When Chelsea Settles premieres tonight (October 11) at 11/10c, the world will get a new sort of heroine: a small town girl with big city dreams who had the courage to change everything.
Leaving her boyfriend and her sick mother back East, Chelsea moved across the country to Los Angeles to pursue a career in fashion--a particularly tough line of work for any 24-year old woman. It's an especially tricky industry for Chelsea, who weighed 324 pounds at the start of her journey. Channeling the confidence of Kim Kardashian (one of her idols), she soon learned that getting in shape was only the beginning of a transformation that would take hold from the inside out.
Act: Having learned to approach health and fitness with patience, have you been able to bring that "slowly but surely" philosophy into other areas of who you are, making changes little by little?
Chelsea: Before, with the weight loss, I would go on tons of diets and lose 10 pounds and wouldn't see a difference. It took a while to get up to 324 pounds and it took a while to get so isolated and in my head in self-consciousness and fear. ... I'm a work in progress, but now I have the courage and confidence and know it's going to come one day.
They say, "Wherever you go, there you are." Was there any part of you that thought a big cross-country move to LA might "fix" the things you'd been struggling with at home?
Once I got there, I thought there'd be a red carpet rollout and a new person and glitter everywhere, that I'd transform into a mini Kim Kardashian! That definitely wasn't the case. [laughs] I found out that it was a journey of self-discovery. ... I've found out that I'm not going to be Kim Kardashian, but now I want to be comfortable in my own skin. I'm finding out how happy I am to be Chelsea.
It must have been very difficult leaving your mother. How did you handle that?
It was awful leaving her! It was the most painful part of it all, because I wasn't there to look after her and see what goes on. We're taking it day by day. Her journey is documented in the show, but it's still in progress. Because I've changed so much, I really want to change her lifestyle and get her up and moving out of the house.
What's your style like?
Vivian Westwood is my favorite! I love Betsy Johnson, girly pieces. I don't think my style is one thing. I switch it up — girly, nerdy, edgy.
Any tips to other independent young people who are scared to leave familiar people, places and things so they can try something new?
It's really hard to leave behind everything you've ever known, but at some point in your life, you have to find the courage to find your own story. That's the power of being an individual and doing new things. It can be any kind of dream or goal. I believe that 100 percent.
I put my dreams on hold for so long and I had to go after them no matter what the outcome was in this situation — at least to see what was out there instead of wondering what I could have made of myself.
And if people start looking to you as a role model ... ?
This is such a whirlwind, something I never thought in a million years would happen! I have no problem being a role model. I didn't have anyone like myself to look up to. We all don't look the same, we need to have someone who is the average person. That's a title I'm willing to wear.