Actress Emilee Wallace
Edmond Teen Finds Television Success
Sharing the set with the stars of “Grey’s Anatomy” or rubbing elbows with actress Amy Brenneman might seem like an easy way to spend your days, but Emilee Wallace says acting is hard work and not for the faint of heart.
The wholesome good looks of the 16-year-old Edmond resident make it easy to see why casting agents invite her for auditions, but it’s her acting ability that has landed her roles.
Perhaps her most visible role to date was a guest spot on “Grey’s Anatomy,” which aired in April. Emilee played the teenage daughter of a dying woman. The part required her to cry on camera.
“She has to tap into what happened in her life that makes her upset,” said Kay Wallace, Emilee’s mom. Reliving the pain of recently losing her grandmother gives Emilee the emotional grist to convince viewers she’s hurting, but it’s not easy for her.
“You can’t do that just a little bit, you have to really go there,” Emilee said.
During her nine years in acting, Emilee has learned to immerse herself in whatever character she portrays. She’s played everyone from the girl next door to a punker and an abuse victim.
Emilee’s first role was Fern in a summer production of “Charlotte’s Web” On Broadway in Edmond.
After that, she and her younger brother BJ began taking classes at Acts Acting Academy in Oklahoma City. Before long, the siblings started doing local commercials. Despite the competitive nature of the entertainment business, the Wallace kids have learned to be completely supportive of one another.
One of the first big auditions they had was for Lyric Theatre, Kay said. Emilee did not get a callback for a second audition, but BJ did.
“He ended up booking ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Will Rogers Follies,’” Kay said. She remembers sitting in the Braum’s parking lot near Lyric with both her children in the car. “He’s ecstatic and she’s bawling. I said, ‘I can’t do this. You two are going to have to work this out.’”
From that day on, the Wallaces have faced every audition as a team.
“I go to most of his auditions with him,” Emilee said. When either one lands a role, it is something they both celebrate.
They’ve also learned to deal well with rejection, because in the entertainment industry it is a constant companion.
“You can never take the rejection personally,” Emilee said. “Sometimes they will tell you right then: ‘you’re too pretty,’ ‘you’re too ugly’ or ‘your eyes are the wrong color.’ You have to be OK with yourself.”
In addition to having good self-esteem, the Wallaces have learned that nothing is certain in this business – a fact that has been vividly illustrated to Emilee the past couple of years.
In 2005, Emilee had a guest spot on the TV show “Judging Amy.” She appeared in one scene and had four lines. But she made a big impression on the show’s star and producer, Amy Brenneman. From that brief appearance, she was cast as a series regular for he 2006 season. But then CBS suddenly decided to cancel the show.
“It was a surprise to everyone, including Amy,” Kay said.
This spring, Emilee went to several auditions and was finally selected to appear in the pilot for a new CBS show called “Company Town.” The role was challenging – a cutter, someone who inflicts wounds upon herself. The show itself was “Alias”-meets-“Desperate Housewives” – set on a cul de sac in Virginia, the series focused on characters who are intelligence operatives by day, but still have the humor and personal dramas of a soap opera. Emilee was cast as the daughter of Gary Cole (“West Wing”) and Sherry Stringfield (“ER”). The show also featured Blair Underwood, Catherine Bell and Esai Morales.
“These are wonderful actors that have done a lot of great shows,” Kay said.
CBS shot 14 pilots to fill three time slots. Unfortunately, “Company Town” was not one of those picked up for the new season.
“You have to do it because you love it and enjoy the process,” Emilee said.
She has set her sights on being a working actor. “I don’t want to be famous. I want to be able to support myself with the job I love to do,” she said.
Emilee is planning to attend the University of California at Los Angeles. After she started splitting her time between Edmond and Los Angeles, she began a self-paced education program and has already earned all her high school graduation credits. She’s even taken a couple of college classes already. She’s looking forward to majoring in pre-law at UCLA and later working as a child advocate.
In the meantime, look for Emilee on the television screen. She’ll be returning to Los Angeles at the end of June to schedule more auditions.