For 2003 marketing graduate Elisha Skorman (her adopted screen name), the dream was clear: “I knew from a young age I wanted to move to Los Angeles and pursue acting.” But the path didn’t start where you would expect it.
“I was really introverted growing up, I was shy,” said Skorman. “I was always hiding behind my mother’s legs.”
So, how does a modest youth go from using a maternal barrier to being nominated for Best Actress at the Madrid International Film Festival? In a word: persistence.
As a teen, Skorman began attending acting school in Austin and made appearances in several marketing campaigns in San Antonio, including a spot in the ubiquitous 1990s Taco Bell commercial “Taco Bell Has Done It Again.” These experiences laid the groundwork for Skorman as she received her first break.
“I was asked to be in a music video and the director needed me to cry,” shared Skorman. “I couldn’t just cry on command, so it took several takes and some coaching, but finally, I just let go. I screamed as loud as I could and the tears started coming down. I knew in that moment this is what I wanted to do.”
As any artisan can tell you, your calling doesn’t always pay the bills. While moonlighting as an actress, she worked part-time at a beauty salon and attended the University of Incarnate Word’s (UIW) H-E-B School of Business and Administration full-time. Long days and even longer nights finally paid off as Skorman crossed the stage with degree in hand, but the celebration was mixed; it was time to make decisions.
“My mom wanted me to stay in San Antonio, but I always knew I wanted to be in Los Angeles. As soon as I got my diploma, I packed my car and took off for the West Coast. I didn’t know anyone in the area, but I knew that’s where I belonged,” explained Skorman.
Although not a novice to the acting profession, Skorman struggled to find employment in her chosen career: “Everyday in LA was spent trying to find a job, any job. I had to make it happen though, so I took a job as a waitress with no experience whatsoever.”
As stated in many a career advice guide, Skorman “paid her dues” and in 2004 found herself attached to a talent agency, as she slowly crept into the industry. The same year, she landed a minor role in the comedy short “The Plight of Clownana,” subsequently leading to appearances on “The Young and the Restless,” “CSI: NY,” and “Dealership.” By 2012, Skorman had produced a lengthy portfolio as an actress, but her next project would also put her on the other side of the camera.
In her first visit back to UIW in over a decade, she reminisced about her experience as a Cardinal.
“I can’t believe how much the campus has changed since I was here. All these new buildings, but it still feels the same,” said Skorman, who came home to attend a screening of her new independent film, “Autumn Wanderer,” at the Blue Star Contemporary, which features Skorman alongside her husband Nathan Sutton.
Developed from a short story written by Sutton, “Autumn Wanderer” is a product of the couple’s independent production company, Mohawk Street Productions. Now as an executive producer, Skorman has come full circle from delivering SWOT analyses in the classroom to employing her education in social media strategy, public relations and selecting venues to promote the film.
“I wanted to get that edgy, hometown feel. We needed to pick a location that was outside of the box, so we laid out the opportunities and the threats and decided on (Blue Star) an art gallery that would attract an audience that would be interested in our film. We’re branding ourselves in order to retain a certain audience,” Skorman explained.
Skorman has played many roles, but her new position as marketing coordinator has allowed her to reflect on her classroom encounters, particularly her capstone project.
“Capstone was a really important part of my academic experience. The teamwork involved, strategizing to reach a solution; I definitely gained a lot of practical experience from the project,” Skorman elaborated.
Although Skorman took the road less traveled, the skills and knowledge gained from studying marketing at UIW have assisted her in following her passion. When asked to give advice to current and future Cardinals, Skorman reiterated a path of persistence: “Study hard, (UIW) will get you all the help you need to be successful. There’s no reason you can’t live your dream.”