Imagine you are sitting in your high school English class. On your right sits Mischa Barton, soon to star on a show called the OC. On your left sits Alexandra Daddario, star on the soap opera All My Children. Behind you sits Tell Carlson, male supermodel and star of Christian Dior’s 2004 spring and summer campaign. In front of you your English teacher complains that Sarah Michelle Gellar and Julia Stiles never moaned when they read Pride and Prejudice in his class a few years ago. Class ends. You walk down the hall with your friend Polly Baird, a cast member of Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera, when Scarlett Johansson stops you and asks if she can retake your year book picture. Apparently the one she took of you last week didn’t turn out very well.
This scene is not a description from High School Musical 3 (though no one bats an eye lash when people randomly break out into song and dance), but rather one of my memory’s as a ballet dancer and student on an average day at the Professional Children’s School.The Professional Children’s School in New York City, commonly referred to as PCS, is a normal high school. Well, almost normal. What makes PCS unique is the student body of movie and television stars, Broadway actors, ballet dancers, musicians, models, and athletes. Students at the Professional Children’s School are exactly that: professional children. PCS, however, only teaches academic subjects; it does not teach its students their professional trade.
So what makes former students like Vanessa Carlton, Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Christie Carlson Romano, Laura Bell Bundy, Macaulay Culkin and countless others decide that PCS is the school for them? One factor is the allure flexible scheduling. PCS prides itself on its ability to provide students with an excellent education while working around complicated schedules. If you think that modeling in the Bahamas on a remote island is a good enough reason not to do your homework, think again. Just because you are not in class to hand in your book report does not mean you are not expected to email it to your teacher from Figi.
Fast forward a few years and I find myself not in Figi but at The Frisky, which ain’t a bad place to be. I haven’t had a moment of regret since retiring from the high pressured world of ballet and have loved every minute of having a “normal life.” For a few years, and especially during the years I studied in Oxford, England I forgot about the glamorous lives of my former classmates. Whenever I thought of them I did so fondly, but I was in a new place in a new environment so fundamentally different from PCS. I now find myself back in NYC and a happily remembering many of my high school memories. I expected this, I am on my old stomping ground and it’s only natural that certain cafes, shops and streets should arouse memories from my past. What I was not expecting, to constantly see my classmates in the tabloids.
I am somewhat used to seeing familiar faces on the magazines and on TV, but this week has been especially odd. Moderately famous girls from my year are suddenly all over the tabloids! It feels like half of my eleventh grade English class is on Splash News. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, it’s more like a third. I hadn’t thought about Alexa Joel (aka Billy Joel’s daughter) or Alexandra Daddario (she was on some soaps and is now filming something) for years and suddenly they are all over my computer screen!
I feel a bit like a voyeur. I am not stranger to following and writing about the lives of the rich and famous, but it’s off putting when I actually know/knew them. I am sure seeing people I know in the movies would be super cool if I wasn’t planning to write a review on it. Don’t even get me started on the total awkwardness that is watching a sex scene…But I wonder how all of our career paths will develop. Will they continue onto stardom and I make a living by writing about them. Something feels wrong in that, but I just can’t yet put my finger on why.