We had the good fortune of connecting with Haleigh Burckley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Haleigh, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think risk taking is an extremely important part of life. When I look back on my short 23 years, although I haven’t accomplished as much as I’d like up to this point, I’ve had experiences that I spent most of my childhood dreaming about, and I’m very fortunate for that. That being said, I don’t imagine I would’ve experienced a lot of these events if I hadn’t taken some immense risks. After I quit school and theatre, I feel into a really deep hole of anxiety and unsureness about the world around me. So eventually I quit performing altogether, and by the time I decided to pick up my craft again years later, I was such a nervous wreck that I couldn’t look through audition postings without getting sick to my stomach. But if I’ve learned anything from that period of my life, its that I only kicked the anxiety when doing the things that made me the most anxious, like taking the risks that gave me incredible opportunities. One of my favorite actors once said that if you don’t take risks and trust yourself, your craft, you’re never going to reach the height of the potential that character has. And I feel that directly reflects in not only my work, but my personal life as well.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started acting at the age of 8 in theatre productions at my hometown’s youth theatre in Broomfield, Colorado. Not too long after, I started playing around with the camera with my brothers, cousins and friends, making movies in our neighborhood. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to act in films and although neither my parents or I knew how to get there at that time, theatre was fruitful in Broomfield and the surrounding cities, so I integrated myself with the thespian community in and outside of school. Around the time I hit my preteen years, the idea of modeling was bestowed upon me, and although it was never something I’d remotely thought about or taken interest in, I tried it out. I was horrible and I absolutely hated it. Fast forward to late teenage years – I was acting regularly in as many as 7 shows a year and picked up the idea, once more, of modeling and still photography. I was still horrible at it, but was starting, at least, to enjoy the act of it. The same year, I landed my first small role in a local independent film and absolutely fell in love with it. And although I was succeeding in my craft, my life in school was quickly diminishing. Beginning my junior year, I started classes online and eventually completely dropped out at the start of my senior year. As I previously mentioned in regards to risk taking, after I quit high school, I stopped performing and started focusing on work and surviving. So by the time I decided to pick up performing again, I’d been so far gone from it, the thought of auditioning made my stomach turn. So I spent a lot of time researching, learning and growing. I started studying models & actors and techniques each used to portray emotion through their work. I gave modeling a third try and it was liberating. I changed my mindset of modeling from “pretty faces” to “emotionally driven”, sometimes going as far to make the look off-putting if it was getting my emotion across. From there I took anxiety as a challenge – almost a guide if you will – for what I needed to accomplish next. And that’s been one of the hardest challenges and clearest paths I’ve ever walked. What I’d come to learn is that the only way (for me personally, at least) to overcome this burden, was to do the exact things that made me anxious. Soon enough I came to tolerate it and it was no longer incapacitating. And the more I honed my independence and strength, the more I came to use anxiety as a means for what I need to accomplish next. In my thinking, if something scares me, I need to to do it. Otherwise, I’ll never know how absolutely great I can be – the highest I can reach. I used that in everything I did, from films to workshops to photoshoots to producing, I always had to be better than my anxiety. Soon after I started modeling, I picked up film again and have been acting, modeling and producing since. And the biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way, one a dear friend instilled in me, is that independence and self gratitude comes from leading, paving the path YOU want to follow instead of reacting secondary to the world around.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
In the event that I were to take somebody out in Denver, there’s a number of great spots we’d hit. However, being that most of my favorite joints are part of the nightlife downtown, during the day, I’d start with breakfast at Sassafras on Colfax where they have some of the best southern breakfast food in town. Then we’d take a drive up to Boulder and hit the trails at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) and head down Mallory Cove – one of my favorite trails. Heading back down town, we’d stop at Chada Thai on 17th to pick up lunch (the BEST Thai food) and make our way to Cheeseman Park to eat. Then we’d pop down to Santa Fe Dr. to check out the Room of Lost Things where we might pick up a preserved baby octopus, or we’d head back to Colfax and hit Antiques Etc. In the evening, I’d take my guest to either PS Lounge (a cute low lighted bar where they give a rose to every lady that comes in) or the Green Russell (an underground “speakeasy” with a number of class A drinks at their bar). Some other cool spot we might hit throughout the week would include Retrograde, another “speakeasy” inside of an ice cream shop or if we were feeling dancey, we’d hit up the Mercury Cafe on a Thursday night for swing dancing.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to recognize my parents, Jim and Traci Burckley. Every day I’m on this Earth I think more about how I approach difficult situations presented to me and who I want to be at the end of the day. My parents raised me to be kind and loving. They taught me how to care for others and how to hold my own when being taken advantage of. They taught me to appreciate the smallest things, how live in the present moment and how to forgive. But they also taught me to appreciate hurt, sadness and the ability to tolerate both with an open heart. The taught me the value of marriage and the greater value of independence. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the folks that I do and even more grateful for the person I’ve become because of them. My parents are empathetic and genuine, and that’s not something you can mold someone to be, that’s something you decide to be. And I decide every day that I’d rather be like them than anyone else.
Photographer: JJ Constantine, Makeup/Hair: Andre Marie Photographer/Designer: Duane Topping (Topping Designs) Photographer: Dustin Handrich (Dustin Moon Visuals) Photographer: Jonny Edward (Jonny Creative Visual Storyteller), Designer: Duane Topping (Topping Designs) Photographer: Jordan Johnson (J Angel Visuals), Makeup: Andre Marie Photographer: Shawna Rose Photographer: Matt Archer (Archer Photography) Photographer: Mia Griggs (Mia Griggs Fine Art)