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

 

 

 

 

LA Life: Eww…Puke!

When I moved out to Los Angeles, it was a Friday. Although I didn’t plan it, the timing was perfect, my first full day spent in LA was a Saturday so I had a free day. I could run errands, and I could get together with friends…genius! I started my first morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, waking up at 7AM (my body clock was still on Midwest time). All I had to my name was all of my luggage, which was essentially just 60 lbs of shoes and a few outfits, and a bag of beef jerky.

I decided the early morning was the perfect time to run to the holy grail of essentials, Target, and pick up a few things to start my new life. Originally, I went to Target to find a desk… I left Target with a desk, several candles, a months supply of k-cups and food for the week. Score.

Walking outside I was over the moon excited. It was a sunny 65 degrees, there were bird chirping, I could see the Hollywood sign, I was finally where I’ve always dreamed of being. On the way to Target my phone wouldn’t pick up service so I was left to fend for myself. I didn’t even care. I’m in LA BABY!! It doesn’t get better.

My day continued as I set up my new room, clothes were put away, furniture was rearranged and this girl was ready to take on the California life. I had made plans with a few friends  for later in the evening and I could not have been more excited. I’m talking bursting at the seams, I just won Miss Wisconsin USA excited, plus some!

I began the evening with a friend from Chicago, Ashley, who happened to be spending a few weeks out in LA with her new modeling agency. The world fell in line, placing us both new to a city at the same time. It was such a blessing to have a little sense of home with me out here in la-la-land. Ashley and I are both a part of a Facebook group called “Girls Love Travel” which essentially connects gypsy souls from all over the world to share in their travel adventures and travel advice, it’s amazing. I was introduced to the group by a flight attendant friend, Savanna, from my Altoona HS days. Just days before moving to LA, Savanna tagged me in a post from a woman in the group who was living in LA was looking for a group of ladies to get together with as she was new-ish to town and just hadn’t “Found her people yet”. TALK ABOUT PERFECT TIMING. Ashley and I knew this was the perfect first night adventure and took advantage. We met the lovely group of ladies at this fantastic lounge – PUMP…if you’ve watched Vanderpump Rules, you know the place! We sipped on a martini while making friends with some powerful ladies. All things we love!

We bid adieu to the women of GLT and headed downtown to meet up with an old friend, Tate,  who I met through a gorgeous fellow Miss Wisconsin Teen USA contestant turned worldwide model extraordinaire, Sloan! Tate’s friend from high school, Jas, moved to LA just days before Ashley and I, so we were all getting together to be shown around by an expert. Talk about using connections to make connections, I was feeling so empowered throughout the day, I was working hard to make this new city my home and had surrounded myself with people who feel like family when family is so far away.  Advice break: You seriously never know when or how you will reconnect with someone so be thoughtful in every relationship that near or far, now those people are your people and someday that may matter. More on that coming up in future blogs

The four of us spent a bit of time in Tate’s apartment before heading downstairs to walk the streets of downtown and grab a bite to eat. Immediately when we got downstairs, I started to feel blah. I assumed it was from the lack of sleep I had gotten over the past week combined with the busy day I had prior to us meeting up, but shook it off! I’m in LA for the first night, there is no time for sickness, not today! We got to this great Chinese restaurant and I ordered a basic, teriyaki chicken. Before the food even arrived, I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it..what is going on?!? We wrapped up at dinner, I left my meal practically untouched, anyone who knows me knows that is so uncommon and slightly alarming. The crew was hoping to head out dancing and we headed upstairs to hangout before going to bust a move. As we arrived up to the apartment, I knew I couldn’t stay. I was disappointed that this queasy feeling was going to ruin my first night in the city, but I knew that there would be many Saturday’s to come and I needed to get home. Ashley and I ordered and Lyft and we were off.

From downtown to my apartment was about 25 minutes, I was sending positive vibes my own way, just a hop-skip-and-a-jump and I’d be in the comfort of my own room in my own bed. It was not 3 seconds into this thought that I was leaning out the window of this Lyft on the 101…puking…yuck! As it happened, many thoughts ran through my head. 1. Eww, this is horrifying. 2. What a memorable first day in Los Angeles. 3. Aren’t California people mean? OMG this Lyft driver is going to give us a terrible review and charge us some outlandish amount for cleaning. To my pleasant surprise, the Lyft driver was super cool and understanding to the unfortunate situation. We were able to get him money for a carwash and I was able to get home with no other casualties.

This moment was a great lesson for me. Sometimes when all you want is to celebrate monumental life moments, you end up vomiting out a car window on the highway…but really, you can’t control your life but you can embrace it, be thankful and find the humor in YOUR life. This could’ve been a terrible start to my new adventure, but instead it was a great story and a fantastic reminder of what matters. I am grateful for good friends who make sure you get home safe, even after they have to watch you throw up. I am grateful for kind people who make a new city seem less scary. I am grateful for going out and chasing my dream, even if the start of the journey went differently than I’d hoped.

And to that Lyft driver, when I land my first movie deal, I promise you endless car washes…

Dream Big,

Sky