I was hoping this would happen.
A few days after asking, “Who is the woman in yellow?,” in the headline of my last post on The Masked Singer, regarding a particularly spirited audience member, I received a comment on my most recent Instagram post. “Pssst,” it read. “I’m the Girl in the Yellow Dress from the Masked Singer.” The profile belonged to one Valerie Sebestyen, whose bio lists the following: “Photographer•Shamanic Practitioner•Reiki master attuned•Movement Medicine @Butiyoga •Horses•Hooping•Harp• Conscious Living•Nature•Artist.” All of this makes sense to me. Naturally, I asked her if we could chat.
Sebestyen, 27, appeared on the fever dream-cum-singing competition during her two-month stint trying “the L.A. thing” that she embarked on eight months ago. She sold her house in Oklahoma and stayed in Airbnbs and/or the couches of new associates while she took auditions via the L.A. Casting website. She says that during those two months, she landed gigs like a G-Eazy video, a Marlboro campaign, and, of course, The Masked Singer, but her dreams were derailed when her car was totaled. That accident and her inability to find a permanent residency forced her to move back to Oklahoma about six months ago. There she is currently doing photography (weddings and such), teaching yoga, and learning to play the harp as fast as she can. “[I’m] hoping that’s something that will help me on my journey to L.A., I’m like, ‘All right I’ll be a master harp player,’” she told Jezebel by phone Monday.
In addition to her hopes and dreams, she discussed her time on The Masked Singer with me, almost certainly her biggest fan and the complete stranger who is most curious about what makes her tick. An edited and condensed transcription of our conversation follows.
JEZEBEL: What do you make of being so prominently featured on this show?
VALERIE SEBESTYEN: Do you follow numerology at all?
It’s my archetype. I have a lot of fives in my name. That [means] people are drawn to you, you’re magnetic, being in the limelight, actors, actresses, leaders, speakers, teachers… I have the archetype of all of those things. So it’s just kind of who I am. But I’m a nature person. I’m a total natural girl. I can play a million different roles. I’m a chameleon in that way.
How is it that you came to be an audience member of this show?
L.A. Casting. When I was little, I always wanted to perform. I always loved dancing and being onstage. Since I was pressured to get an education and a “real person’s job,” I just put all my focus into photography. I was in high school then. My business just kept growing and growing.
Anything I submitted [for on L.A. Casting] I got an audition for 10 minutes later. I’m not shy. I’m outspoken. I can shape shift. If you saw my photo portfolio, I can make myself look a million different ways and I think that’s also really “sellable.”
What was it like to actually film this show? Take me through your day, if you would.
I’m not sure how much I can say about it, but… They just pick people that they know are actually going to engage. I’m always a person that will engage with anything because I find joy in all situations and all types of people and all walks of life. All types of music. I’m just a joyful person. I think that’s hard to find in L.A. I explain it to people [like this]: I felt like a dolphin in a shark tank.
The show was really, really fun. I love Nick Cannon and Robin Thicke. I was doing hip hop dance recitals to their music at one point and now I’m right here with them. You see that people are just people. At the end of the day, recognizing that and treating humans like humans is generally what pulls you further along in life.
Did they make you sign an NDA?
I signed something at the beginning. I honestly didn’t read through it. No one really did.
I wonder why you’re reluctant to talk much about the production.
Because I don’t know or remember what I signed.
Were the reactions caught on the show your legitimate reactions to what you were seeing?
You were that amused?
Yes! A hundred percent. Ever since I was young, teachers in middle school would be like, “What is she on?,” because I would be, like, skipping down the hallways, like, “Valerie, Valerah, dah-dah-dah.” I’ve always been a character. That’s generally how I show up for life. And the costumes and everything they made them do, it was crazy! I don’t know if they showed this, I don’t know if they will, but we did a dance contest and one person from each quadrant was chosen and I was chosen from mine. And I almost fell on my ass because I was wearing heels as soon as I went onstage. It was really amusing and I just loved all of it.
How many episodes did you watch being taped?
I don’t know. I actually legitimately don’t know.
More than two?
Were the reactions that they showed your actual reactions to those moments or were they cut in through the magic of editing?
I haven’t actually watched the show. I don’t do TV. I never have. When I was young, I played outside or was at the stable, cleaning up horse shit, riding horses. As I’m older, I’m either at the barn, or in yoga, or in nature with my dog. I have no idea how it ended up.
Did you have the sense that you were experiencing something that was surreal?
No, ‘cause that’s just how L.A. is. In Oklahoma, I hang out around our drag strip a lot. And as a photographer, I’m well traveled and I’ve seen a lot of things. There’s not really shock factor for me. I’m just like, “Okay, everyone creates differently.” I always appreciate how people arrive at whatever they arrive at.
Plus, if you go back into humans from the beginning and tribes and stuff, [the costumes the singers wear are] almost like a battle outfit or something, but you want to be showy for…whatever you’re representing. I always appreciate some primal, tribal vibe or, like, Viking. I don’t know, I always have an appreciation for that. It’s part of our nature. I see it and I’m like, “That’s marketing on a really deep, ancient, primal feeling internally.”
You went to L.A. to do the L.A. thing, you’re back in Oklahoma, and now you’re planning on going back to redo the L.A. thing?
Potentially. We can have our plans, but the universe has her plans. But I also know divine timing. I know my time out there is not done. I definitely know that. I know I’m going to be living out there or being out there for a good length of time. I definitely know that. I have a strong meditation practice and I always journal things and it’s been pretty accurate since I was five or six. Things that I wrote then happened when I was in high school. Sometimes when you wish for something, it’s already done, it’s just not at this current progression in your life. You just have to wait for things to cook in the oven before you take them out.