Blessings of a Non-Celebrity Life

Learn why these talented women chose to pass on their brush with fame.

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Nobody notices when our face breaks out

Star Experience: Kimberley A. Johnson played a police officer on the daytime drama, Days Of Our Lives, for seven years. “The makeup crew referred to me as, ‘Diva Cop,’ because I’m 6 feet tall and blond,” she said.


Now: Founder of Ark Stories Publishing along with her mother, Ann Werner. She also runs The Body and Self Image Blog where contributers share what it feels like to live in their skin. “I got the idea in my twenties as I noticed so many of the actresses were petite and a size 0,” she said. “I hated my body and myself, and it was difficult for me to have a good body image. I always knew I wanted to contribute something positive.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I am delighted that I will not be on the cover of a tabloid with a big red circle and arrow pointing to a zit on my face! Being an author suits me just fine.”

Kimberley A. Johnson

We can have a bad day

Star Experience: An actress in Warhol’s early movies, Susan Blond later segued into advertising at Interview Magazine. From there she became the first female vice president in the record business. “I was with Michael Jackson when he was getting his handprint at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles,” Blond said. “The fans pushed us against this wall behind us. You can see how we could all be crushed to death— one big bully or push. You really have a life or death feeling when you’re a star.”


Now: Founder of Susan Blond, Inc., a publicity agency, representing the VH1 Save the Music Foundation. Celebrity clients have included Usher, Akon, writer/creater Robert Kirkman and Sean Paul.


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “The thing about superstars is that every single person they meet needs something. For example, if they don’t smile or let them take a picture, the person will remember it for the rest of their lives— there’s that constant pressure.”

Susan Blond, Inc.

It’s easier for us to develop meaningful relationships

Star Experience: Susie Shubert was the lead singer of a few bands in Los Angeles during late 80s and early 90s. “We played a lot of free gigs and spent a lot of money at Kinkos to tirelessly stand around the Sunset Strip, forcing our homemade flyers on people to promote our upcoming shows,” Shubert said.


Now: Assistant manager of a boutique store and the author of the blog, “Finding Borneo: My Son Has Asperger’s and All I got Was This Lousy Handbook...” “I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I have asked myself, ‘What if?’” Shubert said about her previous life. “But I know my decision was me being true to myself. As glamorous as those lives seem, I know first-hand that money and privilege doesn’t necessarily make you a happy person.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I reached a point where I felt sad and lonely all the time, exhausted by the whole rat race. I longed for meaningful relationships (both in friendships and love!) as I had very few of those in all of my time there. It was a true 'aha' moment for me to leave that all behind, realizing who I really was and coming to terms with the fact that that life would never really fulfill me.”

Cory Shubert

Nobody talks about us on Twitter

Star Experience: Stephanie Keshe moved to Nashville after graduating from college with a degree in vocal performance, hoping to become a country music star. While working as a bartender, she befriended folks in the music industry, and landed her first job as an associate editor for a trade publication. “The lifestyle in the industry is so much better than being a starving artist,” Keshe said.


Now: Regional recording representative, traveling to radio stations around the country to ensure airplay for Curb Records’ artists. In her career, she’s worked with superstars like Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, Rodney Atkins, Clay Walker, and helped build up new acts like Lee Brice and Ashley Gearing. “It’s the most amazing feeling when you’re at a concert, and you hear thousands of fans singing along to a song that got on the radio because of your hard work,” Keshe said. “I cry every time.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “Twitter. You can easily see the hateful things people will say about you. I can't imagine what that would do to your psyche to read negative, awful things about yourself on a daily basis.”

Stephanie Keshe

We don’t owe anybody nothin’

Star Experience: Jennifer Hancock worked professionally as a singer and is a member of the grammy association. “During that time, started up and I actually had a hit on it,” she said. “My song, Chuck, the bungee jumping spider of doom, made the top 20 list of comedy songs one year.”


