By Magy Louis – Cougar News Contributor
Have you ever imagined you might run into celebrities like Steve “Sting” Borden – professional wrestler and current TNA World Heavyweight Champion – while shopping in your local grocery store? Or what about passing actress Meagan Good, who plays “Blythe” in the film Jumping the Broom, while going for your morning jog in the park?
The Santa Clarita Valley is located right between the tumbleweed-rolling desert of Palmdale, Calif. and the bustling big-city life of Los Angeles.
You hear of the young, the beautiful and the talented, moving to places like Hollywood or New York City to become stars. Whether you’re an aspiring actor, musician, or even if you have dreams of being a professional wrestler, a hometown like Santa Clarita doesn’t seem like the place where those types of dreams can come true.
Well, you thought wrong! Major League Baseball pitcher Jon Garland was born right here in Valencia. Actress and singer Ashley Tisdale graduated from Valencia High School and went off to score a lead role playing “Sharpay Evans” in the High School Musical film series along with the CW’s new TV series Hell Cats playing “Savannah Monroe.”
Santa Clarita may not be the new “Hollywood,” but celebrities like Taylor Lautner, who plays “Jacob Black” in the world-famous Twilight Saga films, stated that he loves the small-town feel in Valencia. He went to public school in Valencia until his sophomore year of high school. Lautner has said that he has never thought of moving out of this town.
“The thing I love is that my home life hasn’t changed. I still help out with the garbage. I still help out with the lawn,” Lautner said in an interview with GQ magazine.
Speaking of supernatural stars, the Santa Clarita Valley is also home to Tyler Posey, the star of the new MTV series Teen Wolf premiering in June and the handsome Michael Trevino, who plays Tyler Lockwood in The Vampire Diaries television show.
TV programs like CSI, Disney Channel Games – which is filmed at College of the Canyons – Malcolm in the Middle, Melrose Place, The Unit, Weeds, Zoey 101 and many more have found in our proud community suitable locations to film their shows. There are plenty of celebrity sightings in our town, but this is also where stars are born, go to school and choose to live.
Current residents of Santa Clarita are: Jason Gore, a professional golfer; Bryan Herta, an open-wheel race-car driver; Steve Borden , a professional wrestler; and Kyle Boller, a National Football League quarterback. All four attended William S. Hart High School.
Sean Collier grew up in Santa Clarita. He’s a former motocross racer and is now an actor on the hit TV show Motocrossed.
Crystl Bustos, a two-time Olympic gold medalist on the USA Softball team and three- time gold medalist at the Pan Am Games graduated from Canyon High School.
Valencia is also the location of the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) where actor Paul Ruebens, aka Pee Wee Herman, and film director, producer, writer and artist Tim Burton attended.
Bob Brontsema graduated from Canyon High School and attended COC. Now he is a collegiate baseball player and head baseball coach at UC Santa Barbara.
Humans aren’t the only ones to reach their stardom after getting their start in life in the Santa Clarita Valley. Lulu, an energetic and talented collie, was born in Valencia to mother Star and father Lassie VIII. Lulu has been in movies like Wild Hogs and Spellbound.
Our town may seem simple and dull, but maybe after taking a closer look, you’d find that talent and success are in the air. Stardom isn’t so far away; it may even been right in your neighborhood.
As a matter of fact, COC has plenty of accomplished people walking its grounds on a daily-basis. “For a person to succeed in the entertainment business, I suggest that they be able to work in all areas of the arts. They should be able to sing, dance, act, they should try out for everything,” said Phylise Smith, COC Dance Chair. She is a specialist in West African Dance and has been teaching at COC since 1988. Smith has performed solo and with her dance group called the Serakumbi Project.
“One student, Pamela Gonzales, has successfully graduated from Cal Arts, started her own dance company; has toured the state and recently with her company, competed in an awards show at the RedCat Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.”
“Several students have gone on to MA’s and P.h.Ds in Film Study,” Gary Peterson of the Cinema Department said. He has been teaching at COC for 20 years after acquiring a Film degree.
The Cinema Department offers courses like Film History, Culural Cinema, American Cinema and many others. The key is to find your niche and strive.
In the not-so-distant future, this city may be where the next President of the United States was born. Just think, COC may be where the People Magazine’s future Sexiest Man Alive took some college courses. This town might be just where you need to be to reach for the stars.