They say that parody is one of the sincerest forms of flattery. If that’s true, when it comes to the city of Los Angeles, Rory Uphold is one smitten kitten. She is the creative and comedic engines behind the web series Only in HelLA. Like Portlandia, Only in HelLA affectionately skewers many of the personality types and cultural trends that give LA it’s “on a planet of its own” reputation. Rory is an accomplished performer/director who, in addition to her career in entertainment and media, is extremely active in PATH, an LA-based organization to help the homeless transform their lives for the better. Living in an entertainment mecca like Los Angeles it’s hard to stay grounded, but Rory keeps herself centered by making sure she’s tracking personal goals alongside her professional ones. “I’m always working toward being better than I was last year,” she says. One of the ways she stays focused and energized working in the industry is by reminding herself to ease off expectations and let things unfold the way they are supposed to.
Photo by Sarah Barlow
If you could describe yourself in one hashtag, what would it be?
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
Kristen Beck. Kristen Beck has a Purple Heart and more courage than anyone I’ve ever met. After 20 years as a Navy SEAL, a member of DEVGRU and SEAL Team Six, Chris Beck came out as a trans woman. I encourage everyone I know to see her documentary, Lady Valor, on CNN when it comes out September 4th. I’ve never laughed more or cried harder. She is a true American hero and my inspiration and she rocks!
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
I want to be able to tell the stories that matter to me while simultaneously keeping a roof over my head. And I want to know that I’ve done something to help the next generation.
What are you most proud of?
What piece of advice changed your life?
Let go of that which does not serve you.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I honestly don’t know and I’m okay with that. I try really hard not to have expectations. That’s not to say I don’t make plans, I just try not to expect that those plans are ever going to work out in the way that I think they will.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
I don’t have a bucket list… is that bad??
Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?
My mother, hands down. I think we’re often influenced by those we respect or admire, and for me, my mother has always been someone I’ve looked up to. I want to take her strength, her intuition, and her empathy with me wherever I go. Ultimately, she's been a great role model, mother, and friend.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
Being honest in the face of fear. Revealing myself and making myself vulnerable is always scary, but it’s also brought me my greatest accomplishments. The first time I vividly remember doing this was when told my then-boyfriend that I loved him, and I had no idea if he would feel the same way. I remember being terrified. The first time I screened my film Safety in front of people I thought I was going to throw up because I was so nervous. Both of those things involved me revealing a part of myself without knowing what the reaction would be, and, coincidentally, both turned out to be positive. So, being myself in the face of fear and potential failure is the bravest thing I’ve done, and I’d be nowhere without that courage.
Why are you THAT GIRL?
Because I can be.