Now: Stay-at-home mom and author of The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom. She also does public speakingas well as play music and sing for her own enjoyment. “The best part for me is that I still get to be creative with music, but I’m not stressed out about getting a gig or in trying to do work that pleases other people,” she said. “The only person I need to please is myself and my son, for whom I make up songs.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not Famous: “My life is my own. I don’t have responsibilities to anyone but myself.”

Jennifer Hancock

Our cellulite is our own business

Star Experience: Karen Schaefer moved to Los Angeles in her late 20s to become an actress. Was cast in a movie with Bruce Willis and Sarah Jessica Parker. “I was all the dead bodies that floated in the river,” she said. “The river was freezing. The director would yell, ‘Cut,’ and Bruce Willis would start yelling for people to get me blankets and a heater.”


Now: Founded The Association of Property Scene Designers, which helps women build and develop their own home staging and home staging training companies. Author of home staging books and the children’s series, Phoebee Fleabee. “Acting was more about me, but I love what I do now because I have the ability to empower others to change their lives for the better and to live to their fullest potential,” Schaefer said. “Life is all about the good you can do.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “My husband, Pete, is the salt of the earth. If I would have stayed in LA and kept at it, I never would have married him. And besides, I really don't think anyone wants to see me in a bikini on the front of the National Enquirer with a long debate on my cellulite.”

Karen Schaefer

We can keep our kids’ lives private

Star Experience: After graduating with a degree in journalism, Shannon Colleary decided to try her hand at acting, and was cast as the lead in a film produced by Roman Coppola called Smash, Crash and Burn. “Unfortunately, the film never came out,” she said. She went on to dance in music videos for bands like Guns N Roses and INXS, and play the odd guest role on sitcoms.


Now: Foremost a wife and mother, Colleary also writes screenplays, her most recent for Lifetime TV. And she is the author of the blog, "The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful", where one of her posts, a parody of why celebrities wish they were anonymous, won BlogHer’s Voice of the Year 2011.


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I'm so grateful I'm not a celeb when I see photos of Halle Berry, Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow trucking their kids around. I would hate having my children in the middle of that kind of maelstrom.  Also, who really wants to go through menopause in the public eye. ‘Cuz that's where I'm headed baby and it ain't gonna be pretty.”

Gina Kershaw

We’ve got longevity in our careers

Star Experience: Lisa Helfend Meyer studied acting in college. “I pursued it even more intensely than my academics and desperately wanted to be successful with it,” she said. But because her parents wanted her to become a lawyer, she didn’t attempt a career in it upon graduation.


Now: Founder of the Los Angeles firm, Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, LLP, the country's only major family law firm led exclusively by female partners. “The intellectual and emotional rigor necessary to represent men and women in some of the most difficult times of their lives with divorce, custody battles, is an amazingly gratifying experience,” Meyer said.


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I still have a career after turning 50. Most female actresses find the going rough after 40.”

Courtesy of Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers

We don’t get caught up in the drama of reality TV--well, at least not publicly

Star Experience: Jilene Framke worked with celebs at her local Fox television affiliate. “I was jumping in limos with 90210 stars to do PR at 5 am, producing station promos with NBA and NFL players, hosted an itty bitty educational kids’ program, and interviewed amazing musicians like Bruce Cockburn and Peter Himmelman.”


Now: Framke styles wardrobes, writes a freelance column, and runs a small business called Angel Toes Inc. “My work is gratifying,” Framke said. “The women I work with are so thrilled to discover there are outfits out there they feel great in. That makes me happy. And my blog and freelance fashion column allow me to just sit, think and write.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I could probably better answer the question this way: ‘I’m thankful I don’t work on behalf of the famous in 2011’ because fame can mean something very different in this decade. You know: Reality shows, scandals, stuff like that. If I had to get up at 4am to escort a Jersey Shore or similar reality show star to a stint on a morning drive show,  I’d question MY own reality.”

