Photography by Melissa Gidney
Describe yourself in under 100 words :
Gah. Umm…Loyal, strong, smart, undereducated, funny, hardworking, lazy, kind, solitary, wise, redhead…
Okay…I can do better than that…
I’ve spent the last 12 years working my ass off to establish a career as an actor. This has been at the expense of love….consequently I find myself childfree and on my own at 40. My heart explodes with joy at the thought of my dog and companion, Gaffer. He’s taught me how to love and has tenderizes me in a way I never imagined. I also revel in spectacular relationships with my friends…I am surrounded by an abundance of joyful and living friendships.
Beauty can be defined in so many ways. What is your definition of ‘beautiful’?
A warmth inside, brightening of the eyes, something that I truly take in…that’s what beautiful feels like to me.
When do you feel most beautiful?
Right after stepping out of the shower….with my hair dripping wet and moisturizer freshly applied to my face.
What part of aging scares you the most?
Growing old alone.
What part of aging is the most exciting?
I turned 40 in June and I now find myself starting sentences with “now that I’m 40…” a lot.
On average how much do you spend each month on cosmetic items such as make-up, hair cuts/colouring, waxing, clothing, nails, tanning, creams etc.
Have you ever struggled with confidence, body image or insecurities in your life?
I’m a shapely, full figured woman. I’ve been that way most of my life. That I chose a profession often equated with physical perfection is both a blessing and a curse. The demands put on women (and men) to look a certain way are not subtle. I have, on several occasions, been told that the only reason I didn’t book a particular job was my weight. That’s hard. Now, at 5’9’’ and 165 lbs, I’m currently neither my smallest or my biggest…but I am pretty darn close to average. The blessing, is that I’m in a position to change this legacy for someone else. Having worked incredibly hard and achieved a certain level of success, my hope is to be part of shifting both the expectation and the standard of what is considered a leading lady.
Have you ever had cosmetic surgery or treatments?
I have not. I try not to judge people who have. However, I do feel that cosmetic procedures contribute to shifting our standard of beauty in the wrong direction. If you’re the only one in a group of 5 who has not had botox or fillers, you naturally look more “flawed” by comparison. Quite frankly, my peers in the film business do themselves a disservice, as preserving their wrinkle free faces is often at the expense of being able to tell a story with their expressions…..and after all, we’re storytellers.
Let’s talk Photoshop. What are your thoughts on this cultural phenomenon? Yay or nay? Or is there a place for it sometimes?
I am not a fan. It’s a lie. Many actors now have headshots of themselves that look like avatars. The reason Melissa Gidney & I became friends was that I was looking for someone to shoot me with the specific mandate of no retouching. I find many photographers no longer have the skills to shoot an actor without leaning on editing the shots in post. Melissa was the opposite…all about light and nature.
How do we ensure that the next generation of girls grows up with confidence and a strong sense of self when they receive so many messages telling them that they are not enough?
By talking about it, by showing them, by having the courage to embrace our own natural selves as beautiful. By owning our age, so that statements like “you don’t look 40” are abandoned. This is what 40 looks like. Stop trying to shame each other’s age by making it a bad thing. Same goes for body. I will never, NEVER comment on someone’s weight loss in a congratulatory manner. It undermines worth and reinforces that our value is directly related to the way we look in other people’s eyes.
Right before your shoot your mom had a bit of a health scare. Last week I lost a friend who was only 33. Illness and death is tragic and scary yet inevitable and sometimes when we are forced to sit in it’s presence it reminds us to check in with how we want to live our own lives. Is there anything in your life you would change if you could?
I’m starting the screenplays now. Enough thinking and talking about projects. It’s time to execute.
I’m also struggling a bit with influencing my Mom to get some things going….it’s a fine balance between empowering her and pushing her…she doesn’t respond well to being ‘pushed.’
When you were 5 what did you want to be when you were older?
Normal. My mama & papa were both gypsy-like when I was a child. I remember craving stability, a nuclear family with a mom & a dad & a brother or a sister…I suppose I wanted to feel like I belonged somewhere. That’s a theme that has followed me into adulthood….a desire to belong.
When I say “beautiful” you say…
My mama. And my Gaffer….he’s my heart.
Connect with Chelah:
Twitter Handle/ @chelahhorsdal