Thea Sharpe has given surfing a try, but moving to Hawaii was not about tanning oil and bikinis for the 2005 Moffat County High School graduate.
It was a strategic career move, and the 18-year-old said she couldn't be happier about it.
"Eventually, I will be moving to (Los Angeles), but right now, the island of Oahu is becoming the second Hollywood," Sharpe said. "There's always something going on down here."
The actress left for the airport in May, just an hour after walking across the high school stage in her cap and gown. She said she knew she wanted to break into the TV and movie business. Moving to Oahu put her in the setting for some of the biggest productions, she said.
"Down here, you can be a big fish in a small pond," Sharpe said.
The plan seems to be paying off. She has landed a regular extra role on a new series called "Boarding School," and she likely will appear in a flashback scene on ABC's popular series "Lost" this week.
"She's really going for it, and it's a great opportunity for her," said Sharpe's mother, Jayney.
Sharpening her skills
Jayney Sharpe said she's proud her daughter is taking classes to improve her stage skills and earning jobs. Sharpe began courses at the Academy of Film and Television in Honolulu in July, which is how directors found her for the roles.
Sharpe's stage name is Thea Rae. Rae is her middle name, and she said she liked the conciseness of the stage name. She goes to classes on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoon, where she reenacts movie scenes, practices monologues and rehearses commercial work.
"Besides learning how to be a better, well-rounded actor in front of the camera, they take you behind the camera," Sharpe said. "When you understand what's going on behind the camera, you do better in front of the camera."
Her first role was as a background actress on "Boarding School," a 22-episode series slated to premier in April 2006. The show, to be aired on MTV's nighttime teen network, The N, follows four girls working to become professional surfers.
Sharpe has been on the set two to three times a week for two months. Each time, she portrays a different character. She's been a waitress, a high school student and a short-lived fling of one of the principal characters. She said she's really enjoying the work.
"Filming for the show, we're always like right there on the beach," Sharpe said.
While working on "Boarding School," the casting director for ABC's Emmy Award-winning series "Lost" gave Sharpe a call. She will portray a Los Angeles Police Department officer in a flashback for star Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Ana Lucia Cortez, who was previously in law enforcement.
"Her character is a real nasty, feisty girl," Sharpe said. "We learn in this scene that's where she gets all her fighting skills in the show."
Sharpe said she expected her one-time extra performance to air 7 p.m. Wednesday, but she wasn't sure.
A vote of confidence
Before she landed the job, one of the show's main characters gave her a heads up about extra roles -- and a bit of confidence.
In July, Sharpe was on her way to the beach when she met Josh Holloway, who plays Josh "Sawyer" Ford on "Lost," by chance. He told her about the background roles open on the show and encouraged her to send in her materials.
"A lot of actors won't do that," Sharpe said. "I got to talk to him and learn from him. Plus, he's one of the hottest guys on the show."
She admits she does not get as much camera time as other actors, but she sees the benefit of playing a background actor at the beginning of her screen career.
"Even though people think it's not an important job, it is," she said. "They need you. You complete the picture."
Plus, the free time allows her to watch the behind-the-scenes action.
"I'm not as busy as the principal actors, so I can talk to producers and crew members on breaks," Sharpe said. "I'm able to talk to people behind the scenes and learn from them. It's really building and widening the horizons of my career."
She credits a few memorable productions at Moffat County High School for sparking her acting interest.
As a freshman, Sharpe played the title role in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella."
"That was probably the most fun play for me out of all of them," she said. "I got to be the star for one night. What an adrenaline rush."
She played Cossette in an all-singing "Les Miserables" role her sophomore year, and she was a doo-wop girl in the next year's "Little Shop of Horrors" production.
In February, Sharpe walked away with an oversized check for $250 after singing, "Infatuation," in the Yampa Valley Chapter of Sweet Adelines International's Teen Idol contest.
Sharpe said she holds on to those memories and misses Colorado. But for now, she's enjoying the 75 degree November weather and 10 minute walks to the beach.
Plus, she has support. Her parents, Jim and Jayney Sharpe, and sister Rebecca, a fifth-grader, live on the island of Hawaii, a $35 flight away. She visits them every few weeks.
The family had planned to move to the Aloha State for several years, and they finally sold their Craig home one month before Thea's graduation.
So they all packed up their belongings, flew to their new home and had their horses sent over on ship.
They are seem to be enjoying island life. "It's always summer so there's always something to do," Sharpe said.
But she said she keeps her focus on acting and building her career so she can be the actress she's always dreamed of becoming.
Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or firstname.lastname@example.org.