My main criteria for photographing these people is that Marilyn has to be a large part of their lives, either as a profession or something they personally draw inspiration from. I’m less concerned about how much they look like Marilyn and more concerned about their motivations for becoming her. The women I have met through this project want to portray the real Marilyn, not the overly sexualized, overly simplified version of her.—Emily Berl
Marilyn is a series that began as a way for photographer Emily Berl to explore her new home of Los Angeles after living on the east coast for her entire life. After she moved, she started thinking about what LA represents to people and why they are drawn there, coming to the conclusion that it all leads back to the idea of the “Hollywood Dream” and how people have been chasing it for generations. Berl turned to celebrity icon Marilyn Monroe as the ultimate symbol of that dream and began photographing people who dress as Marilyn. Some are actors who consider playing Marilyn as a role. Others are life-long fans that impersonate her as a way of paying tribute to and protecting the legacy of the icon they love. Some even find such strong personal connections to Marilyn’s story that they feel impersonating her is inevitable.
Feature Shoot Contributing Editor Julia Sabot is the Associate Photo Editor at Dwell.