Photographer: Christopher Patey
Q: BELLA’s tagline is Beauty as defined by you. Can you share with our readers how you define beauty?
Beauty is self-love shining through you. You are beautifully and wonderfully made, that includes what makes you different and unique, and you do not need validation from anyone but yourself! Tell yourself in the mirror every morning. For example: I love my pale skin, countless freckles, and one foot that’s bigger than the other! 🙂
Q: What made you decide to be an actress?
When I was 10 years old, my parents recognized my growing interest in the arts, as the list of lessons I wanted to take steadily began to grow. Piano lessons, dance lessons, voice lessons… My wonderful mother took me to an audition for a community theatre production of Annie Warbucks (the sequel to the hit musical Annie) where I booked a small supporting role as well as the understudy of Annie. I fell in love with the whole process and even got to play Annie for a couple performances. I was absolutely thrilled. I was bit by the acting bug and never looked back!
Q: What role have you played, that you can identify with the most?
I haven’t booked that role yet! While I can always find something relatable about almost any character (because we’re all human!), they’re usually quite the opposite of me!
Q: Can you tell me about your role as Dylan on The Secret Life of the American Teenager?
Dylan is an absolute blast to play! She is the complete opposite of how I was in high school but that’s what makes her so fun. From a first glance, she’s naive, manipulative, and indecisive but I think these qualities are all a product of her young age and a lack of guidance, not an excuse, but it helps to understand her. We’ve all encountered one or more Dylan’s in our life. It doesn’t matter how many times someone may warn us of making bad decisions, most of the time we have to experience them to truly learn for ourselves what is best. I hope that she learns and grows from her mistakes, but that’s really not up to me, that’s something the writers will decide!
Q: After growing up in Illinois, life must be so different for you now. What’s the biggest change in your life and what has remained the same?
I grew up a small-town girl, first in a small farming community and later an old lazy river town. I was always surrounded by family and friends I’d known for a long, long time. When I moved to Los Angeles, I only knew one or two people. It was a huge adjustment but I was raised to embrace change and to face challenges head-on and so I did just that! It took a couple years but I now have an amazing little LA family that I love very much. The one thing that hasn’t changed are my morals and values, they are a huge part of who I am and how I was raised. It can be tough in such a huge and sparkling city like Los Angeles to forget who you are and where you come from, but hanging onto them has been the best decision I have ever made.
Q: Do you feel pressure to be a “role model” for the younger generation? What does being a role model mean to you?
Yes, of course! Being in the spotlight comes with the career I am pursuing and with that also comes a great responsibility. One of my dear friends recently shared a quote with me from Dr.Seuss that I think is pretty spot-on for summing up the responsibility of being a role model, it says, “Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” I try my very hardest to do just that everyday and to not waste my time on negative actions or feelings. My role models tend to be those who try to find the good in any and every situation. It’s treating others the way you would like to be treated and loving your crooked neighbor with all your crooked heart.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Whether you succeed or whether you fail, always stay true to yourself and be proud of yourself for what you have accomplished.
Q: If you could offer advice to anyone trying to break into the “business” what would it be?
Passion, patience, and perseverance! Surround yourself with people who believe in you, I have an amazing team by my side and I don’t know what I would do without them. Always be working on your craft, taking classes, workshops, and trying new things. Look for a proper agent in the closest metropolitan area near you. Make connections and network, it’s all about who you know sometimes! That being said, don’t use people and don’t burn bridges. Be honest and professional in everything you do. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. Believe in yourself!
Q: Are you involved in any organizations or charities that you would like the BELLA readers to know more about?
Compassion International is a child sponsorship ministry that I have been involved with for almost 4 years now. For $38 a month you can sponsor a child from one of twenty six countries in which it currently operates. This money provides food, clothing, medical checkups, spiritual studies, and proper education. Upon sponsorship you receive a photo of the child as well as information on their hobbies, work, family, favorite things, and statistics of their community and country. The most wonderful part about this program is the one-on-one relationship you build with this child. I sponsor two children, one from Africa and one from India, and have exchanged countless letters with each. We talk about everything from their favorite foods to family situations to school studies. One of the kids I sponsor loves to draw, he’s a little artist and it’s amazing to watch his improvement from the beginning to now. We are always encouraging and praying for each other. They are such blessings in my life and I plan on finally visiting them in their prospective countries when they graduate from the program! I can hardly wait.