The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Zeroed In: Carly Schroeder, #Me2A

Photos by Mark Saint

Few Would Voluntarily Give Up a Successful Acting Career to Go Serve Our Country, But Carly Schroeder isn’t About to Put Selling Out to Hollywood Politics Ahead of Patriotism

Hollywood has undoubtedly shaped our values in some ways and even influenced our career paths. Once actors portray an individual we worship or create a movie we’re enamored with, they’re given near God-like status in our culture and often use that power to leverage causes they feel are justified — sometimes at the expense of our rights. Those in the industry who don’t march in that parade have quickly found themselves blacklisted.

Nowadays it seems celebrities are lining up around the equator to take a swipe at the Second Amendment. According to a documentary on the making of Aliens, Sigourney Weaver said, “It’s actually hard for me morally to justify being in a film with so many guns. I just find it very upsetting … I give money to anti-gun legislation.” Apparently droves of Hollywood’s elite think it’s OK to portray gun-wielding heroes on the screen and collect a paycheck pretending to be what they all seem to hate, yet they vilify the firearms industry, as part of the clique that keeps them employed.

Carly Schroeder has practically grown up in Tinseltown. After 25 years of both starring and supporting roles on television and the silver screen, she decided to pursue something else. Not for more money, not for publicity, and not because she had no other options. She did it solely because she wanted to do something that mattered and was an extension of her values. What does Hollywood have to say about this? Who cares?

Lizzie McGuire premiere.

When we sat down to interview Carly in February of this year at a diner in Hollywood, we thought she’d show up late wearing dark glasses, pretend to be interested in our questions while she was thumbing through her cell phone, and act like talking to a lowly gun publication was beneath her — that wasn’t the case. She left us wondering how we could bottle and sell her integrity. She’s a practical, hard-working Midwestern girl who’s not about to sell her soul to make a few bucks the way many of her Hollywood contemporaries have. Carly felt that joining the U.S. Army was a far more glamorous career path, and after hearing what influenced her decision, we couldn’t agree more.

RECOIL: How did you first get into acting?
Carly Schroeder: I first got into acting when I was 2 or 3. My mom had me start doing commercials and print work. We lived in Indiana, so I would go to Chicago and do that. Basically, my mom wanted me to do it because it’d help pay for college. Then I did a Shake ’n Bake commercial when I was 5 and the guy who played my dad on the soap opera saw me and said, “Find that girl, we want her to play my daughter.” So they flew me out to California, and I ended up getting a contract on a soap opera, so my whole family moved out here to support me.

Cast of Firewall. Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, and Richard Loncraine.

What soap opera was it?
CS: It was General Hospital and Port Charles. They were sister soap operas.

What roles are you the proudest of?
Mean Creek or Gracie. Mean Creek was my first film; I went to Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival with it. It won a lot of awards. We won at the Independent Spirit Awards. Gracie was a very empowering film. I actually trained for a couple months to play a soccer player and got to work with some amazing people. I played Elisabeth Shue in the movie. She’s still an incredible athlete and is pretty amazing.

On the set of One of Us, a cult movie with director
Blake Reigle.

So now you want to leave it all behind and go into officer candidate school? What were the key precipitators of that decision?
I started training for action roles, but once I started actually immersing myself in the firearms world and educating myself, my mindset really evolved. My opinions changed, and I become vocally pro-2A. And of course there was some backlash to coming out pro-2A, but my mom always told me to have a backup plan, because you never know if you’re ever going to get another job in Hollywood — it’s an incredibly unpredictable industry. One minute they love you and the next they’re celebrating your downfall, so that was one of the reasons why I went to college and I’m going into the military now. I want to learn skills that’ll be useful to me when I start getting wrinkles and my value to Hollywood has expired. Versatility is incredibly empowering. Recently, I watched my little brother become a Marine, and I couldn’t be prouder. He overcame a bunch of personal obstacles as a child to become a really incredible man who knows his self-worth, so I’m really proud of his choice to serve his country, and I think that inspired me a lot.

