LA Life: Grow Up, Glow Up and Show Up

Year one in Los Angeles down, some of it has gone better than anticipated and some of it has not.  Some has surprised me and some has down right shocked me. The learning curve was a bit more curvy than I expected and as I reflect, the good really does outweigh the bad. On the personal side, I have enough stories to write one heck of a novel, but I’ve learned those stories are best left untold, for now. I’ve really scaled back from sharing that piece of me.  So here are some things I have learned as a new actor in the craziest city in the world.

Los Angeles is fun, I mean really, really fun. Rooftop pools, late night parties, mansions, celebrities, red carpets, launch events…all those visions you have of what life is like in Hollywood are pretty true. (Did I tell you about the time I stumbled across Taylor Swift’s private party at a club? I got kicked out by security but not before squealing,
THAT’S TAYLOR SWIFT!!) There is something happening every night, around every corner.  I have had some amazing experiences and met some amazing people.  Sounds exciting and glamorous, right? Well, kind of and for a while. But it’s also a trap. Successful actors aren’t out partying until 6 a.m. because if they are working that’s about their call time to be on set. They aren’t spending $600 on bottle service at a club because that’s about the cost of an acting class. I really enjoyed my first year here and really loved all the fun and wild things that can only happen in this place, but I also realized to make this work I had to GROW UP. Does that mean I’m not going out or doing what 22 year olds do? No. But I’ve really learned the value of maintaining purpose and focus.  Endless summer has to end. I see the trap and I acknowledge the trap. I realize that if my only goal was to be an influencer that gets invited to the best parties and is offered free stuff, Los Angeles is also a good spot for that, but it’s not why I am here and it is not my goal. (Actually I could do a whole blog about influencers and what I have learned out here, it is intriguing and unbelievable! But that is for another day)  The next time I run into Taylor Swift at a party I want it to be at the Golden Globes or SAG Awards and the only way that will happen is if I buckle down and work.

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A day of summer fun at the BROAD in DTLA. An accurate sign describe my new home

 

Some part of me imagined that giving up modeling and retiring from pageantry would allow me to give up some of the strict exercise and dietary restrictions because actors come in all shapes and sizes. It wasn’t an excuse to let myself go, but it was an excuse to not work so hard at it. I also knew my aim wasn’t to be manufactured perfection, I don’t have the money for all the extras I knew existed on the LA landscape.  I was prepared that I might not look like the standard of beauty in this particular place. And I am confident in my own version of beautiful to be OK with all of that. What I wasn’t prepared for is how often I would have the opportunity to audition or go to castings that would require me to invest a great deal of time or energy into myself and my appearance. One of the biggest money auditions I have had was for nothing more than my butt, yep butt only. It was for a network shows intro, think in the vein of True Blood or American Horror Story. You know the quick flash images of snakes, blood, beetles and butts. My butt could have been that butt.  BUT…..when my butt didn’t land the job, the reality hit that the gym, chicken breasts and spinach needed to make a come back in my new life. The whole body image thing is an issue out here, because I actually love my softer and curvier post Miss USA body, so I’m working on a happy medium. Because let me tell you the payday on a butt in a split second that airs every week is much larger than you could ever guess. I have to invest in hair, skin and make-up. All those things I was ready to leave behind actually are more important than ever before. So the great GLOW UP of 2020 is underway and when my butt finally makes it, you all will know. Because my family is the kind of family that will hold a party every week to watch the split second intro and cheer, “There’s her butt!” I’m lucky that way.

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New digitals for my modeling agency, bring on 2020!

Finally, to SHOW UP! Here is the deal, this is the most basic rule of professional life or so I thought. Be where you are suppose to be, when you are suppose to be there and do your job. It is Work Life 101, but in a land of 20-somethings, Cristal, clubs and endless traffic you would be shocked at how many times people simply don’t show up. On set, for auditions, interviews, photo shoots….and it’s not just the actors sometimes it’s the crew or the casting agent. This one blew my mind. The reality of the traffic here is true, just like the parties the traffic never dies. So occasionally you get stuck. I leave almost two hours early to make sure I arrive on time to auditions and jobs. Even if that means spending an hour finding a coffee shop and wasting time. When I’m working, I’m working. You won’t be able to reach my via text and I won’t answer your FaceTime. I won’t be scrolling through insta or snapchatting.  Believe it or not this rather logical philosophy seems to set me apart from the masses. A photographer recently told me my “Midwest work ethic was showing”.  Maybe all those stereotypes are true but I’m the kind of actor who will always show up, prepared and ready to roll.  I have no track record to prove it yet but if I find success this will be the key and I’m just going to keep doing it.  If I get the job or even just the audition, I will be showing up and be completely present in my work.

