“In kindergarten I went dressed as Madonna for Career Day,” said Vallo. “I always knew that I would be in some kind of performing-centered career. From the very beginning, I was scouring newspapers for auditions. I am sure I begged my mom to let me audition.”
Carol Webster who is the director for the Center for the Performing Arts with Roanoke County Schools remembers that Vallo’s first musical was “South Pacific” when she was just eight years old.
“The biggest thing I remember from South Pacific was getting to spray paint my hair black (my hair was very, very blonde at the time) to look Polynesian,” said Vallo. “When I was in ‘South Pacific,’ it was a popular thing to do the musicals. The whole wrestling and football teams seemed to be in the show and one of them would whisk me onto his shoulders for the curtain call. It had me hooked.”
“Skyler told me that she was bitten by the bug and would someday be a stage performer,” recalls Webster. “When she got to high school, she wanted to be a triple threat and due to her talent was cast as Guinevere in “Camelot,” Ado Annie in “Oklahoma,” Maria in the “Sound of Music” and Hodel in “Fiddler on The Roof.” Her comedic talents were seen in the female version of “The Odd Couple” where she played the compulsive neat freak Florence opposite Caleigh Keith’s sloppy Olive.”
Webster was Vallo’s theatre arts teacher at William Byrd during those years. She took dance classes with Floyd Ward.
“Skyler is a dedicated performer who understands the value of preparation and training and the importance of professionalism,” said Webster.
“Mrs. Webster was an amazing mentor,” said Vallo. “She initially was my guiding force. Her knowledge and expertise in the field were invaluable as I sought the future possibilities.”
“I went on to school at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama,” said Vallo. “I received my B.A. in Musical Theatre. It was a very intense program. I would do eight to ten classes every semester while many other students were taking five. I would start at 8 a.m. with usually jazz and ballet, take five core classes, piano and voice lessons, and musical theory (sight singing, composing, etc.). Around 6 p.m. I would be in the theatre rehearsing till midnight or later. If I was not cast in a show, I would be on a crew team, such as lights or props. It was a whirlwind, but exhilarating and I learned a lot.”
“Even when she was in college, Skyler was looking for summer work in professional theaters,” said Webster. “Much of her success comes from her determination to seek out auditions and to continually work at her craft.”
After college she began working for the Disney Corporation. She took the roles of Rapunzel and the Little Mermaid in both the Disney World and Disneyland Theme parks. Her roles with Disney allowed her to combine her interests in acting, singing, and dancing.
As for her experience working for Disney, “What can I say–it really was the happiest place on earth! Very few people get to go to work and get hugs, notes, kisses, and love from children all over the world. It was so sweet.”
Vallo went on to work for ABC television and in film, appearing on Austin and Ally, Pair of Kings, How I Met Your Mother, The Neighbors, Castle, American Horror Story, and in numerous print and commercial campaigns.
One of her favorite roles has been on “True Blood” where she says she “got to work with a ton of amazing actors and directors. It was also very cool to be a vampire.”
On June 6, Vallo is returning home to conduct an “acting intensive” day long workshop at Northside Middle School.
“Although I have coached children, teens, and adults in Los Angeles, this will be my first workshop,” said Vallo. “I wanted to bring the workshop first to my hometown because although there are wonderful theatre opportunities in the area (high schools, Showtimers, LTP, Mill Mountain Theatre) there are no film/television classes as far as I know. It really is a different type of acting completely. I have been acting for over twenty years, five of which have been specifically training in film and television.”
The morning will begin at 9 a.m. Students will prepare a one to three page scene from a television show (supplied by Vallo), and be taped to get on-camera feedback. They will learn about audition techniques, improv, and creativity. Parents are welcomed in at 3:15. The workshop concludes at 4.
Vallo will answer questions about the more-business related aspects of working in film and television, such as agents, headshots, and making the choice between union and non-union.
She says that workshop participants do not need prior training, “but a love for performing and an interest in film and television is a good start.”
“I am trying to keep this workshop very small, around 20, so every single person will have a lot of individual attention from me,” said Vallo. “I will be sending them the scenes beforehand so they will have to come with it well versed. I will be reading the scene with them, just like in a real audition with a casting director. We will put the audition on tape. Once everyone has performed, we will watch the footage back and I will be making suggestions, critiques, and helpful hints.”
The cost of the workshop is $250 through May 15; afterwards the price increases to $275. The last day to sign up is June 1. More information and registration is available online at www.skylervallo.com/workshop.
Her advice to would be actors is that making a living in the performing arts “is harder than I can even describe. The best thing to do is to have another hobby or another job that you enjoy doing and can make money at so you aren’t desperate on booking the job. Keeping busy is my best advice.”
Vallo’s most recent role is in “Forest Cove” which will be featured on Pixl and the Hallmark Channel. Another movie, “The A List” will be available at Target, Walmart, and on VOD on May 12, and shortly after on Netflix.