Jeff Framke

We can make mistakes

Star Experience: Liz Banfield shot CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta’s wedding as well as the cover of Real Simple Family.


Now: Formerly an advertising executive at top agency Fallon, Banfield relaunched as a professional photographer. “More than a job, it’s a life’s work,” she said. Her wedding and lifestyle photography has been published in Martha Stewart Living, Town & Country, People and Country Living. “I love to ‘blend in’ to a situation so that people feel unselfconscious about being photographed.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I would hate the feeling that my every move would be watched and judged by complete strangers.”

Jenn Cress

We don’t have to fight screaming fans while grocery shopping

Star Experience: Jess Wright works with famous musicians when her radio station puts on huge concerts and hosts station visits.


Now: Radio personality and Program Director of a country radio station. “I get to be involved in helping musicians succeed in their careers, and as a music lover that makes me proud of what I do,” she said. “And I get to use the extensive reach of our radio signal to make a difference in the community and show our listeners how they can make a difference, too, even if they don’t have a lot of money to spend.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “My ego is already big enough could you imagine if I had throngs of screaming fans following me everywhere? Not pretty.”

Eyes of a Child Photography

We can leave the house without taking a shower

Star Experience: Valerie Allen has done personal public relations for clients like Dr. Drew Pinsky, Bobby Brown, and Brigitte Nielsen. “Outside of appearing on Romper Room when I was a kid, I never had a desire to be in the spotlight,” Allen said. “I am definitely a behind-the-scenes type of person.”


Now: Formerly a television producer, Allen is the founder of Valerie Allen PR in Los Angeles. “It’s really fun to work with clients to shape their messages and segments, and then see them on The Today Show or Ellen, or even the local news,” Allen said. “The most rewarding aspect of my career has been the honor and pleasure of working with Dr. Drew Pinsky for 14 years.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “The media landscape has changed and celebrity coverage is more intense and brutal than ever, especially on the internet.  I'd absolutely hate to have to be camera ready every time I walked out the door.”

Adam Bouska No H8 Campaign

We know the people closest to us are true

Star Experience: Diane Lockner does promotional work for a record label, acting as a liaison between musicians and radio stations. Celebrities she’s worked with include The Stones, Lenny Kravitz and Justin Timberlake.


Now: She left the world of pop and rock music for the country scene. “Country artists are beyond genuine,” she said, based on her experience with artists like Keith Urban and Lady A. “I’ve been doing this job for over 20 years, and still wake up every single day loving my job. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I think you lose sight of who you are and start to question everyone and everything. And the things people say and do and expect from celebsI simply do not have the patience.”

Steve Stolzfus

Image? What’s that?

Star Experience: Cindy Rae Betting is a freelance make-up/hair artist. Celebrity clients include singers Prince and Alanis Morisette, as well as actors Teri Garr and Will Smith.


Now: Style and beauty consultant for major television networks, cable channels, retail stores and Fortune 500 companies.


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “You are always ‘on’ when you are a celebrity and that can be very trying to always be so careful of your image and how something you say or do may be misconstrued to your detriment.”

Joan Buccina

We can put our passion where we want

Star Experience: Formerly an actress in New York City, Cheryl Brinkley relocated to Minneapolis, where she acted both at the Guthrie Theater and in commercials.


Now: Adjunct faculty in the Department of Theater and Dance at Macalester College. Brinkley also launched B. VOCAL, LLC, which offers speech, communication and performance coaching. “What I learned in the theater translates to a priceless advantage in human communication and relationships,” she said.


Why She’s Glad She’s Not a Celeb: “I don't want who I am and what I do to be in any way dependent upon how I look. Keeping up an outer appearance is exhausting. I’d rather put that energy into creating and delivering better service to my clients.”We can put our passion where we want


Jennifer Jeanne Patterson is a freelance writer and author of52 Fights. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three children. Find her blog at Unplanned Cooking.


Related: Stars Who Lost it All

Amber Johnson

First Published Tue, 2011-09-06 11:19

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