Emily Vanderwerff: Biography, Facts & Personal Life

Emily St. James, formerly known as Emily Nicole VanDerWerff, is an American journalist, author, podcaster, and critic.

Known for critical writings, Emily Vanderwerff specializes in writing about television.

Right from her time in college, Vanderwerff had begun creating a reputation for her acclaimed writing style, which helped her transition into the writing industry and has seen her write for numerous media platforms.

Among notable platforms Vanderwerff has written for, the most prominent include The Los Angeles Times, Vox, Slantland, The Guardian, The A.V. Club, and Grantland.

While her writings have captured the imaginations and opinions of many, little still is known about the acclaimed writer’s life.

Unraveled in this article are facts about Emily Vanderwerff’s biography, childhood, early life, career, and personal life. 

Emily Vanderwerff Biography Facts

Full NameEmily St. James (Formerly known as Emily Nicole VanDerWerff)
Born30 November 1982
Age39 years
Place of BirthArmour, South Dakota, United States
Hair ColorBrown
Eye ColorBlue
Relationship StatusMarried
SpouseLibby Hill (m. 2003)
EducationSouth Dakota State University
ProfessionWriter, Critic, Journalist, Author
Zodiac SignSagittarius

Emily Vanderwerff Childhood & Early Life

Emily Vanderwerff was born on the 39th of November 1982 in Armor city, South Dakota.

After her high school education, Vanderwerff went to South Dakota State University, where she studied journalism and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2004.

While at South Dakota State University, Vanderwerff wrote for the university student newspaper, The Collegian, which proved to be a starting point in her journalism and writing career. 

Emily Vanderwerff Rise to Fame 

After editor Matt Zoller Seitz came across Vanderwerff’s creative reviews of Battlestar Galactica on her blog and recognized her talents for pointing out plot oversights in television programs, he offered her a spot on The Next Door Roster.

Thus, Zoller Seitz’s offer helped Vanderwerff to start out a career that would make her be loved and hated. 

Vanderwerff, however, earned fame with the launch of A.V. Club’s TV Club, which offered unforgiving criticism for television shows and swayed lots of tv enthusiasts. 

With the launch of her podcast Arden and her new job as Critic at large with Vox, Vanderwerff solidified her fame as one of the best television critics. 

Emily Vanderwerff Career

Since she was a teenager, Vanderwerff had been so passionate about expressing her views on television programs that she loved.

She started her critics’ career by reviewing each episode of Battlestar Galactica on her blog.

Matt Zoller Seitz, an editor, soon came across her blog and recognized her talents. He thus invited her to join The Next Door’s roster. 

Emily Vanderwerff’s rise to fame began in 2009 when she worked as a T.V. editor for the online newspaper The A.V. Club.

She was integral in developing the T.V. Club writing series, which offered criticisms of television shows episode by episode.

Vanderwerff’s efforts in the success of the T.V. Club played a significant role in television recaps, as it is credited with helping in building the online culture surrounding television recaps. 

Following her success at the A.V. Club, Vanderwerff moved on to become culture editor at Vox in 2014. At Vox, she was designated the title Critic at large.

She began her time at Vox by running the television history podcast, Vox’s primetime, and the true-crime parody podcast, Arden.

In 2015 Vanderwerff’s review of the Mad Max: Fury Road movie, the announcement of Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and criticism concerning horror films earned her a nomination at the 2015 Online Journalism Awards

Vanderwerff collaborated with critic Zack Handlen to write the book Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to The X-Files, published by TOR Books in 2018.

She made headlines in 2020 following her criticism of her fellow Vox columnist Matthew Yglesias after he signed an open letter in Harper Magazine that called for an end to cancel culture. 

Following journalist Jesse Singal’s tweet about her criticism, Vanderwerff stated that she received death threats

Vanderwerff has transitioned to writing about how visual works can fit better into the larger culture than the usual review criticism, a notable hallmark of her writing career.

She began making the transition after she began her podcast, Arden. 

Emily Vanderwerff Books

  • Monsters of the Week: The Complete Critical Companion to the X-Files (2019)

Emily Vanderwerff Personal Life

In March 2018, Vanderwerff came out as a transgender woman.

In an article for Vox, Vanderwerff revealed the motivations behind her decision to come out as transgender, the struggles of being trans, and the need for marginalized groups such as the treads community to be better recognized and treated. 

Vanderwerff is one of the founding members of the Trans Journalist Association and was integral in helping the association design its style guide resource, which aids other journalists in writing accurately about transgender individuals. 

Emily Vanderwerff changed her name to Emily St. James in January 2022. She, however, prefers the change to take place on a personal level and not entirely professionally.

Emily Vanderwerff Wife

Emily Vanderwerff got married to writer Libby Hill in 2003. The couple married at a very young age and has been married ever since.

In a Twitter post in 2020 marking her marriage anniversary, Vanderwerff revealed how people felt she and her partner were too young to get married and how close they have been to getting divorced, but their love has persevered.

Hill is also a critic and editor. She has published pieces for The Los Angeles Times, indieWire, A.V. Club, and Salon.com, and works with Vanderwerff on the podcast T.V. on the Internet. 

What is Emily VanDerWerff’s Original Name?

Vanderwerff’s original name is Todd Vanderwerff. She changed her name to Emily after coming out as a transgender woman. 

What is Emily Vanderwerff’s Gender? 

Vanderwerff came out as a transgender woman in 2018. In an interview with Rotten Tomato, Vanderwerff revealed that she had identified with women she had watched on television since she was an adolescent.

She disclosed that when she was a teenager, she grew her hair similar to that of Angela (played by Claire Danes) in the American Teen Drama series My So-Called Life.

Vanderwerff also said that Zooey Deschanel in the sitcom New Girl, one of her favorite series, nearly made her come out as transgender in 2013, but the thought was shut down in her brain.  

Fun facts about Emily Vanderwerff (Emily St. James) 

  • Her original name is Todd Vanderwerff. 
  • In January 2022, she changed her last name to St. James 
  • She is married to Libby Hill
  • Vanderwerff hosts the true-crime parody podcast Arden. 
  • The hardest review she has ever worked on is her review on The Handmade Piece. 
  • The 1993 sci-fi series The X-Files is the first series she ever fell in love with. 
  • She disclosed in an interview that she doesn’t have a phone as it makes her life difficult. 

Final Words 

When it comes to television reviews, Emily Vanderwerff has created a reputation for being one of the constructive critics.

She recognizes the intricate workings of plots and scenes and the overall sense of happening in every movie, television program, and series she has reviewed.

Her ability to lift the veil off the faces of her readers and help them fully understand the creative ingenuity and the shortcomings of every program she has dared to review has established her as the best in her discipline.

Daring to conquer more illustrious strides, Emily St. James hopes to achieve even more than she has as she extends the boundaries of her creative writings.

Facts Check

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Our writers and editors strived for accuracy while working on this article. Please contact us if you find something that doesn’t look right.

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