Kirsten Stiff Walker, 33, was on reality shows like American Princess and Bridezillas. That ended. Then came real reality. She talked recently at her home in Dunedin.
Michael Kruse, Times staff writer
My first professional theater show as an adult, adult being 16, was in Orlando. It just grew from there.
I worked hard learning how to sing and dance.
Theater to reality TV? My girlfriend said, "Hey, Kirsten, there's a funny audition in Orlando. Aren't you close to there?" I went as a joke.
This girl was walking out, really angry, she'd been there since 8 in the morning and it was like 2, and she said, "You look like you went to college, you look intelligent, but if you want to get this job go in there and act really stupid."
I pulled out the thickest, craziest accent you could possibly have, this crazy, Southern accent.
I did not let my character go once.
I got to be someone completely different for a while. But I looked like an idiot. I didn't really think that through.
My parents didn't think it could get any worse than me being on a show like American Princess. But it did.
I started making some bad decisions. By doing shows like Bridezillas. By doing some Court TV shows that were not even close to true.
You can be one thing on TV and very well be something else off camera, and people don't seem to understand that.
They think they know you. I was in Jo-Ann Fabric, and I was being followed around by this lady, and she was like, "So how are you?" I thought she knew me. I felt bad because I didn't recognize her. Eventually, she's like, "I'm just so glad to finally meet you."
There were people who found our house.
I dyed my hair so I wouldn't be recognized. Dyed it black.
I was raised in the Catholic church. That's where I started singing. It was like: I need to go back to church.
I lost pregnancies. I lost a baby in the second trimester. How many miscarriages? Seven.
Everything has gone from being about me or about Seth in our little tiny world and our dog and everything becomes about your child. Nothing matters anymore except for her. I mean, I can't lose the weight, and now I have a thyroid problem, and at first I cared about that. But then I look at her.
Karsen Stella changed my life.
She's had some trouble. We had a really hard labor, 28 hours of labor, and then an emergency C-section. My baby, the nurses later told me, they didn't think they were going to get to hand her to me. They thought she was going to be dead.
The only thing she can't do is weight-bear on her arms. So we're in therapy three days a week. She stands, she takes steps, but she can't catch herself. They haven't given a name for this problem. It's just a delay. Hopefully she'll outgrow it.
I call her my perfect little human.
I've been working with Our Lady of Lourdes school and Catholic church. It's just been amazing. I directed their show choir. We won best young performance in Dunedin. Fun stuff. I'm also the drama teacher there. I love it. Some of these kids didn't know they could dance.
Wisdom is an occasional feature about an ordinary person with unusual insight. Know somebody like that? Contact Michael Kruse at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8751.