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Spotlight: The tale of two sisters

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Submitted Photo Mia Huddleston, left, and her sister Paige Huddleston united in Los Angeles, California to pursue careers in film and culinary industry.

Mia and Paige Huddleston’s goals lead to California

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The sisters, Mia Huddleston and Paige Huddleston, are Goddard High School graduates. Mia Huddleston is class 2020 and Paige Huddleston is class 2018. The sisters, who consider themselves best friends, just moved together to Los Angeles, California to follow their dreams.

Paige Huddleston is an award-winning actress who — while still in school — won Best Actor at New Mexico’s 48HFP Filmapalooza for the short film, “Nadi,” made by students of the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell film program, under guidance of producers Lisa Hobbs and Marian Hobbs. The film qualified to enter internationally in Paris, France, where it won further awards.

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For many young people, the dream to become an actor may stay only a dream. After all, few know that it takes a lot of work, education and dedication to have a chance in the film industry. With the pandemic shutting down live events and film projects worldwide, it is even tougher today. This, however, did not stop Paige Huddleston who has the right attitude to pursue her goals. In a phone interview from Los Angeles, Paige Huddleston and Mia Huddleston — who has a different creative career planned in the culinary arts — talked about their first impressions and plans.

Paige Huddleston was the first to move to Los Angeles. “I just got my associate’s degree from the American Academic Arts in West Hollywood,” she said. “I have been taking auditioning classes to help me get prepared for auditions and to network. I am going to work on myself and auditioning and my technique and start getting out there.”

Asked how difficult it is during restrictions because of COVID-19, Paige Huddleston said, “Yes, it really is. There are not a lot of opportunities to audition in person, but there are a lot of opportunities like on backstage.com and there are offers for the alumni of the American Academy, I get a lot of opportunities there. I get to prepare for it and think about my future. At the moment, there are not a lot of opportunities, but the more prepared I am, the better.”

Growing up in Roswell and being involved in the local film scene did help Paige Huddleston, she said. “It was really important because in Roswell, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to get out there and perform; and so I took anything I could get, and performing, I really love it. It is very important to take what you can and to just perform any way you can. My family was really super supportive of me and I am so grateful to have them in my life because they support me in whatever endeavors I do and I made some great friends. They also helped me with my confidence and performing. And my family would listen and just be there whatever I do. That gave me the confidence to get out there and go to a big city,” Paige Huddleston said.

Asked what she misses from Roswell, Paige Huddleston said, “I miss the tight-knit community. I miss just being able to walk down the street and just recognize someone I know. I met some really sweet people. I miss the smallness, honestly.”

Mia Huddleston had missed being apart from her sister. She just arrived, but she said she already misses one thing: “Green chile,” she said and chuckled.

Mia Huddleston’s passion since she was a child was culinary arts. “I’ve always liked to bake, specifically,” she said. “That is one of the main things that my dad and I did — cooking dinner together every night. My mom has a huge sweet tooth so she is constantly asking me for sweets, like when she finds a recipe, she tells me she’s hungry for some cookies. She will send me a recipe on my Facebook. That’s how she tells me she wants cookies.

“It has always been cooking and baking; it’s something that has brought me a lot of peace and happiness and it’s just common sense to make it into a career because I’ve always wanted to do something that I loved and made me happy. That was my main thing of choosing culinary school because it is a thing I’ll never stop enjoying, so why not make some money off of it,” Mia Huddleston said and laughed.

Asked how she planned on pursuing her career dream, Mia Huddleston said, “I honestly think going to school is the easiest way to prepare myself for a culinary career. I don’t think it’s necessary for everybody to go to college. I think a lot of people thrive in their careers without college or schooling. But my school is very, very focused on career-based training, it is a vocational school. Essentially, my entire education will be preparing me for joining the workforce, as well as I am taking some business classes there that should help me if I choose to open my own business. I feel that will help prepare (me) because I will be taught by people who have done it before me.”

Asked how she chose the school, Mia Huddleston had very clear ideas on what she was looking for. “There were a few options I was considering,” she said. “I really wanted to move to California and I wanted to be close to Paige because we are extremely close. We’ve always been best friends, so I didn’t want to be far away from her. When she was gone, I really missed her. She wants to stay close to L.A. to work there and audition there, so the other options were in the Napa Valley or northern California, but they were too far for Paige, so one of the main reasons I chose the Institute of Culinary Education was because of the proximity to my sister, but the more I’ve been looking into it and comparing it to other schools, I just really like the course plan and I really like the focus on entering the work force. Their employment rate is like 98% and that is what I am looking for. I am wanting something that is going to get me a job.”

Mia Huddleston started her pastry classes Aug. 21 and her business classes started on Aug. 26.

Asking both sisters what their ultimate goals are, once the pandemic is over, Paige Huddleston answers first. “Me, honestly, I want to have steady work because acting and performing is my passion, and I can’t ever see that passion dwindling. Just to be able to have opportunities to put myself out there and to do what I love. No matter what it is. I want to do film and television, but theater has such a big place in my heart. Just finding the time to balance it is where my heart really lies.”

Mia Huddleston is only at the beginning of her education, but just as her sister, she is driven to achieve a fulfilling career.

“I want to own a business or bakery, but before that, I want to travel,” she said. “I found a lot of inspiration from Chef Samin Nosrat. She wrote a book and it is like my bible. She traveled to Italy after culinary school and absorbed all the culture and material and learning, and then she turned it into knowledge and cooking. That’s what I want to do in my career. Before I settle down, I want to be able to go around the world and learn about different cultures and their food as I can and then bring that back to America and make just a good food for people.”

Asked if she prefers one country to another, Mia Huddleston said, “I have no cuisine I am specifically attached to. Actually, one of the things I really enjoy about the school and their philosophy, that they really focus to fight the Eurocentric focus on food that a lot of schools have, with focusing on Italian or French food and not highlighting Spanish or more Latin/Asian food. I don’t know what kind of food I’ll be interested in learning about until I finish school because our view, especially in baking, is so Eurocentric focused on European pastry. My main goal, the urge I feel to do, is to make good food that people enjoy. I want to have a place where people can go and get delicious and really well made food.”

Asked if there are plans to return to Roswell, Mia Huddleston answers for both sisters, “It will depend how my future goes and how it looks like. Honestly, I love Roswell and it will always be in our heart because we grew up there, and it’s where our entire lives were shaped essentially, but depending how much I miss it after California, I am not sure I’ll ever move back full-time.”