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A still from a recent self-tape, and accurate representation of me in LA traffic

There it is year one lessons in three easy to remember steps.

1)Grow Up

2)Glow Up

3)Show Up

And the biggest lesson I have learned to date. NEVER  STOP LEARNING AND DON’T GIVE UP. I have so far to go here it is crazy. It is a game of growth, persistence and mental fortitude. Just when you think you ‘know better’ you will be run over with the Mac Truck of reality, the second you stop investing in educating yourself you will fall behind, the time you miss the audition because you just can’t take another NO could have been the break you’ve been seeking.  The minute you stop doing squats your butt will get the opportunity of a lifetime. “Just keep swimming”-Dory

Dream Big,

Skylar

 

 

 

 

Just Life: A Drop

“It’s a drop in the bucket”

This is a phrase that is used in my house more often than not. Whenever I’m worked up about an exam, a boy, a bad haircut, or being in a bikini on national television, my dad always reminds me that each of these moments is just a “drop in the bucket”. A perfect sentiment that each day is simply one drop, you are never adding more than that to what will eventually become a full bucket of ups and downs, and well…a full life that will have been shaped by each and every day that you’ve lived. Leave it to Jeff Witte to turn major meltdowns into really good teaching lessons.

Well today marks one of my favorite drops in my collective bucket, my graduation from college. 1285 days ago, I arrived on the UW-Madison campus sick to my stomach with nerves, and totally clueless what my college years would bring. Little did I know! If you’ve followed my journey you know it’s been a really wild ride.

I began this journey as a poli-sci major, thinking I would go off to law school and that my high school modeling days were simply a really fun and glamorous phase. I ate pulled pork sandwiches from the dining hall like they were going out of style and became OBSESSED with the limited edition Gyro slice from Ian’s. I met and reconnected with some of the most amazing people this world has ever seen. And I learned that nobody really has it figured out, but college is your place to explore and take advantage of any opportunity you can possibly find. Looking back my biggest life philosophy came from my college experience, take the chance, take the leap of faith, jump in. The worst thing that will come out of it is that you learn to build your wings or your net on the way down and I have built plenty the last several years. Sometime I flew and sometimes I fell, but either way I was ready.

Over the next two and a half years I learned many of my greatest lessons, and most of them had nothing to do with Pre-Constitution Law…

I learned to know when to ask for help. This day would never have happened if it wasn’t for the incredible team behind me every step of the way. My family never stopped believing I could “do it all”, even on the days when I thought for sure my head would explode. Whether it was a pep talk, a home cooked meal, a text reminder, or simply a word of encouragement, I always had someone to lean on.

I learned that the most important thing in life is honesty. I remember sitting on the couch, the day after I won Miss Wisconsin USA, only one week into the first semester of my second year of school, and not even knowing where to start. Well I started first with a block of cheese, yum, and then proceeded to email each of my professors and the Dean of Students office saying “this just happened, and I have no idea how I’m going to make this school thing work”. That week I waffled a million times between taking a break from school or just juggling. I wanted to experience all the opportunities being Miss Wisconsin USA would afford me but I wanted to get the most from my college experience. My greatest fear was in trying to accomplish both I would ultimately fail at both and end up disappointed. I remained honest throughout the school year about my stresses, successes, and crazy ass schedule and managed to not only stay in school full time while prepping for Miss USA, but do so while maintaining a respectable GPA and with an entire campus staff cheering me on after taking my final exams two weeks early to “do the thing”! The amount of support I received from the UW-Madison community while I was at Miss USA will forever be one of the highlights of my life. Madison is a big school and people accomplish great things every day there, but for one moment in time, I was the Badger of the moment and I am so proud and so honored to have had that opportunity. It was a ‘golden drop’ if you will or should I say ‘red drop’ in the bucket.

I learned that you can’t do it all. You might have to give up being a double major or making the dean’s list and readjust your goals. For me, graduating became the focus and the perfectionist in me needed to let go of the rest. Flexibility is the key to making any plan work for you. I was great at preaching to middle school students as Miss Wisconsin USA to set a large goal and then smaller goals to get there. Sometimes that means focusing your energy in different ways. Sometimes it means letting go of a lot of other things to make it happen. One thing I am not great at, is saying no. Throughout my college experience I learned that sometimes, simply for your mental sanity, you need to say no.

