Posted on October 28 2015
This week's Wednesday Woman is awesome Carly Schroeder, award-winning TV and film actress, fearless rock climber, marathon runner and passionate animal activist. During her career, Carly has played diverse characters such as Melina Bianco in Disney's Lizzie McGuire, and the lead role in Gracie, a film inspired by a real-life tragedy during the childhood of actors Elisabeth Shue and Andrew Shue. To prepare for the Gracie audition where she plays a young football fan trying to compete in a boy's world (competitive football), Carly completed an intensive three month work-out regime which included daily football training with professional trainers and athletes.
Bardega: Carly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you were like growing up?
Carly Schroeder: If you ask my mom, I was a wild child who had to be outdoors in order to be happy. A precocious trouble maker with a real soft spot for animals and helping other people. My mom loves to tell people how I used to run around in my sparkly pink cowboy boots and yelp, "Howdy partner, hell you want?"
I don't really remember being a trouble maker though. I just really liked to play pranks on my dad; I painted his toes and made him play princess with me. Good thing he was such a good sport and would play Polly Pocket with me for hours and eat my burnt Easy-Bake creations. I was a very cuddly and sensitive kid who always wanted to know, " Why?"
Bardega: You started acting at a young age, what was it like being in the spotlight so young and how have you managed to stay so grounded?
Schroeder: When I auditioned for the soap opera General Hospital, ABC flew my mom and I out from Indiana. We got to the audition and all these kids were shy and I just walked into the audition room and was like, "Hey, this California place is pretty cool. I got a pool on top of my hotel. You should come over. I have a Game Boy and a game - Tiny Toons - I can show you how to play. We can say our lines too."
Acting for me is my safe place, I'm at home when I'm on set. I get nervous the first day of filming anything new, but by the end of the day I make everyone my adopted family, cracking jokes and just happy to be working.
As for how I stay grounded... People think that it's all glitz and glamour but growing up being a working actor gets you a lot of unwanted and unwarranted negative attention; the kids are mean and the parents are worse. Jealous is an ugly thing and these negative aspects really kept me close with my family. It is definitely a reality check.
Bardega: Can you tell us about some of the challenges you have faced?
Schroeder: Thankfully I've been really blessed in my life. I haven't really had serious challenges and it would be obnoxious to dramatize the problems I have had or escalate reality to evoke sympathy.
Puberty did hit me hard and I gained a lot of weight in my tummy and thighs and Hollywood is cruel about any kind of weight gain even if it's a 13 year-old girl. I've had my fair share of Mean Girl moments when I went to public school, and I took it because I wanted to fit in...
And I've lost more than a handful of roles because the Director required me to take my clothes off but these problems are so small in comparison to the severity of problems faced by females every day around the world. Sexual harassment, gender inequality, oppression based on race and religion... These are the things I feel strongly about and so I'm currently working with O.U.R. Rescue to help save young ladies who have been kidnapped and forced into the sex slave trade.
Bardega: You also feel strongly about animal welfare ~ can you tell us about that?
Schroeder: I’ve always loved animals. My mom has a video of me when I was three licking a salt block with two deer. I've always connected with animals and wanted to protect them. I rescued sea turtles in the Bahamas, worked with lions in South Africa, recently rehabilitated sea lions affected by the Rincon beach oil spills and am the proud mama of a fur baby, 5 month-old Shiba Inu, Jax Toulouse.
Loving animals made becoming vegan a no-brainer as well. To me, animals are like innocent children and therefore the idea of transforming living beings into products is not humane. Why do we love dogs, eat pigs and wear cows? Why of all animals in the world do we pick which ones to spare from consumption? If "tradition" or "protein" is your answer, I challenge you to think outside of current social norms and feel for yourself. At the end of the day, I love food. Anything you can eat, I can eat vegan so I urge others to try cruelty free... You might just like it!
Bardega: You are truly fearless and love adventure/climbing - how did you get into it and what does being fearless mean to you?
Schroeder: I've always been a climber. At some point in my life I started doubting myself and let fear have control of me and actually stopped being the brave little girl my mom and dad raised. I was fearful of heights and really just had to surround myself with people who helped me get past my mental block. I love adventure and would spend my last dime to see the world. I'm an outdoor nature-loving girl and always will be.
Fearless to me means that you love yourself, and believe in your decisions enough that the opinions of others can't influence your actions or sense of worth. Empowered women are the strongest; happy women are the prettiest, and intelligent women know they have nothing to fear.
Bardega: You are such an inspiration for many young girls and believe in the empowerment of women but What /who inspires you?
Schroeder: Honestly anyone who is compassionate inspires me. Kids are just as inspiring as adults. Anyone who strives to better themselves and others inspires me. Anyone who challenges normal ~ innovators and creative thinkers. Life is far too short and too beautiful to be mediocre.
Bardega: Finally what advice would you give a younger Carly?
Schroeder: I would tell her to not compromise herself in order to be liked or to make friends. I would tell her to be vegan sooner for both the animals, and the health benefits. More than likely, had I been more educated, I would not have gained weight like I did from 13-15 years old had I been a more veg-ucated girl.
I would also tell a younger Carly that your problems are nowhere near life and death like you perceive them to be. They are small, relative, and with time shall pass. Lastly I would tell her to keep a journal more focused on accomplishments, aspirations, and dreams rather than boys and their ability to flip their hair.
Carly on Instagram