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As seen in the Fall 2013 issue.

Valerie azlynn:
Defying the odds

By Dennis Bernstein | Photography by Russel Baer

The journey to become a working actress in Hollywood is a long one; you have to have the tenacity to keep trying after rejection and defy the odds to be better than the thousands of people who come to town looking for the same gig.

Valerie Azlynn was better equipped than most as she knew adversity far earlier than when she stepped to the stage for her first audition.

At age 13, she underwent open heart surgery, a procedure that would stop many from pursuing their dreams, but instead provided more motivation to be a success. Now featured on the TBS sitcom Sullivan and Son, Valerie interrupted her shooting schedule to reflect on her journey.

Azlynn credits her family for her endless drive to succeed. “The word ‘No’ just doesn’t make sense to me. My grandmother was an Irish tough cookie, my mother was very tenacious and my dad had a playful side, so I think it created a perfect storm with me.”

Achieving her goal to become a working actress has been both exciting and challenging. “It’s just a very different type of life. For example, most people have anxiety interview for a job. I interview three to four times a day in multiple personalities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed in my car and I probably have been in every parking garage in Los Angeles.”

Working on the set of a sitcom requires tough skin at times. “I work with awesome people but when that includes four stand-up comedians, you’re going to be the subject of jokes a lot of the time and I readily admit I’m not the funniest person on the set. I really enjoy doing sitcoms and this show is amazing gift but my dream to work on the set of a feature film set in Paris someday.”

Azlynn stays in great shape and it is primarily due to hard work. “It’s hard to do conditioning when you’re working on a show but when I’m not I do Pilates, spinning, and running. I work out five days a week and I like to switch things up because honestly I really don’t like working out.”

Some actors feel that only people in the business can be significant others, but Azlynn has dated people from all walks of life. “I’ve dated computer technicians and Marines. It can be shocking for some people because it’s hard for them to comprehend when you do a scene with a love interest, you don’t have feelings for that person. Additionally our hours are psychotic (laughing), I work 16 hours a day and then I come home to prepare for the next day, it can be grueling, then going to not working for three months.”

The one challenge that never goes away is that of competition and the concern about continuing to hold ‘working actress’ status. “I used to be a lot more worried about the next gig, but now I’m trying to develop my own project which would give me more control of my work. The concern about work never goes away, it’s truly part of the job, I know actors with 200 credits in their 70s that still worry. It just never goes away but it’s what we do, we’re different people. The closest thing that would compare would be athletes like hockey players. We’re just wired differently, we’re constantly training, there’s always competition from newer, younger people. I read somewhere that movies and television are America’s third biggest export and while it’s an art form, make no mistake, this is a business."

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