Emmanuelle Grey Rossum was born in New York City, where she was raised by her single mother, Cheryl Rossum, a corporate photographer (she has only met her father a few times). Her mother is of Russian Jewish descent and her father has English and Dutch ancestry. After passing an audition at the Metropolitan Opera when she was 7 years old, Rossum performed in more than 20 operas in six different languages at Lincoln Center, alongside such figures as Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.
Emmy was directed by Franco Zeffirelli in “Carmen.” She left the opera when she entered her teenage years, as she had grown too tall to perform as a child. Emmy also appeared in a Carnegie Hall presentation of “The Damnation of Faust.” She graduated from the Spence School, a private institution in Manhattan, in 1996 and then earned a high school diploma when 15 years old by taking online extension courses offered by Stanford University (Education Program for Gifted Youth). She later enrolled at Columbia University and studied art history and French.