Being involved in outdoor adventures has helped me gain a better perspective on personal aspects of my life and that’s how this blog, and now web series, was started. I’m sharing this little piece of my personal and professional life because it may speak to someone who needs the encouragement, on or off the trail.
I remember the first time I worked with Dana Owens in 2010 on a Cover Girl commercial shoot. It was my second year in LA and I was in the middle of my studies at California State University. Because my course load didn’t allow time for a full-time job, I continued doing background work for income. It was during that time when I came across a casting notice to be a stand-in for an actress in a cosmetics commercial. The notice didn’t specify what commercial it was or who the actress was, but based on the stats of the actress, I had a feeling it was Queen Latifah. People had always told me that I looked like her, but I didn’t believe it. Not because I didn’t quite measure up to her 5’10 height (I’m 5’7,) but because I didn’t feel I measured up to her beauty. After all, she is a Cover Girl model.
I always thought that I was ugly. I was bullied from a very young age because I had buck teeth, because I had long hair, because I talked differently, because I was just different. I grew up hating the way I looked and I hid my smile from everyone. When I was in high school, a classmate stopped what he was doing, looked me right in my face and told me that I was hideously ugly. I did absolutely nothing to provoke him and didn’t understand why he said it, except that it must have been true.
That was it for me. Instead of firing back, I turned the other cheek and walked away. I had been walking away ever since. Away from opportunities to go out into the world and let my light shine. I relegated myself to a lifestyle of fear, timidity and shyness because I didn’t want anyone to see me for what I believed I was, hideously ugly. Yet for some reason, I decided to submit my “ugly” headshot to be considered for this cosmetics gig. If they didn’t like my submission, I wouldn’t hear anything back. That’s how Hollywood operates. I had nothing to lose, not even self-esteem because I didn’t have much of it to begin with.
To my surprise, I did get a callback from the casting agency. However, they wanted to see a different picture. Not another professional headshot where all the hideously ugliness of my face was covered up by the skillful application of makeup and touch-ups by the photographer. They wanted a “selfie,” a real-time picture of what I looked like at that moment. The moment where I had that just showered, washed and blow-dried, non-styled hair look and NO makeup on. I would have NEVER sent a selfie to anyone looking like that, let alone a casting agency. I just knew that if they saw what I looked like in that moment, what I really looked like, they would never call me back.
Preparing for a huge disappointment, I snapped the picture and reluctantly sent it. They called back and I booked my first gig with Queen Latifah. That led to other Cover Girl gigs, a TV show and a two-year stint on her daytime talk show. The future is on the horizon and the best days are yet to come. I shared this story because somebody needs to hear it. These pictures, along with everything I’ve been blessed to do over the past few years, is proof that God makes everything beautiful in its time.