?

This photo with the group was taken before the premiere, outside of The Getty SXSW Studio. Everyone was thrilled for what was to come.

Watching it back with an audience is so fulfilling and it’s wonderful to laugh amongst them.

Emily Rurl sitting at a restaurant table with a moody setting posing with a menu.
Caption: Me after “The Last Brunch” premiere at my favorite restaurant in Austin called Uchi

What’s your go-to order?

The omakase is my go to. They give you a little bit of everything.

A dark denim jacket placed on a hotel bed with a denim skirt placed below.
Caption: My outfit for the “We Strangers” premiere 

How’d you pick your outfits? 

I styled myself for all of the SXSW events and I wanted to give professional, yet cool with a western twist since everything took place in Austin.

Emily Ruhl standing in front of a hotel door posing for her glad team as they take photo.
Caption: Glam (Mia Santiago and Amanda Thesen) taking photos before I leave for the “We Strangers” premiere

Was there a lot of paparazzi around the festival — or in other words, was this the 50th time you had to pose for a picture today?

Oh, the paparazzi at SXSW can definitely be a presence! While it’s not quite like the red carpets of Hollywood, there are certainly moments when you feel like you’re being pulled in all directions for photos and interviews.

And yes, there are definitely moments when you feel like you’ve posed for the camera for the umpteenth time that day. But hey, it’s all part of the experience, and it’s humbling to know that people are interested in your work and want to capture those moments with you.

Actress and producer Emily Rurl sitting in a car about to leave for a SXSW premier.
Caption: In the car on the way to the “We Strangers” premiere 

Set the scene. Did you have music going? A moment of peace to prepare for the premiere?

There was no music on in the car. The great thing about Austin though, is that we could hear all of the live music happening outside.

What a day! Can you share something people might not realize about life on the film festival circuit?

One aspect of life on the film festival circuit that people might not realize is just how hectic and fast-paced it can be behind the scenes. While attending film festivals can seem glamorous and exciting from the outside, the reality is that it’s often filled with long hours, tight schedules, and a constant whirlwind of events.

Do you have a favorite moment from SXSW you would love to go back to?

Beyond the premieres themselves, what I cherish most about my experience at SXSW is the sense of camaraderie and solidarity among everyone involved in the film.

It’s a reminder of the collaborative nature of filmmaking and the power of storytelling to bring people together.

To close out the day, we need to know — What’s the timeline for your next project, your first TV series, ‘13TH STEPPING’? Will it debut at a festival?

13TH STEPPING is currently in development, and if it were to premiere at a festival… SXSW would be an incredible option.

To keep up with Emily Ruhl, follow her on Instagram @emilyruhl and @publicschoolpictures.


Written by Carly Long | @bycarlylong &

Photography by Ana Patino