‘Farm girl’ finds success staying close to her ‘roots’
TABERG — “Don’t sacrifice who you are just to get ahead, and don’t leave your roots because someone said you should or need to.”
Emilya Washeleski said she sees her acting and modeling as a platform for showing small-town kids like herself that with hard work, courage, determination and resilience, any dream can become reality.
Today, Washeleski can say she’s appeared in a Super Bowl ad that continues to run on television, and recently won an audition to appear on a reality TV show. A Class of 2015 graduate of Camden Central School, Washeleski works for her family business — Fall Brook Stable on Coal Hill Road.
Washeleski has been professionally modeling and acting since age 15, recently making it to the big screen for a Wegmans commercial which aired during the Super Bowl immediately following the half-time show. That ad continues to air on some local channels.
“I have done quite a few commercials and movie jobs but this, by far, is a career high,” Washeleski said. “I randomly saw the audition posted for a local commercial online and thought what the heck I’ll submit and audition for the role...and I was chosen! I had no idea that it was for such a well-known grocery store at the time, nor did I know it was for the Super Bowl. They kept it very low key with minimal information about the script and what was actually going on.”
Washeleski has grown up showing horses and horseback riding competitively since the age of 10, having been a 17-time world champion equestrian. She fell from a horse and broke her back at the age of 9 or 10, when doctors told her she was lucky she wasn’t paralyzed.
“At that point they were questioning whether I’d ever ride again because it’s such a demanding sport, but by the grace of God and Yoga, and living a healthy lifestyle, I was able to heal and had no surgery,” Washeleski said. “I don’t have any pain, and I’m actually more limber now than I’ve ever been.”
What could have been a devastating setback turned out to be an opportunity to not only continue her career as a competitive equestrian rider, but also experience a slight twist of fate. It was through her competitive horseback riding and competing in the Youth World Horse Show in Fort Worth, Texas, where as a young girl, Washeleski landed her first modeling job.
“I started off with some Bohemian modeling in Texas for a horse show clothing boutique out there,” she recalled. “Through the years — meeting people and getting to know the industry, I began doing bigger jobs. Then I ended up doing ‘The Binge’ with Vince Vaughn (in 2020) on Hulu.”
With her acting career, Washeleski as worked with several different coaches in L.A. and Chicago, who would tell her that in order to “make it,” she needed to move away from her hometown.
“These big wigs would always say, ‘You’re never going to make it where you are — you are a little farm girl from Taberg, N.Y. You need to move. Nobody that successful could do it from your location,’” she remembered. “But my mom would tell me, ‘You don’t need to leave your roots to find success. There are different ways around it, and you can draw success to you.’ And her words are totally coming into reality — the fact I never had to sacrifice who I am and leave my roots. Now I’m getting more jobs and accolades than ever, and I think that’s an important story to share.”
And while spending 18 hours in Rochester filming that Wegmans commercial, Washeleski said another twist of fate may have been a “sign” that this Taberg girl was meant to show the world that success can come to anyone, no matter where they come from.
“The irony of this story is that when I got to the production set, the stylist loved my gold jacket that I brought with me, and I was suppose to wear that for filming,” Washeleski said. “Then 5 minutes before we started shooting, they asked me if the star of the commercial could wear it. I, of course, said, ‘Yes.’”
She said, “They then pulled out this blue and white leather cropped jacket. As soon as I saw it, I was like O-M-G, it reminds me of my high school colors. So I put it on and the wardrobe stylist loved it even more than my gold jacket. But it gets better...”
Half-way through filming the commercial, Washeleski said the set stylist/seamstress realized the jacket was missing something.
“So the seamstress on set randomly stitched a huge letter ‘C’ on the front of the jacket, along with a small chicken drumstick patch, and was like, ‘OK, now it’s perfect,’” said Washeleski. “I put it back on and was like this is so wild — this is totally a Camden (school) jacket and it’s not even mine, nor do these people know me. It was really made clear when the commercial aired, when I was getting a ton of emails and messages with people freaking out about this ‘vintage Camden’ jacket. So many people were floored when I told them this story and said it must be a sign, and they let me keep the jacket.”
Now Washeleski likes to use that jacket as a symbol to always stand up and be proud of who you are, and good things will come. Besides being featured in an upcoming reality TV show, Washeleski’s biggest aspiration is to one day appear in Hallmark Channel movies for their touching, moving and inspiring stories.
“When you start to prove that things are possible, it’s really rewarding to share your story,” Washeleski said. “And it gives you hope. You need to know what you stand for, your worth and what you want to do, and once you do, watch out.”
She said, “I believe everything happens for a reason, and that you need to be open and go with the flow, and life will support you in that. I also think the people you surround yourself with are a huge component — having a strong support system at home, with coaches and mentors, and the people who inspire you. The opportunities are endless, as long as you put yourself out there and you’re being authentic to who you are.”
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here