Rising star Emily (Worm) Thyme gives us an in-depth look into her many talents as she speaks openly on self-love and loathing, ways her perspective has shifted, and the support she's received along the way.
How did Worm come about?
When I was a kid my mom used to call me a little worm in a really cute way. She'd be like, "What are you doing you little worm?" I was a dirty kid, really fascinated with dirt, rocks, bugs, and all sorts of stuff. It also came from The Labyrinth. There's this little worm and he's like, "Who me? Nah, I'm just a worm!"
How do you feel about Corpus Christi?
I don't understand why people are always dying to get out of Corpus. I feel like the only reason people feel so stifled here is because this is all they've ever known. They need to get out of this mentality. I used to be one of those people like, "Fuck Corpus!" Now that I've gotten older and actually gotten into the art scene, I feel like this is an amazing community. There is talent under every rock, from graffiti to wire and all sorts of cool crazy stuff. I'm like, "Dude, why are y'all hating on Corpus? We're cool! What are you talking about?"
What is it that you do?
A little bit of everything. I know that's a really cliché answer but I'm an amateur at everything, master of none. I have the attention span of a worm so I haven't really been able to focus on anything. I shoot digital pictures, I like to do visuals, I like to piece together little clips on my cell phone and put it to music. I'm not a drawing artist per se, my hands are stupid and I cannot get them to do it. I'm sure if I practiced I could. I also sing, I dance, I've been in a few productions here at the Aurora Arts Theater. I was in a production of Evil Dead last Halloween. A couple of Halloweens before I was in Rocky Horror Picture Show. I guess the main things that I do is take pictures and model. I used to model a lot, but it's not my thing so much anymore. It's cool to model and I see value in that but I knew I wasn't being utilized to my fullest extent. With a lot of the photographers I would shoot with, I provided them the concept ideas and locations. After a while I was like, "Man, I'm really limiting myself by just being a model." Let's be real, all the glory goes to the photographer and that's fine and all, but I want to get my name out there. Don't get me wrong, there are techniques that people do behind the camera that I still don't fully grasp. I just wanted to be independent. I wanted to make my own art and be able to say, "I did that." I was tired of just being "the model."
What is the hardest part of putting yourself out there?
For me it was just fear of being ridiculed or thinking my work was up here then having people I looked up to be like, "That's trash." I was very insecure about myself and what I could produce. It wasn't until I actually got out there and started doing it. I would take pictures that I didn't even think were that great and they were really well received by some of the coolest and most talented people I know. Once that ball started rolling I couldn't stop. I was beginning to be taken seriously as an artist, because a lot of people don't take models seriously. They think a model is "just a model," which isn't the case. Modeling is a whole art form on its own. You have to understand your angles, your posing, your lighting. You can be the prettiest girl in the world but if you don't know how to get in front of a camera, your pictures aren't going to be that great. More goes into it than people realize. The thing in the beginning was just being insecure and like, "I don't know if I'm as good as I think I am." I had to take the plunge and be like, "Even if my work sucks, it's going to get better." That's all you can do. The only way you can see if you can even do something is by failing. It's the only way to learn.
How do you think we can get people to get away from the idea that modeling isn't art? Is that more up to the model or the photographer?
It's definitely a both sides thing. The photographer needs to respect the model as their own artist because they're using somebody's image -their being- as art. You should respect them for that, especially if they do a good job and don't need to be posed in every single way. I also think that models should take themselves seriously. I feel like a lot of people take modeling as this, "I'm just gonna go take some pretty pictures" thing. They give a bad name to models because sure, you're getting nice pictures taken but if there's no story -no emotion- that's all they are. In my eyes you're not a model if that's all you're doing. You have to make people feel for that photo. You gotta capture what's going on and give it substance. There should be a mutual respect and understanding between photographers and models. As long as there's that I think models can definitely be taken more seriously.
What has been your favorite form of art?
