A Calgarian in LA

What's up LL fam, happy Monday & thanks for joining us on the blog! Today we have a super special guest and brand ambassador talking with us, Jessalyn Wanlim! Jess is a Canadian actress and model, best known for her role as Evie Cho on the science fiction television series Orphan Black, as well as Jenny Matthews on the sitcom Workin' Moms. Now living in LA, Jess has still never forgotten about her roots in Calgary, and is now representing YYC in LA as a brand ambassador! In the blog, Jess chats with us about life in LA, her story as an actress & model and how she came from Calgary to life in the bright lights!

Read & enjoy :)


Jessalyn Wanlim here. In Los Angeles. Giving a huge shout-out to my hometown, Calgary! The funniest thing about telling Angelenos where I’m from is that they literally have no idea where Calgary is. “Is it near Toronto”? “Is it west or east”? “What’s Alberta”? True story.  Well, I can say that Calgary has truly made me who I am today, and only recently have I really embraced what it is to be a Calgarian in LA.

All photos by Angela So

LA is interesting, to say the least. At the beginning, I hated it so much. People kept telling me it takes two years to love LA. It took four. And now I’ve been here for over 8 years and honestly don’t see myself living anywhere else. Maybe it’s all the Vitamin D. Maybe it’s the love of my life. Maybe it’s my dogs. Maybe it’s the spicy tuna over crispy rice sushi that I dream about errday.  Whatever it is, I’ve embraced LA for all it has to offer.

But life in LA isn’t always the sunshine, beaches, and...chillaxing? As an actor, it’s been a test of personality and perseverance. How many times can you get knocked down before it gets to you?  How many dirty looks can you withstand from your “competition” before you start questioning if you’re pretty enough, talented enough...Asian enough.  Yeah, that happens too. I can’t tell you how many no’s I’ve gotten, how many times I’ve felt absolutely defeated. But I honestly wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love what I do. And that is to entertain.

Calgary has been central to what I’ve developed in myself as an artist and as a person. I went to a Christian school, was taught to memorize Bible verses, which has turned me into a line-memorizing machine. I danced my little heart out at Dynamic Dance Studio where I learned discipline and how to push my body to its limits, fall down, and get back up. I performed at the Grandstand Show every year at the Stampede, surrounded by dancers, gymnasts and the like who taught me that if it rains on that stage, you gotta suck it up and backflip your way through life.  And if you fall, you just fall…in front of all of Calgary.

My life is, in no way, ordinary.  When my friends and family say they live vicariously through me, it kind of makes me laugh and cringe at the same time. Yeah, I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences, getting to work with Alicia Keys, Tyler Perry, the cast of Modern Family to name a few.  But my day-to-day life is literally the hardest thing to withstand.  I wake up every day not necessarily knowing if something is going to change my life or really make me question what I’m doing with it.  Like any artist, the struggle will always be there, but how you handle it is the ultimate test of one’s self.

If I find myself veering from my goals, I really do hone into my roots. My Calgary roots. Like, what would young Jessalyn do in a situation like this?  Well, she’d probably get some ice cream and get over it.  Have I told you how much I love ice cream?! But in all seriousness, I’m so glad to be from Calgary, representing Canada in this crazy world we live in.  Big thanks to my mom, dad, sister, Brett, cousins, grandparents, pretty much all my family, Sarah Lee, Nick Roper, Ian Lupton, Ms. Haas, Mrs. Spencer, Cheryl Flewelling, and Heather Murdoch for making an impact in my life.  

Local is where it’s at, and I stand proud being a Calgarian.


Back to Kathleen here! Thanks for joining us on the blog, and as a special bonus Use the code JESSLOVESLOCAL for 10% off all apparel on our online store!

Stop in next Monday to see who we have on the blog next! If you are someone you know would like to be a brand ambassador for us and share your story about community on our blog drop us a line! Chat at chaaa next week Calgary - stay local!