Do you feel like the flashpoint for the industry pulling away from you was your decision to immerse yourself into more 2A type of training?
People are OK with it if I was training for a role and then, as soon as I started training because I enjoyed it, I definitely noticed a shift in the support. People started saying things like, if I’m pro-guns, then I’m against children’s safety. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The principal public safety concerns are suicides, illegally owned handguns, but that isn’t what Hollywood and the media illustrates. They prey on fear to push uneducated propaganda, as do so many lawmakers, especially in California. I just really think that the change was when I started enjoying firearms.

So you noticed sort of a shift in the jobs you were offered or lack thereof after you become vocal in your support of 2A?
I would say there was more of a lack of job availability.

What reasons did you get for that? Was anyone ever forthright about it?
There were no reasons, it was ignored. It was more skirted and communications stopped. Roles stopped coming in. Every once in a while I’d get an email for an audition, and it would involve nudity or something, which I’ve always voiced I wasn’t interested in. As soon as it started going up on my IMDb and I started posting about it on Instagram, all of a sudden I’d get negative emails and direct messages from people saying that I was out of my mind or I must have voted Trump or I was completely irrational. It was just all of this nonsense and it started with me training for a film. As soon as I started forming my own opinions, all of a sudden people didn’t care if it was for a film or not. It was just bad, and I became taboo.

Firewall premiere at 16 years old.

Were the people vocalizing their disdain for your decisions people you knew?
It was fans. It was like I was this girl who started on Lizzie McGuire, and all of a sudden I was this pro 2A person, and it was offensive and triggering people. It’s very interesting how someone else’s life can be so offensive to others.

How did you go about deciding which military branch to enter?
I talked to all the different branches. I talked to the Navy, and since I got a 92 on my ASVAB [Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery], all they wanted to do was talk about the nuclear sub program and how much money I could make, which didn’t interest me. I could never get ahold of the Coast Guard. Those guys are either really busy or always on vacation. The Air Force was relatively arrogant and told me I’d have to wait almost two years to join the officer program. At 28, the idea of waiting just wasn’t an option for me. Then I was talking to the Army recruiters, and they were asking me, “Why should we let you join the family?” With everyone else it was like a sales pitch that they’d practiced a thousand times, and the Army just genuinely wanted to know if I was good enough to be one of the leaders of a team. The cool thing about the Army was they had more MOS [military occupational specialties] options than the Marines, so ultimately the Army just felt right.

Training with Telluric Group for an Aimpoint class. Photo by Candice Horner.

What are your military career intentions with the Army?
I’d say learning as much as I can. I want to accept all opportunities available to me. I was talking with my recruiters the other day and they were encouraging me to go Airborne, so I’m really excited about that. I want to challenge my current opinions and continue to evolve. I’d like to become a leader that others can respect and rely on; I think that’s really important, and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to empower others. I’m very interested in military intelligence. I’m also interested in PsyOps, but I have a feeling I’m going to change jobs a couple times once I’m in and see what’s out there. They’re giving me an opportunity to train with them for free, and I’m more than happy to take them up on that. Serving my country will give my voice more validity. I can better serve and advocate for veterans once I’m part of their community. The military is a family, and family always has each other’s backs.

Your father was a Green Beret, correct?
Yep, he trained as a Green Beret medic.

When you announced your decision to enter the Army, what was his reaction?
My dad was really excited. He’ll try and play it cool, but he was really excited. Both of my parents have told me on multiple occasions that Hollywood isn’t a real job. I think they’re happy that I’m going into the military and have a “real job.” I’m surprised my dad didn’t push me to go into the Army, but he encouraged me to look at every option and figure out which branch was best for me. My brother’s a Marine and my papa was a Green Beret, there’s no way I’m going to let the boys have all the fun.

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions that people have about show business before they get into it?
A lot of people mistakenly believe it’s glamorous. It is about 3 percent of the time, and the other 97 percent is side jobs to pay the bills, stalkers, fake friends, jealous people making comments on social media, and people just constantly trying to chip away at you so they have another story of another child actor gone bad.

It’s interesting that you say that, because so many child actors have gone bad. What do you think the biggest cause of that is?
I can speculate and say it’s anxiety, it’s eating disorders, drugs. There’s a lot of different contributing factors that people don’t tend to see, but I think the biggest one would probably be not having a solid support system at home.