I would probably say acting and singing. I haven't been able to be a part of a whole lot of productions yet but even before I started getting into that stuff I was into musicals, plays, and movies. I'm a huge film fanatic so acting is definitely the thing I'm most passionate about. It's such a powerful medium and feeling being able to draw those emotions out of yourself to be a whole different character. The thrill of being on stage, live theater, seeing all those eyes on you and knowing that you have to deliver that and nail it in that moment... there's no do-overs. There's no cut. It's all right there in that moment. That's probably one of the purest art forms out there because in that moment if you fuck up, you fuck up. So acting is what I'm most passionate about but oddly one of the things I haven't been able to do as much as the others.
Why is it that you haven't been able to act as much?
A year ago I was very insecure about everything. I didn't think I could do things and I would intentionally sit out on auditions because I felt like, "I'm not pretty enough" or "I don't have the right hair color" or "I'm tattooed."
I used to be a completely different person when I was 18, 19. I was very punk like, "I'm gonna get EVIL DEAD tattooed on my knuckles. I'm gonna get a neck tat" and stuff. Then I grew up a little and was like, "Oh no, I actually want to do stuff where I need to be more versatile. Dang it!" I had a mohawk and everything -the full yard.
What led you to put yourself out there more?
My friends. To name a few: Eric Alaniz, Kevin McDermott, Olivia Ramos -all locals. I'm 26 now but had just turned 25 and was like, "Yes I have my whole life ahead of me, but I've already missed out on so much just because I was scared." Who cares dude? All of my friends were out there, pursuing their dreams and I'm stagnating because I don't like that my teeth are crooked or that my skin isn't perfect. I was just very self-loathing and self-hating. I went through an eating disorder from about 19 to about two years ago. I was very skinny and self-hating. I hated everything about me that I couldn't change. I realized I can't change these things, but that I'm the one who notices them the most. I just want to live, look back and be like, "I did that."
My friends really helped pull me out of that hole that I had dug. The more that I got out, the more people I met, the more influences I had, the more confident I became. My friends are my support group. They're my shoulder to lean on and they're the ones who pushed me to do my best. My partner has always supported me. He's just the best dude I know. He is so sweet and has always pushed me to get out there. Like, "I'll drive you there. I'll pick you up. Do you want me to help you?" You know, he's helped me take pictures, he's helped me perfect my skills. In short, my partner and friends believing in me is what made me believe in myself.
It hasn't been easy. There have been lots of backslides and to this day I'm still learning to be myself, but I'm more confident so now when I make mistakes or do things I'm not proud of, I take it in stride and learn from it rather than hating myself for it.
Do you know parts of why you were self-loathing?
I filled my head with unattainable images. I am not this tall graceful gazelle woman, you know? I'm 5'2, I'm curvy, and the people I looked up to were stick thin women that did not look like me. I really don't know why I was like that, I can only amount it to not being very kind to myself as a teenager, being with abusive men that made me feel really bad about myself and body. I will say that whenever I was in high school people weren't nice. Maybe I just surrounded myself with not very nice people, but I felt like I didn't deserve to be happy. I kept searching for this perfection I literally could not attain. I can't change my height or body shape. I know it sounds silly but I watched a lot of anime when I was younger and I was really influenced by those drawings -tiny thin waists but big boobs, tiny faces and proportions. I think that I overdosed myself with that stuff and was like, "I want to be a cute little anime girl." And that's not reality, we know that. You can't physically be like that! I did it to myself. I felt like I wasn't good enough for myself or anybody around me.
I was very different, abrasive, and ignorant as a teenager. I lashed out and made a fool out of myself. Once I started growing out of that I felt so embarrassed about the way I behaved that I was like, "Oh shoot, I'm the worst. I'll never be able to live that down." That's not who I am anymore. I still go through that to this day, seeing memories on Facebook. I've learned to say, "Yeah, I was dumb but that's not who I am now." I control my reality, I control who I am, and if somebody doesn't want to recognize that growth, that's not my fault. All I can do is say, "I'm sorry for the way I treated you. I'm better now. You don't have to accept that, so I'm just gonna do me and you do you."
On a lighter note, you said that acting was one of the things you enjoyed the most and that you were a film buff. What type of films do you watch?
