Are you like me? Once you realize that someone was a serious skater growing up, do you look at them a little differently? I know I do. Maybe because I understand and appreciate how difficult the sport is and that it's a great achievement to make it to nationals. I know, I know, it's wrong to elevate someone just because they got their gold medals in figures and freestyle, but ANYWAY...In the April 2008 issue of SKATING magazine, two television personalities are profiled (articles not available online) and they both were very accomplished skaters growing up.
The first is Julie Benz (see right), whose most recent television and movie work was starring in Showtime's Dexter as Rita Bennett (Dexter's girlfriend) and in Rambo IV with Sylvester Stallone. Julie has also appeared in numerous television shows and movies, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, CSI, Law & Order, and As Good As It Gets. Julie competed as a junior ice dancer in the 1988 U.S. Championships and placed 13th with her partner. She grew up with a family of skaters - her older siblings were 1987 U.S. junior ice dancing champions and competed at the 1986 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Sarajevo. But Julie had two passions growing up, skating and acting. And in high school, acting took over more of her life and she decided to pursue it full time and has never looked back. Today, Julie has a personal trainer who she works out with four times a week, does yoga, Pilates, some ballet, even some snowboarding, but she does not skate(!) She explains that
When I left the sport, I left the sport...Honestly, I don't miss skating. The pressure of competition was very tough on me. When I audition or I am doing a tough scene, I remind myself that at least I am not trying a triple toe loop. The stress of landing a jump was painful to me. The process of getting a role in Hollywood is difficult, like having to do screen tests and reading with a big actor like Stallone, but it's better than competing.
Rebecca Staed was the reporter for the piece and I found the article very interesting and insightful. Thanks Rebecca - I'll be TiVo'ing Dexter now and will rent Rambo IV on dvd!
The second profile was equally interesting to me. Written by Lois Elfman, the article profiled Kandi Amelon Sawyer (see below), who is the senior supervising producer for the Dr. Phil show. Kandi competed as a junior ice dancer in the 1983 U.S. Championships and won the silver medal with her partner. They competed at the senior level for two years before she began studying mass communications at the University of California, Los Angeles. Unlike Julie, Kandi continued to be involved with skating after "retiring" from competitions, as she became a skating coach to pay for college. Kandi has worked on The Tonight Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show, among others. She relocated to Los Angeles to work for Dr. Phil after he got his own show. At a Dr. Phil wrap up party, she put on a brown wig to resemble Dr. Phil's wife, Robin, and an ice dancer put on a bald cap, and they skated a Phil and Robin duet. Kandi believes that skating laid the foundation for her work in television production. "The skills of putting together a show or competitive routine and the hard work of obtaining a goal were things I trained in from an early age. The life of a competitive figure skater helped prepare me to be a producer and supervisor, and helped launch and run one of the top syndicated shows in the world."