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Recovering Model


Recovering ModelBefore I ever picked up a mic or learned about “the game”, “callbacks” or “the rule of three” (just used it there, didn’t I) I was taught how to make my waist smaller. Saran wrap, starvation, and laxatives. All glamour, baby. I specifically remember my runway coach telling me to look sexier when I walked, to which I replied, “I’m still teething.” I was eleven and already making fun of this.

I made a whole career out of being photoshopped and hungry. I mastered the “bitch” face and walked in heels so high they made my nose bleed. Don’t misunderstand, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities that modeling provided. I got to travel the world, learn another language, and meet crazy talented people, but I can honestly say that I was really excited about putting all that to the side and working on my jokes.

One of my first assignments in an improv class was to pick a family member and walk around like them. This was a lot of fun. I picked my Aunt Ginger and went wild with her hand gestures and facial expressions. She has this really intense look when she’s worried, so I milked that the whole exercise. Within seconds, I made her look and sound like a complete lunatic. It was pretty funny and specific (if I do say so myself) but afterward, I felt dirty. She’s my favorite relative and here I am making fun of her. How gross was I?

The richest comedy comes from truth, so of course it’s natural to draw from your life. But anytime I was tempted to pull from people I knew and loved, I was resistant from guilt. Until one random, glorious day…

An improv assignment suggested making a list of all the crazy, interesting people we knew. After looking at my list I couldn’t help but wonder, “How would they feel about this?” Then, I had an even more frightening thought: “How do they see me (cue cartoon light bulb)?”

I jumped up and performed a sketch character of myself, and boy, did I pull out the crazy. I made fun of my little quirks, over exaggerated my big eyes, and quoted every self-help book I’ve ever read (I’m a closet self-helper). I was an ADD, needy, loser, with crazy eyes who was terrified of being late. While I felt extremely exposed it was a massive relief to see the humor in my insecurities and flaws. Alas, I was free! Today, I’m not only able to dish it (privately) but I can totally take it! It’s like roasting yourself. The best person to roast us, is, well… us.

I recently launched a web series called “Recovering Model” which digs at certain aspects of my life. As an actress/model, I’m quickly sliding out of the “hot chick” category into that “mom that sells dish washers” bracket. And while I’ll take any paycheck, it’s not only a bump to the ego, but can be a total identity crisis! Certain thoughts might have entered my brain: “Who am I? Time to have babies? Should I lie back and crochet my pretend husband another scarf?!”

Everything was a lot simpler when I shopped in the children’s department and thought NPR was a cool new restaurant. I tried to ignore this stage of life, then found that incredibly boring. So here’s a little unconventional self-help advice from someone with no credentials: Make fun of yourself! We are hilarious.

Shelley Dennis









– Shelley


About Shelley Dennis

From the farm to the catwalk, Shelley Dennis’ experiences have provided her with the ability to create multifaceted characters with unique points of view. Shelley grew up in small town Oklahoma, population: 700. She quickly fell in love with theatre and bringing compelling characters to life. As early as elementary school she was writing her own plays. When her third grade class was “good,” the teacher allowed Shelley to grace the class with her performance. She took a brief time-out when she was scouted by a modeling agency and flown halfway across the world to Milan, where she made a living for two years by being tall and hungry. Now, as a RECOVERING MODEL, Shelley has rehabilitated herself on the improv stage at Groundlings and UCB, as well as performed standup all over the country. She has written for Disney and toured alongside Wayne Brady, doing both standup and improv.