St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message
 

Young actor enjoys her struggle

Palma Ceia Plant High School graduate Dreama Walker plays Hazel in TV's Gossip Girl.

By Alessandra Da Pra, Times Staff Writer
Published February 22, 2008


ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa native Dreama Walker describes herself as an optimistic, exuberant, happy girl. But on TV, she was an unscrupulous, snobbish gal in the popular TV show Gossip Girl.

She played the relatively new character Hazel in two episodes before the Writers Guild of America strike began in November. She was part of main character Blair Waldorf's circle of friends in the teen drama based on the novel series by Cecily von Ziegesar.

The show follows the deeds and misdeeds of a scandalous and vicious group of young socialites living in New York's Upper East Side.

"It's just a really entertaining, fun show," said Walker, 21, who moved to New York City to pursue an acting career after graduating from H.B. Plant High School four years ago.

Walker wanted to be a performing artist since her childhood.

At age 2, she turned scallions into talking puppets while sitting in the grocery cart. At age 3, she stole the spotlight at her older sister's 12th birthday party by singing in front of the guests.

"She has been a very unique, very talented, wonderfully expressive person ever since she was a little girl," said her mother Elyse Walker. "I miss her tremendously because she is such a joy to be around."

Walker, who has a passion for comedy and admires Hollywood stars such as Julianne Moore, Parker Posey and Kate Hudson, was ecstatic when she got the part on Gossip Girl.

"I first called my mother and then I went on a rampage and I pretty much called anyone and everyone that would care - even people that wouldn't care," Walker said.

Her character has not been completely developed yet because of the strike, which ended last week. Hazel's future is uncertain.

"I am not very sure about what's going to happen yet," Walker said.

One thing she is sure about is that her Palma Ceia high school was not as exciting as the fictitious elite school in the show.

"They are sort of similar in a sense that there is always something to gossip about, there is always somebody that is doing something risque or chilly or whatever," she said.

Walker started her performing career during her teen years in a pop band called the S*coolgirlz. At first, she was determined to pursue a career in music, but a couple of acting auditions in New York changed her ambition.

"I really discovered that I loved it and that it was something that I could really see myself being passionate about," she said.

In the past couple of years, Walker has had a variety of bit parts, mostly on TV shows. She has appeared on an episode of The Guiding Light, as well as Law and Order, a TV show she called "the gate into the acting world."

She was in Zip, a TV pilot for NBC that did not get picked up. She also had a major role in an independent film, Wherever You Are, which is making the rounds at film festivals. And she plays a small part, as an Upper East Side waitress, in the upcoming Sex and the City: The Movie.

Walker, who also works part time as a server in a restaurant, is relieved by the end of the writers' strike. Fewer new shows meant fewer opportunities to audition for potential jobs.

"It's a constant struggle with people in this business," said her mother, whom Walker calls every time she is inclined to give up and move back to Tampa. Mom tells her to keep trying.

"It's very, very difficult, but it's her dream and it's what she truly believes she is here to do," her mother said.

However, the cub actress usually keeps a positive attitude.

"I've never heard of any overnight success," she said. "This business is all about rejection; you can't take anything personally."

Walker misses her family and friends here. It was difficult to meet people her age when she first moved to New York, she said. Eventually, she formed bonds with the girls she kept bumping into at auditions.

"You can't live in a town as crazy as New York without having some good solid friendships around you," her mother said.

Friends are her main source of companionship. For now, there is no man in her life.

"I am 21, I am young and single and living in New York and loving life. I don't need a boyfriend right now," she said.

Someday, she hopes to have a great career in show business but hopes to stay under the radar, to an extent.

She doesn't want to get so famous that paparazzi snap her picture "coming out of Starbucks with a latte."

Alessandra Da Pra can be reached at adapra@sptimes.com or 813 226-3434.

Dreama Walker

Age: 21

Native: South Tampa

New digs: New York City

Claim to fame: A role on the hit CW series Gossip Girls as Hazel

On the side: A restaurant server

Good news: The writers strike is over.

Regrets: Missing family and friends in South Tampa

High school: Walker says Plant High wasn't as exciting as her current fictitious prep school. Still, she says, "They are sort of similar in a sense that there is always something to gossip about."

[Last modified February 26, 2008, 11:53:53]


Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT