By Courtney Rae Kasper
She’s graced the cover of Newsweek, posed twice for Vogue Italia and Martha Stewart Living, interviewed Kurt Warner in the Sports Illustrated office as an SI Kid Reporter, danced in a Barbie commercial, hung out on set with CNN’s HLN anchor Robin Meade and later this summer you can find her starring in the new YouTube series, “My SUPER Secret Life.” She’s Madison County’s Joely Live, and she’s working hard to become America’s next iGeneration heartthrob.
Joely, who turned 13 in January, is seated on her living room floor, Indian style—dressed in tapered jean shorts, a cream crochet tank and a sparkly necklace—chatting about her impressive resume of national work that includes modeling for Target, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Toys ‘R’ Us, The Children’s Place, Burlington Coat Factory and Tommy Hilfiger, to name a few. But what makes this teenage dream’s piercing blue eyes wide with excitement, like a kid in a candy store, is the mention of her upcoming YouTube pilot, “My SUPER Secret Life.”
“It’s about how, like, this teacher has super powers and me and the other character, Sophia, a sixth-grader, I’m Evelyn, a seventh-grader, have to protect the last goodness in the universe. We’re just regular school girls and she passes on her powers to us and we turn into super heroes, but our school and classmates don’t know it,” Joely said, all smiles.
The 5-foot-4 leggy blonde and her costar, who is her real best friend off screen, developed the idea for the show and, last June, approached the Upstate Productions crew about writing and directing it. The girls must spend their free weekend time filming, but it has been an eye-opening experience for the aspiring actress. “I’m pretty good at memorizing lines; we’ve had the script for awhile and will get crew calls that tell us what scenes we’re doing the day before. I had no idea that’s how the process worked. I think this show will be good. I’m really excited and hope it goes bigger. I want to work my way up to movies,” Joely said, tucking a wavy lock behind her ear.
Signed at age 5 with New York City’s Generation Model Management (owner Patti Fleischer is a Syracuse University graduate), Joely was immediately trekking to the Big Apple for weekly go-sees (that’s model talk for an agency-made appointment to audition for print or commercial work). A go-see, according to Joely, sounds much like a typical job interview, minus the jumping, skipping, dancing or singing on command. You sign in (she always pens her moniker in pink), hand over your comp card (a business card that lists basic stats and showcases your best portfolio work) and wait in a room of maybe 300, 50, two other kids or just you before being called in to show the casting director your non camera-shy personality.
“I tried out for Werther’s candy once and I had to pretend I was sucking on a candy, or the Corning Museum of Glass commercial I had to say lines and they’d tell me what to do, like look at your mom and have a mysterious look. You have to know those looks,” she said, adding that she practices by using a facial expression chart.
When asked what it’s like to be the one on the random city side street, amongst the film crew trucks, flashing camera lights and makeup trailers, glowing, she said, “I think it’s awesome. When you’re there you feel, I don’t want to say feel special, but you do. You’ve tried so hard to get a call back and can be on hold for three months or even a year and you are the one who’s going to have the spotlight now because you worked for it.” Sure she’s pretty without any makeup on, but getting all glammed-up is what Joely finds most exciting. (In fact, she didn’t realize she got paid for modeling until age 11, when her parents told her the money is all in a college fund.) “I love getting my makeup done and hair and feeling all special. It’s really cool trying on and wearing the clothes, like when we do fun shoots on location,” she said, referring to her (gasp) Vogue Italia skateboarding and cheerleading shoot near NYC’s Chelsea Piers.
Though the road to success isn’t always cookie dough wishes and bubblegum dreams. It’s tough work and can require leaving at 4 a.m. to book it to the city for auditions, freshening up in Dunkin’ Donut bathrooms, long hours (the first Martha Stewart Living booking took three hours just to photograph her hands), living in New Jersey in the summer and often not hearing the desired, “yes, you got the job!” “It’s really frustrating. I’ve heard no-no-no-no-no so many times that you get used to it, but I keep telling myself don’t give up; it’s hard,” Joely said, recalling a Juicy Couture go-see where she was told on the spot that she was too big for the clothing.
But Joely is aware that this is all part of the business, and her drive to make it keeps her focused, even if that means saying goodbye to New York State one day. “I’ve always wanted to live in L.A.,” she said. “It’s scary thinking about leaving school and friends. But I guess moving isn’t the end of the world if it’s doing what I love then I’m going to have to make sacrifices. I want to be famous. I want to be really humble, but I want people to be wanting me, like, ‘Joely Live, OMG, that’s Joely Live, she’s walking down the street, that’s her, OMG!’”
Off camera, Joely is a normal high schooler who keeps it everyday-girl real. She loves to jet ski, ride four wheelers, rock out with her 17-year-old sister, Jordan, gaze at the cows up the street from her lake house and play sports. And if a full time acting career doesn’t pan out, this little athlete has another on-camera plan. “I want to be like Robin Meade; like Robin but on ESPN,” Joely said. Yep, that’s right, she wants to be a sports reporter and with the help of former New York Giants offensive lineman Rich Seubert, who became close with the family after renting one of their lake cottages, she got a taste of what that life would be like. She spent last year acting as a Sports Illustrated Kid Reporter, a job she landed (out of 2,000 applicants) by submitting a behind-the-scenes look at the Giants’ training camp, and got to cover cool events like meeting President Obama, touring CNN’s HLN Atlanta headquarters, Syracuse Monster Jam and even got to try on Shaquille O’Neal’s size 20 sneaker.
Her advice for other teens who want to follow their dreams? “Do your jobs and be humble about it, but have confidence, too,” Joely said, with gusto. “You got what it takes. Practice a lot, and work on good techniques. Life’s too short, if you want to do something, go, it’s not like it’s ever too late. You only live once. I still have people telling me, ‘don’t give up, you got this, you’re on your way,’ and I’m still not there. Dedicate your time to it and just do it.”
Yeah, we’re pretty sure she’ll have the world wrapped around her candy-coated finger in no time. Stay tuned.