Before Toddy Walters began working at Karsh Hagan, she had two stints in Hollywood. Some of us have heard her sing in one of her bands — Winehouse – but she is so quiet and humble, that most of us don’t know about her adventures on the West Coast. So we decided to share the intriguing stories of her time in show business.
The first time Toddy moved to Los Angeles, she was barely 18 and held several waitressing gigs (spilled hot butter on John Cusack, got a big tip from Alec Baldwin) as well as auditioned for terrible movies and sang backup in a band for the first time. She had dreamt of living in LA since her first episode of Charlie’s Angels.
She played Winonna Ryder in South Park
After returning to Denver, attending CU and starting a relationship with the co-creator of South Park, she moved to Los Angeles again; she was 28 years old. She did voiceovers and wrote music for the first two seasons of the show, then played Winona Ryder in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.
Also, Toddy ended up on the editing room floor of The Thin Red Line, was a motion capture stand-in for the Korean martial arts team in The Matrix 2 and 3, and was the production office coordinator for an animated feature film called Lil’ Pimp.
She laughs as she remembers those moments, especially seeing her name in the credits of the South Park film set between Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, and Stewart Copeland, the drummer for The Police. “When I saw that, I was like, ‘I have made it!’”
Show business is not easy
Despite Toddy’s talent, show business was not easy and rarely what it seemed to be. She recalls a premiere party for a film held at Hugh Heffner’s Playboy Mansion, which included a private performance by Metallica. There was a host of celebrities, and a menagerie of birds and monkeys, one of which peed on her. Other parties were more nefarious in nature.
While working for one studio, she learned that each occasion warranted two different parties: one for friends and family, and one for mistresses. “You always had to make sure that the guest lists were separated. It was this unspoken thing that there was the party, and the PARTY afterward. The money involved was just ridiculous.”
Decided to follow her heart to music
After her comedic role in the Trey Parker movie Orgazmo, she reached the wall that is built in front of most young women in Hollywood – the roles available reduce them to objects for the male gaze. Toddy decided to follow her heart to music, where she was the director of her brand. Here, she had creative control – and if she was going to be objectified, it would be on her terms.
She now Performs in the tribute band Winehouse
Toddy is our Human Resources Generalist, a move she believes was a natural progression from office production coordination. While she is still interested in acting and has recently done singing and voiceovers for radio spots in Denver, her main love is music. She performs in the tribute band Winehouse, channeling the beautiful and haunting Amy Winehouse with her voice and acting talents. “It’s not a cover band,” she explained in our interview, “and that’s an important distinction I think, because what I endeavor to do is to embody her spirit truly. Her music is so timeless, and it appeals to so many people, and it marries the two things I love, acting and singing. So I’m able to perform as her and get into her mindset.”
Winehouse recreates the late singer’s shows with the same setlists and banter. After studying Amy’s live performances, Toddy is now able to improvise while playing Amy. “She was such a funny little creature. She said the funniest things, and sometimes I’ll just say funny things as her that I make up, and it’s fun too. Her music is still so alive, even if she’s not. It’s nice to be able to give an homage, and get something back because it’s fun.” Her favorite song to perform is ‘Back to Black’.
Her advice, do what ever it takes to make it
Toddy’s advice for young people pursuing dreams in singing or acting is to stay clean and sober, stay committed, and network. “Don’t be afraid to network,” she told me. “It’s the same thing I would tell interns – meet as many people as you can, pick their brain, and just do whatever it takes. Start wherever you have to start and just get in the business, and always keep your dignity.”
-Kt McVeigh, Copywriting Intern