I'm a huge fan of horror films. Not like Annabelle or Conjuring, more like Suspiria- the original and the remake. I really like abstract, symbolism, occult kind of horror films. Like The VVitch, all those A24 movies.
Aside from theater, what other acting projects have you been involved in?
I've been in a few videos now. Most of them were directed by Eric Alaniz who's a cinematographer here. I've been in a couple of music videos as well as some short films HomeBrew Productions, a team I'm a part of, have made. I came into them late in the game.
I saw "Patrick." How did you guys come up with that?
We had just finished up an episode of the Homebrew Podcast and we were having a few more drinks afterwards on Eric’s patio. One drunken thought led to another and before we knew it, we were all jumping in and adding little details and story elements. Honestly, some of the best ideas come to you within those blissful moments of friendship, unplanned and spontaneous. We knew we had about a week before Halloween and through teamwork and collective talent, we filmed and edited Patrick within 2 or 3 days. It was one night of filming and two days of editing.
What was your inspiration behind the short?
The story just kinda came to us as we kept talking and drinking. We were mainly inspired by the immaculate color schemes of some of our favorite films. We knew we wanted to have our short represent a significant color palette. I’ve always loved the whole ghost in a sheet concept and knew I wanted to incorporate it somehow. The mystery of what’s “beneath the sheet.” We wanted the short to have a more serious tone to it than others prior so we integrated some storytelling and relatable tragedy to add to it by having “Patrick” be the main character’s boyfriend who had passed the previous year. I guess you could say we all inspired ourselves, knowing what we could bring to this little Halloween short.
Has anyone helped you along the way you feel like you'll maybe never be able to repay?
Yeah honestly. The two people I don't think I could ever repay are Eric Alaniz and Kevin McDermott. They have put my name out there when they didn't have to. Eric has given me chances to shine. Kevin has pushed for me every step of the way. I don't think I could ever repay those dudes for the support and chances they're given me because that's what it really boils down to: somebody giving you a chance. That little, "Let me show you what I've got." They were impressed, they kept bringing me back, they kept throwing my name out there. They've gotten me paid gigs which is astounding because it's monetary gain for art. Even if it's just a little bit of money, it feels good to be able to say I'm paying for this with money I made from my craft.
Was there ever a time you wanted to give up?
If I'm being real here, almost every step of the way. I've had memorable moments of, "I can't do this. I give up dude. I'm tired of feeling like I'm in competition or like I'm not as good as other people. I should just stop because there's always going to be something better out there. I should just let them have their moments. I don't want to try anymore. I don't want to put myself out there." It's hard to do that, to be brave enough to keep trying.
I put a lot of my life on the internet for a long time. I don't really do that anymore. I've learned my lesson like, "Let's dial it back a bit. This is too personal. People don't need to be reading this." I did a lot of nude modeling too which I don't regret because it was a time in my life where I was feeling very sexually liberated. I was empowered by it. I wanted to feel sexy and confident, but it has come back to bite me a few times. I'm proud of myself for being able to push past that barrier. There are a lot of people that think lowly of me and there were a few times I felt very ashamed. The worst times I wanted to give up, I'd have a good cry and talk to my partner about it. In my darkest times he was always there reassuring me and waiting for the clouds to clear. He never judged me, never made me feel bad about it, he was just there. That's all I needed. I would break down and pick myself back up. I am my mother's daughter.
What are your strengths?
I'm honest. There's a lot of dishonest people in the world. Whether they're being dishonest to themselves or their environment. Being honest helps you filter out people in your life you don't really need. Some people might not like the way you view things or do things but as long as you're honest and being yourself you're going to get to the place where you belong. That's all any of us can hope for.
What do you think makes good photography?
It's very subjective but one of the biggest things is understanding lighting. Lighting can change the whole mood, the whole way the audience perceives it. Another thing is composition, the way things are set up in that frame. As long as you have an understanding of composition and lighting, you got it!
When you say you sing and act, are those usually together or separate?
