I had been modeling and acting since I was 5 years old. I had been with the same agency in Portland, Oregon for about 8 years, and had appeared in numerous publications, ads, magazines, television commercials. I had my own checking account by the age of 12, and saw billboards with my face on them as I was being driven to junior high dances. But I was a ”big fish in a small pond.” I was ready for the big time, and wanted to make it in Hollywood.
I moved to Hollywood at the age of 16 and plunged headfirst into the task of becoming an “it” girl. Although I was still in high school, I partied with well-known actors, had an all-access pass to the hottest clubs, and mingled with the see-and-be-seen celebrities. But because I was young and naïve, I neglected the most basic things that actually would help me achieve my goal of fame: getting a headshot and a resume, taking advanced acting classes, making sure I got enough sleep at night.
I signed with a small agency and began modeling to pay the bills while making my way through the cutthroat industry that is the devil’s playground. Meanwhile, I witnessed many people compromise their dignity to be accepted amongst the superficial Hollywood standards. From up close, I saw the ‘famous’ people ruining their lives with drugs and excessive partying. I even knew some who sadly died as a result of their extreme lifestyles.
The glamour, glitz and the lights had a dark side that terrified me. Although I was running around with the cool kids and living the life of a starlet, I was still a small town girl in my heart. Not only that, but something never felt quite right when it came time to actually audition. Each time a camera was focused on me, I didn’t feel prepared enough, pretty enough, or completely ready to be scrutinized by the people who make it all “happen”.
I now believe that the fear that prevented me from achieving Hollywood stardom was actually God’s way of protecting me from an industry that chews up and destroys young women like me. But at the time, I was just heartbroken.
At 23, I fell into a deep depression. I felt helpless and foolish that had I allowed myself to get into this position. With no college degree and no alternate plan for my life, I knew I had made a huge mistake. I didn’t know where to go.
I turned to every self-help book available: The Law of Attraction, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, all the Anthony Robbins books – but nothing helped me.
Then everything changed.
Every single night I would look up into the stars and pray for a miracle. I completely gave my life to God. I asked for guidance to lift me out of the horrible situation I was in. I saw what “making it” did to others in this industry and knew I didn’t want that for my life. It was at that point that I realized my great truth:
Everything I went through – all I experienced in that dark city – was for a bigger purpose.
I now see the kind of hold that Hollywood’s harmful message had on me since the time I was a young girl. This influence led me to make decisionsin my late teens that I now regret. I now see thatthe body truly is a temple and young girls and women for instance shouldn’t have sex so easily. Girls often look to sex to feel loved but in the hands of the wrong guy it can destroy self-esteem.
It was Hollywood that made me want to be an actress. I was so infatuated with the fame game – it all looked so glamorous – but in the end it was quite the opposite. I’m not saying everyone in Hollywood is bad. In fact, the Hollywood experience helped me to look at what I really wanted for myself. My mistakes were part of my journey and my value system has completely changed as a result of it. I found Christianity and it turned my life around.
My bigger purpose is this: I want to help other young women avoid some of the same mistakes I’ve made.
Using my experience as a platform, I’d like to be a voice that’s out there to help others – especially young women – be their best selves. By questioning cultural norms, exposing the truth of media exploitation and finding and sharing inspiration from scripture and my own life, I can show those who seek it what it means to be a person of value and confidence.
Christianity needs to be redefined for young girls. There is a certain stereotype of how a Christian girl should look, dress and act. I want to show young women that you can be a good Christian and still embrace many parts of the popular culture.
God listened to my prayers. His power helped deliver me through the depression I was in, financially and spiritually. Every single thing I am now blessed with – material and emotional – is because God knew that once I received these great blessings, I would give myself over to Him and in turn show others the power of God to make anything happen. I just hope through my story – and through God’s will – that I can inspire you to lead a more meaningful life.