What do you think it takes to succeed in that industry, especially if you’re a young actor?
I have a very different definition of success than most people. I thankfully have a family that taught me that self-worth isn’t defined by my career or how many followers I have. I think that a lot of people who try to succeed in this industry are going to be left wanting for a livable wage, fame, or whatever they’re looking for. Very few people actually get it.

For those who do get to that higher level of success, what do you think it took for them to get there?
I’m not going to take away from their success by sniping at them or saying it’s just luck. A lot of them did work really hard. I think many of them went through a lot and it’s hard to judge the 3 percent; however, I do know a lot of people who get roles because they’re willing to compromise on their values. They’re willing to take off their clothes or be a puppet and say what they’re told to say, but hey, that’s how it works, so if that’s what you’re willing to do then Hollywood is kind of based on self-preservation. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to getting away from. The Army is built as a team, so it’ll be a nice change [laughs].

As you got older, how often would you say you were propositioned with things like nude scenes during auditions or asked to do things you were uncomfortable with?
Luckily for me, I had an agent and manager who were fully aware that nudity was not even negotiable, so I probably experienced a lot less pressure than most actresses do. For the most part, they’d go through my scripts ahead of me and flag the ones that wouldn’t be appropriate for me, but I’ve gone to auditions where they’ve handed me lingerie or a swimsuit and wanted me to audition in that. This industry is more than happy to take advantage of you if you’re willing and I know plenty of girls who live with regret because of their choices. I just refused to be one of them.

If people share your views on 2A or anything else generally regarded as unpopular in the industry, do you think they should just keep their mouths shut about it to earn a paycheck or should they openly express how they feel, fight for what they want, and hope they can maintain their career?
I’ve learned that they really don’t care about your opinion. For the most part, if you disagree with them you just won’t get called back. If you want to work in the industry then keep your mouth shut, smile, nod, and just agree. It’s easier to survive that way.

Carly and her best friend hiked Mirador Las Torres National Park in Patagonia.

Do you think if someone like Sigourney Weaver or Meryl Streep stood up for something regarded as unpopular in the industry that they’d be subjected to that kind of alienation or are they established enough that it wouldn’t affect them?
Since I’ve never reached that status I don’t know for sure. I’d like to think that when you’ve reached that level you have a platform and are able to speak your own mind and have an opinion. People are always going to make comments about your opinion and tend to insult your IQ if you have an opinion opposite of theirs, but I would hope that there’s some level of celebrity that you’re allowed to speak your mind.

Why do you think so many in that business condemn firearms?
I think that there’s the media propaganda, and it’s definitely emotion based. There’s skewed data for political gain, and if you don’t educate yourself enough to know the facts then people will think for you. In Hollywood, a lot of people are completely happy letting others think for them.

Have you seen any outright examples of people being pressured to promote gun control or is it more of an unspoken understanding?
It’s more unspoken or it’ll be edited out. I’ve had interviews where different clips were taken and others were left out to better narrate a story of their choosing.

Do you think people who are vocally opposed to firearms in Hollywood genuinely feel that way or are they just keeping up appearances and “following the leader?”
I really don’t know. I think they’re entitled to their opinion. I just hope that their opinion is based on facts and is well educated.

How do you think you could compare how women are treated in the entertainment industry versus the firearms industry?
I’ve spent most of my life being stereotyped and getting involved in the firearms industry wasn’t any different. Somehow I managed to get roped into the gun bunny category and started receiving comments like, “Don’t hurt yourself, honey” or “Is there a kitchen at the end of the range?” Once I joined the Army, things really didn’t change either. I get comments like, “You’re just an Army THOT,” “Women ruin the Army,” and “You’ll spend most of your time on your knees.” Had I not grown up in Hollywood, some of these sexist comments would’ve probably really hurt my feelings, but thankfully they don’t. I’ve also learned that alpha males are really supportive, and it’s these beta males and gamers calling me a gun bunny or THOT. I’m not really concerned with their opinions anyway and love being underestimated.

Grey Glacier, Patagonia.

