When I first made the big move to Los Angeles, I was 17 years old. To be perfectly honest with you, to make it in LA, you have to start way earlier. I’ve seen parents move their kids to LA as early as 2 years old to pursue some unfounded dream of being a super star.
I can say that now that I’ve been around the block, but back then I thought I’d be able to make it there. I wanted to be a movie star, too, just like many of these parents dreamed their kids would be. In my small South Carolina hometown, I was kind of a big deal. I was homecoming queen my sophomore and junior years of high school, and modeled locally for years. I competed in, and regularly won, pageants until I quit to focus on my modelling when I was fourteen years old.
After just a couple of months in the city, I began to realize it wasn’t going to happen for me. I wasn’t going to be someone who tried their whole life to make it in Hollywood, because I just knew, acting wasn’t for me. It didn’t come naturally, I wasn’t having fun at auditions, and I hated having my body analyzed like an object at every casting call.
I was just starting to figure all of this out when the accident happened. They happen all the time, ya know . . . accidents, I mean. My LA auto accident should have been no different. A little fender bender, maybe some whiplash, and I should have been fine.
But I wasn’t fine.
I was sideswiped and ended up smashing head-on into a guardrail. Something must have happened in the engine, because my car went up in flames with me in it. I honestly can’t even believe I’m alive today. Someone must have pulled me out of the car, but we never found out who it was.
I suffered third-degree burns across 90 percent of my body. The scarring was, and often still is, overwhelming to look at. But, I’m alive. Since the accident, it has been very confusing because I knew there was no way I’d be a successful actress at this point, but I didn’t want to go back home to South Carolina either.
It took a little bit of time, and I had to work really hard to become comfortable with this new body I was in. My self-consciousness led me to find creative ways to feel better about how I looked, and that’s how I became a very successful fashion designer and makeup mogul in Los Angeles.
If it wasn’t for the accident, I wouldn’t be able to help other women who struggle with body positivity, and for this reason, I consider my experience to be a blessing in disguise.