A little bit of both. I am definitely a musical soul. I love musicals and being able to portray emotions and actions through the art of singing. Singing is so ancient -every culture knows what singing is. When you put music and acting together, oh my gosh. There are people that don't appreciate musicals, but for me that's where it's at. Singing all your notes, learning your blocking, and performing in front of a live audience all at once--and you tell me that's boring or easy?! I think people on Broadway are some of the most amazing people because they can move across the stage and climb things while remembering lyrics and timing! Man, my heart just swells with musicals. I'm such a dramatic person so of course I'm drawn to musicals and anime--they're super over the top!
How did you get into music?
With my mom there was never a quiet moment in the house. She introduced me to older musicals like My Fair Lady, Singing In The Rain, An American in Paris to name a few. My mom's always been kind of a singer. She never did it more than a hobby but my mom was always playing something. It's always been an integral part of my life. I could not imagine life without it. It transcends race, it transcends religion. It's a beautiful umbrella over humanity and even if you don't have access to an instrument you can always sing. You always have your voice.
What is something you know now that you wish you would have learned sooner?
To just accept yourself. There are things about yourself that you might want to change but if you don't accept yourself you're always going to be chasing something that you don't even fully understand. You can be a better person but if you hate yourself or refuse to accept yourself, you're going to be unhappy. I had to learn that a very very hard way. I wish I could go back and grab my 15 year-old self by the shoulder and be like, "Dude just be yourself! You don't have to pretend to be anything! You don't have to hate yourself! There will always be people who love you just as you are and if they don't then they are just not your people! They're just not. And that's okay." It's just accepting yourself, your failures, your shortcomings, and loving yourself for it. Those failures and shortcomings are a part of you.
Also, positive reinforcement. Negative reinforcement doesn't work. It's proven not to be effective. In clinical studies, positive reinforcement is what works every time. You're not going to tell a 5 year-old, "You suck, I hate you" and expect them to grow out to be a well-rounded human. No. You're going to love them, say, "It's okay, you did a great job." It may sound stupid but treating yourself like that child is what is needed because you need to love yourself. I wish I would have learned to accept myself earlier because I think I would have had a much easier time.
What would you say to someone who's just starting to embrace themselves and figure out what craft it is that they love?
To quote Shia, "JUST DO IT!" Just do it dude. Whatever you want to do, whatever your little heart desires. It doesn't matter if you're not getting the support from the people around you, just do it because you will find out things about yourself that you never even knew. Do whatever makes you happy. Don't listen to the little voice in your head that says, "I'm not good enough. What if people don't like this?" At the end of the day what's important is that you're happy with yourself. That you're satisfied looking in the mirror and being like, "Today could have been a day where I was too afraid to do something so I stayed home and did nothing, but instead I got out there and made something of my day." As a human you have a gift of being alive. You shouldn't waste it because it's a short life. It doesn't matter if you don't know how to do it or if you're not good at it. Just do it and see what happens.
What would you say to naysayers?
Watch me. I mean, people that speak negatively or are trying to tear you down -don't listen to them. They're not important. They're not people you need in your circle. Fuck them. What else can they do except say shitty things? They can't stop me. They can't stop you.
What is success to you?
Success is happiness. That's that. It's not anymore complicated than that because you could be "successful," but if you're not happy doing it then is it really successful or are you obsessed? Corporate America makes us feel like if we're not contributing to their society then we don't have worth -that we're unproductive. Capitalism has really made people feel like if they're not making money then they're shit. And that's just not true. As long as you're happy that's all that matters. At the end of the day that's what all of us are chasing. If you can wake up in the morning looking forward to doing something then you're already successful.
A lot of people think that success is financial. On your deathbed you are not going to think about how much money you made or how you were ranked by your peers. You're going to think about things that made you happy. It's a sad affair when people live empty lives because a full life is all that really matters.
What are your dreams?
My dreams change every day. I mean I have lots of dreams but I mainly dream of being fully happy with everything that I'm doing. I dream of having a good set of friends and a good idea of who I am. If we're talking about superficial dreams, it would be a dream to be a famous actress. I would love to be able to grace the screens of everybody. I would love to be able to ignite those same feelings I get whenever I watch actresses that I really like.
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