I learned where my priorities lie. Even if means sleeping on a couch or driving odd hours of the day, you have to make time for the people you love and the people who love you. I also learned that distance isn’t real, I mean it is real of course, but not by meaningful relationship standards. If you are in the same room or a thousand miles away you can still love big and still be present. You can still give support and you can still seek it, regardless of the space between you.

Most importantly, I learned that everyday is a chance to learn, to make mistakes, to take chances. Nothing in life is perfect, nothing in life works out exactly how you thought it would. But if you work hard and trust the process, anything is possible. Bringing back the old saying “The sky really is the limit” I wouldn’t trade these past three and a half years for anything. Thanks to college, “found myself”, or at least was able to work on who I want to be.

I am so happy to say that I am officially one B.A. woman…Bachelor of Arts in Communications that is. So excited to begin the next series of drops….

Dream Big,
Sky

Just Life: Becoming You

There is not much about me you can’t find out by searching my name on Google or reading any of my blog posts. I am an open book. Some people find this perplexing, why would I share so very much of my life, my thoughts and my unsolicited advice. The answer for me is a rather simple one, something that I share will help someone, somewhere, someday.

My journey into modeling, my life goal of becoming Miss Wisconsin USA, heck even my frustration with the dating world have all been unique to me, however in each arena in my life I have gained some useful insights that frankly, I wish I had known when I started down that path. So I share. I do so without hesitation and sometimes without care for perfect grammar or AP style (apologies to every English teacher in my life). My writing for those who know me personally is probably more like a conversation you would have if you sat down and visited with me in person. Informal, candid and with a tone that always, always skews on the positive but not annoyingly sweet. That’s just me.

It wasn’t always me, it took me a long time to get here. When I meet young girls who are just finding themselves and struggling with finding the right friend group, the right team, the right ‘thing’ that they love, the right boy, the right path, even the right style that suits them, I can’t help but think…been there, done that. Add on top of that struggle the pressure of the world that you are somehow doing it all wrong. That pressure can come from your peers, your parents, your teachers, everyone you come across in life will have an opinion on who you should become. They all for the most part will come from a place of love. They will all want what in their minds is best for you. But becoming you is the most personal journey you will ever go on, and no one can determine the desired outcome. Becoming you is the only journey in life you must take solo.

The harshest reality out there is that the only person who can hold you back from achieving your wildest dreams is you! People will try, they will stand  in your way, they will give you a million reasons why you can’t do something, they will question you and they will judge your every move. But in the end those people will only control your destiny if you allow them.

People thought I was crazy for traveling every weekend on a shoestring budget to work with photographers for free, building a modeling portfolio for a career I didn’t have. They wondered why I would skip ‘the social event of the year’ to hit up a casting call a hundred miles away that would only last 5 minutes and likely end without a job! Everyone thought I was crazy, until that portfolio and a single 5 minute call ended in getting me a modeling job that any big agency signed model would die to have.

Even my biggest supporters (mom, calling you out) told me 19 was too young to attempt a run at Miss Wisconsin USA, “wait it out a few years, your time will come.” But I knew I was ready and I knew I was certain of who I was and where I was going. I knew they were right if it wasn’t my time it would be eventually,  but I knew something they didn’t… in the year between the 2015 pageant and 2016 pageant I had become Skylar Witte.  I was so certain of what was in my heart, and I knew that if I could just get that out to a set of judges I had already won. Apparently I did, they knew who I was in under 5 minutes. I showed them my heart!

Becoming you is a confidence that is hard to explain. It is the ability to believe in yourself when no one else does, it is wearing a full-length sequin bodysuit with huge faux leather cape sleeves when everyone else is wearing a cocktail gown. It is knowing who you are so beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one can change that vision; their words, their suggestions and their criticism will fly right off you like those cape sleeves in the wind. I am told that 19 is a young age to get to this place.  I don’t really apologize for that and I hope I never leave it. Becoming you doesn’t mean that you are finished, oh not by a long shot. You will change your life direction, change your goals, change your boyfriend, change your style, all of those things will happen as you continue to evolve as a person and that’s the way it is suppose to be. But once you find your peace, once you embrace that solo journey and learn to love who you are, the rest is all just growth.

My wish for all those I love and have yet to love is that they too can become who they are meant to be. It might not happen in a minute or a year, but it will happen if you allow it.

Dream Big,

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