Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dallas Dweller: LeeAnne Locken

Dallas is full of colorful characters. There are those you see monthly in the society pages, whose stories are legendary in this town. But, this feature is inspired by the people that I think you should know more about because of their fabulous style, interesting back-story or amazing accomplishments.  Dallas Dweller seeks to introduce you to these fabulous faces. LeeAnne Locken is a controversial figure who's beloved by many for her charitable works and engaging personality and snubbed by many who feel she's a little too "real" for their taste. I love the fact that, love her or hate her, she's real. Bravo, LeeAnne!

Dallas Dweller: LeeAnne Locken
by Cynthia Smoot

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? LeeAnne Locken tries. She really tries. |  photo Thomas Garza

In a 2014 interview D Magazine said, "If you know LeeAnne Locken, you know a short title doesn’t cover her accurately. If you don’t, let’s go with her Twitter summary: TV personality, actress, emcee, inspirational speaker, reality star, author. It’s all true... You can’t miss her at an event: she’s either emceeing the thing or competing for an unofficial most glitz and glam award with Steve Kemble. She’s also an inspiration guru who has released a book based on her uplifting Facebook posts. Plus, she’s gorgeous with an infectious laugh." LA (as she will be referred to from here on out) is one of my dearest friends and I am almost embarrassed that it's taken me thing long to do a proper article spotlighting her fabulousness.

From "She's Got The Look"
photo TV Land (2009)

In 2009, LA competed in Season 2 of a reality show called She's Got The Look. Her appearance on this show took place long before I knew her and until recently, I had never seen the program. In preparation for this article, I went to her Vimeo page and watched her entire season. I was struck by what Sean Patterson, President of Wilhelmina Modeling, said about LA's audition in the premiere episode, "That big personality may work for you in your life, but as a model, if you've got a personality that's too big - you're gonna annoy the hell out of people." LA retorts, "It's my defense... I've had to be that tough person for a really long time." And as she walks out of the room, Patterson mutters under his breath, "Well... that's Dallas." "Boy," I thought, "This guy is GOOD.  He nailed her in less than a hot minute."

This conversation is a reoccurring theme in LA's life. There are many in the ladies-who-lunch crowd tend to say she's too pretty, too loud, has too much personality. She's just.. too much. This bigness makes her an easy target for jealousy and ridicule from some, and on the flip side, makes her adored by many. And what I love most about LA is that she wouldn't have it any other way. "My grandmother used to tell me that most people live quiet lives of desperation and the reason they watch TV or go to the movies is to escape the boredom and monotony of their lives. To that I say, get up off the couch and create some magic! The world's full of excitement and opportunity... if you want it."

That's a blonde LeeAnne stage left in Miss
Congeniality with Sandra Bullock (2000)

LA grew up in the Houston-area and in the summers would work the carnival circuit with her Mother. At the age of 3 this "carnie" was sweet-talking customers out of their quarters to pick a rubber duckie in a circulating river and by the age of ten, she owned and ran her own game.

As a teenager she entered the pagent world, making it all the way to Miss USA, and then decided to pursue acting. She has had bit parts in a million things. Among her successes were appearances in "Miss Congeniality" with Sandra Bullock (as a blonde pageant princess. Her talent was making balloon animals) and as Faye Dunaways’ daughter in "Rain".

Remember Pamela Anderson's role as the Tool Time girl in the 90s hit Home Improvement? LA was thiiiiiiis close to grabbing that role (she was in Los Angeles competing as a spokesmodel on STAR SEARCH) but she refused to move to Los Angeles full-time and the part went to Anderson who went on to become an international sex symbol. More recently, she had a brief appearance in the premiere episode of Good Christian Bitches Belles  (2010) that was filmed here starring Kristen Chenoweth.

Cynthia Smoot with LeeAnne Locken at a shoot this
past April promoting Organ Donation Awareness
photo C. Rene Designs & Photography
Her life has definitely not all been glitz and glamour. She grew up with an absentee Father and was emotionally abandoned by her Mother, who was much more interested in finding her next husband than she was in being a Mom. From PreK through elementary school, she suffered sexual abuse on a regular basis from her best friend's Father for 5 years. This pattern of emotional and sexual abuse carried over into her teenage years and (obviously) had devastating effects on her relationships with men.

She's battled depression, low self-esteem and insecurity and even tried to take her life at one point, but says instead of letting her past beat her down, she's made "her mess her message" and focuses on using her experiences to help others avoid and overcome the same circumstances she faced. One way she does that is through her daily inspirational Facebook posts.

Her heart now lies in using her platform to help others. She is a tireless supporter of many charities including DIFFA, Legacy Counseling and the SPCA. She's a hugely popular speaker at The Grace Project's annual weekend benefiting the Legacy Counsel which serves women diagnosed and living with AIDS/HIV and is a tireless supporter of almost any charity that asks a favor from her. She is currently working on a book about her life (I wonder who will play her in the movie!?) and wants to focus on her motivational speaking because helping others is what now brings her joy. She lives in Dallas with her super hot, police office boyfriend, Rich Emberlin (who's no stranger to reality TV himself), and two fur babies named Chief and Carly. Want to meet her yourself? Attend any of the noteworthy charity or fashion events around town and chances are... she'll be there front and center.

Connect with LeeAnne: