Not just any “actor slash singer,” Marla Sokoloff is taking over Hollywood one guitar strap at a time.
Marla Sokoloff may only be 26, but she already has an impressive acting career under her belt—from Stefanie Tanner’s best friend Gia on Full House (when she was only 13) to a more serious role on The Practice to a stint as a babysitter on Desperate Housewives and most recently as Alice on ABC’s comedy Big Day. But Marla has more than just acting roles up her sleeve.
While we have seen many actors come and go the musician route and ultimately fail to be successful, Marla is taking charge and doing it her own way. “I actually started playing music way before I became an actress,” says Marla. “It’s always been a passion of mine. I started playing guitar at 12 and then started writing songs. My goal is not to solely be an actress or musician; I love both and want to continue doing both.”
Those years of hard work paid off, and her many talents are finally being recognized. She recently released her first album, Grateful. Marla turns out deeply personal songs on guitar with a catchy vibe that will grab anyone’s ear. Her lyrics are personal, yet the themes of love and growing up are so universal that anyone can relate.
When it came to getting her music out to the public, Marla didn’t run to the powers that be (i.e. Hollywood execs) and say, “I want to make an album, get me on TRL!” Instead, she kept on writing her music, finally decided she wanted to make a record, and did. And then she decided that she would release it just like any other hardworking, new to-the-scene performer would: the grassroots way.
But her acting career— another one of her passions—competed fiercely for her time. “I got signed to a record deal, so that really forced me to dedicate a lot more time to songwriting. The record wound up taking almost four years because I had to keep stopping to [act],” she says.
It’s often a struggle for performers originally known as actresses to be credited as legit musicians. “It’s definitely a double-edged sword,” Marla says. “I’m sure people think it’s a joke or that I’m trying to be like every other actress out there.”
Marla claims that it can be difficult to maintain both an acting career and a music career (and a “life” in there somewhere, too). “Sometimes music has to be put on the back burner if I’m filming a 14-hour day. That bums me out. But there are times where I won’t film for months, and I get more time to write and play shows,” she says. And when asked if she would incorporate her songs into her acting career: “If the role called for it and it was right—sure!”
Marla is also a bit of an entrepreneur. She has a guitar strap line called “Kiss My Axe,” which features creative designs and embellishments on guitar straps. “There is a HUGE lack of cute guitar straps out there. I love the idea of customizing each strap in order to help bring out the artist’s style and sound. The name came to me while I was sleeping. I literally woke up at 3 a.m. saying ‘Kiss My Axe!’” she says. Even stars such as Lisa Loeb and Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo have grabbed up some of Marla’s designs.
But with such a busy schedule, Marla still maintains her Jewish roots and even starred in a movie about a Jewish family. In this indie film, called The Tollbooth, she plays Sarabeth Cohen, a painter in her first year out of art school. It’s a comic examination of a Jewish family with parents committed to tradition and sisters who inevitably question it.
Unlike the character she portrays, Marla says that her Jewish upbringing was “very informal.” Though Marla never became a bat mitzvah due to her hectic work schedule, she says her own mother did not have hers until she was 40 years old. Marla says that she would still not rule out having her own.
And what are the chances she’ll sing at your bar or bat mitzvah party? She’s never been invited to perform, but should the opportunity arise: “Sure! Why not?” Or for a good party alternative, bring along her album Grateful!
Having a music career has been Marla’s goal since she was a teenager. Her advice to other teens seeking to follow a dream: “Learn as much as you can about the things you are passionate about. If it’s music, pick up an instrument and practice a ton,” she says.
Where does Marla see her music career down the road? “Just to be able to play live with my band—that is the most fun thing for me. I look forward to it and really enjoy every minute that I’m up there. I also love the process of writing and recording,” she says. We hope to see many more albums to come.
NICOLE is a freelance journalist from Connecticut who once got mad at Marla Sokoloff’s character Gia on Full House for being mean to Stefanie Tanner. Now she just really enjoys her music.
This article was reprinted from JVibe magazine, the magazine for Jewish teens www.jvibe.com.
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