“Al­ways be grate­ful”

One year ago Chrissy Metz, star of Golden Globes-nom­i­nated se­ries This Is Us, had just 80 cents in the bank. She plans never to for­get where she came from.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Style -

igrew up in Florida, US. My par­ents di­vorced when I was eight; I never re­ally knew my dad, and my mom raised my older sis­ter, brother and me alone. It was chal­leng­ing. There were times I’d be ner­vous walk­ing home from school, think­ing, ‘ I don’t know what I’ll do if that red tag from the power com­pany say­ing our lights are turned off is on the door han­dle’.

And there were nights when my mom wouldn’t eat din­ner. She’d be like, “Oh, I’m not hun­gry.” I knew she was giv­ing up food to make sure we could eat, but when you’re nine or 10, you can’t help. It was dev­as­tat­ing.

In ret­ro­spect, I think that’s why food equals love in my fam­ily. It’s how we showed love – my granny made me a grilled-cheese sand­wich when­ever she picked me up from school. I re­ally val­ued that at­ten­tion. As I got older, that turned into, “Oh, I’m happy – let’s cel­e­brate and eat. I’m sad? Let me eat my feel­ings.”

My mom even­tu­ally re­mar­ried and had two more daugh­ters; she and my step­dad did the best they could. I re­mem­ber when she couldn’t af­ford to buy me Keds sneak­ers, my friend of­fered to glue her lit­tle blue la­bel onto my cheap shoes! I laugh about it now, but it was a big deal to me as a kid.

Com­edy was my out­let. I be­came the class clown, and I grav­i­tated to per­form­ing for at­ten­tion I didn’t al­ways think I was get­ting at home.

Af­ter high school I re­ally wanted to act, but I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t know any­body with con­nec­tions, I didn’t come from money, I didn’t go to a per­form­ing arts school. But I was never afraid of the odds, even though they were stacked against me.

Then my sis­ter – who is skinny, and beau­ti­ful – heard about this open-call model and talent search a five-hour drive from home, and she was like, “Will you take me?” We went, and the woman asked me, “Do you sing or act? Just step in here for a sec­ond.”

I sang Christina Aguil­era’s ‘ Beau­ti­ful’ – Lord knows why I chose that big ol’ thing. The fol­low­ing day she called my sis­ter for a mod­el­ling con­tract and told me she would in­tro­duce me to man­agers and agents in Los An­ge­les.

How’d we get to LA? Some friends and I car­a­vanned from Florida, then lived in a two-bed­room apart­ment, in Cal­i­for­nia. We were all on a bud­get – we spent nights play­ing Uno in our liv­ing room in­stead of go­ing out – but most of the other kids’ par­ents were foot­ing their bills.

My step­dad helped with my car in­sur­ance, but I couldn’t ask for more; they didn’t have any­thing ex­tra. So I paid my way by nan­ny­ing and odd jobs. I had two au­di­tions that sea­son, maybe. I cried a lot.

And then in 2014 Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story came up. I’d wanted the role of Ima ‘ Bar­bara’ Wiggles des­per­ately, and af­ter I got it, I thought, ‘OK, awe­some, this is a jump­ing board for my ca­reer!’ But when it wrapped, there was noth­ing. I al­most moved back to Florida, but my mom said, “You can ei­ther be mis­er­able here and not pur­sue your dreams or you can be mis­er­able in LA and at least pur­sue what you want.” So I stayed.

I kept au­di­tion­ing, with no money, no sav­ings and grow­ing credit card debt. I went on un­em­ploy­ment and lived on noo­dles and moved in with a room­mate who said, “Stay here un­til you can af­ford rent. Don’t give up.”

Peo­ple who sup­ported me were like, “If you don’t have money for food, I’ll cook you din­ner. You don’t have money for act­ing class? Let’s read lines.” I am so grate­ful for such an amaz­ing sup­port sys­tem. When I booked This Is Us, I had 80 cents in my bank ac­count. I could cry right now just think­ing about it.

Get­ting the role of Kate changed every­thing. It’s crazy to go from not hav­ing enough money to buy food to get­ting free din­ners. Why is it that

“It’s crazy to go from not hav­ing enough money to buy food to get­ting free din­ners.”

“When you’ve been down on your luck, you can re­ally see that [need] in oth­ers.”

when you re­ally need some­thing, you don’t have it? And when you can af­ford it, you have a sur­plus of it?

You may think, ‘Oh, you’re on TV, you must be a mil­lion­aire!” No. It’s def­i­nitely a lot more than be­fore, but I still live with my room­mate – though I pay my proper share of rent now. Meet­ing my car pay­ment on time? That’s new. I paid back my friends and step­dad. And three months ago I fi­nally paid off my credit cards!

I still get buyer’s re­morse – I got my first pair of Alexan­der Mcqueen shoes and I’m so con­vinced I shouldn’t have bought them that I haven’t busted them out of their box! I mainly just hope I can be suc­cess­ful enough to pro­vide for those who sup­ported me the times when I thought, ‘ I can’t do this any­more’.

This may sound silly, but what I re­ally wanted was for my grand­mother to have a washer and dryer in her apart­ment be­fore she passed away. I never got to give it to her. It’s heart­break­ing.

When you’ve been down on your luck, you can re­ally see that [need] in other peo­ple. Now that I’m liv­ing more com­fort­ably, how do I share with oth­ers? That’s what I’m try­ing to fig­ure out.

I’ve had women – av­er­age women, older women, teenagers – who say to me, “Your role and this show changed my life.” That makes all the strug­gle, the noo­dles, the times when I couldn’t pay my bills, the times where I was like, “I can’t do this,” worth it.

I still some­times cry on the way to the set. There is some­thing that hap­pens when you are grate­ful: you con­tinue to keep re­ceiv­ing bless­ings. So I will al­ways be grate­ful.

“There’s some­thing that hap­pens when you are grate­ful: you con­tinue to re­ceive bless­ings.”

One of the many things we adore about the new-sea­son styles that are head­ing our way is how in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic they all are. There re­ally is some­thing for ev­ery­one this au­tumn/win­ter, whether you’re an ar­dent ro­man­tic who loves to wear her heart on her sleeve (and ev­ery­where else), a retro babe (Ly­cra leg­gings, here you come) or a fan of high­shine drama that’s pos­i­tively re­gal.

Vol­ume is gain­ing fash­ion ground, with full skirts and ex­ag­ger­ated shoul­ders and sleeves, but if you pre­fer to show off your shape with some­thing body-skim­ming, plung­ing neck­lines and white jeans are the busi­ness. Fi­nally, you can dou­ble up by twinning with a gal pal. What­ever your choice, gor­geous is in your fu­ture.

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