How does Carly Schroeder define the term “alpha male?”
If you have to say you’re an alpha male, you’re not an alpha male. I’ve been around a lot of alpha males and I’ve been around a lot of beta males, and the alpha males are a pleasure to be around. I’ve worked with SWAT teams and Special Forces from every branch of the military — they’re just a different breed.

Do you think you’ll ever come back to Hollywood after you’ve completed your military career?
I would like to return to Hollywood as long as I have a role of substance. I’m so tired of being the girl next door or the fragile character that needs to be rescued.

What would your advice be to the aspiring actor or actress looking to enter the business?
Have a backup plan. I don’t mean that in a negative way. You should try, but it’s a brutal industry. Every single girl I meet is like, “I moved to California to become an actress.” Or they’ve had a few background roles and are like, “I’m an actress!” and put it on their Instagram. Educate yourself and have a job that you can fall back on when your looks start to fade. Hollywood has an expiration date, especially for females.

Have you seen examples of people being treated unfairly because they wouldn’t go along with something that compromised their values?
Before I turned 18, my mom was always by my side because I frequently received advances from individuals more than double my age. I’ve lost dozens of roles because I was unwilling to take my clothes off, and I continually hear things like, “This could advance your career,” or “It’s a really good role,” or “It’s tasteful nudity.” That might convince someone, and if a girl wants to take her clothes off, great. But I’ve been on set where it’s a bait and switch, and they’re like, “We only have this underwear for you to wear,” and it’s like some tiny little thong and I end up wearing my own wardrobe because I refuse to wear theirs. It’s not uncommon, and I’ve spoken to a lot of female actresses who were on the same set with me and told them they didn’t have to take their top off if they didn’t want to. There’s no reason to compromise your values so that you can get a little bit ahead.

How did your mother become aware of advances from older men?
I had stalkers from a very early age, and I think that’s where she first noticed it. My parents very much sheltered me, so I wasn’t really aware of this stuff until I was like 15. I started complaining and demanding to know why I couldn’t go with my friends to the mall or ride bikes outside of my neighborhood. My mom finally sat me down and told me I’d had stalkers since I was about 8 and she’d had to go to court to get restraining orders. These men were in their 40s and thought they were going to marry me. There’s a dark side to Hollywood that people don’t know about, and it’s usually because Hollywood hides it.

Why do you think they hide it?
Because it’s supposed to be glamorous and wonderful, but a lot of Hollywood is fake. Speaking of which, there’s a lot of guys who’ll do roles as extras in military films and get a couple pictures in a wartime scenario, and then they’ll run around with dog tags and act like they’ve been in the military. Hollywood is full of fakes.

Do you think the #MeToo movement will help stop any of that misbehaving and abuse of power?
It was immoral to harass and illegal to sexually assault women before the #MeToo movement, and that didn’t stop them. I think it’s a good thing for those who’ve been abused to share their stories if they choose to do so, but I don’t think that the #MeToo movement will change what happens behind closed doors, especially in Hollywood. Those with power are very good at silencing those who don’t. Hollywood is a target-rich environment for predators.

After you were made aware of these stalking incidents, how did that change your behavior and how you saw the world?
It felt awful knowing that my parents were protecting me and I was acting like a brat trying to play with my friends. My parents taught me that you can’t put everything out on social media and if I wanted to post something, it had to be a couple days after I’d done it. I learned how to better protect myself. I definitely think it changed my view of Hollywood and how I interact with people, because I started being more aware. I had pictures of the people who’d stalked me, so I would scan the crowd and look for their faces. My campus security knew about my stalker, and I tended to hang out with guys more. I felt more protected in a group, especially with males. Now that I got into firearms, if I didn’t live in California I’d carry a firearm, but I do carry a knife with me everywhere.

Are you aware of other celebrities who’ve become 2A supporters, but have chosen not to vocalize it?
Yes. I wouldn’t want to out them, but I’m familiar with quite a few celebrities who carry guns on them as a form of protection, especially from stalkers. These people have mental health issues, fantasies where they’re married to you or they want to marry you, and they want to harm you or the person you’re with because they’re standing in the way of them being together with you. You can’t rationalize with crazy. The best you can do is be prepared and ready to protect yourself. I fully support people carrying to protect themselves.

What do you think it’d take for more people to come out and vocalize their position about firearms like they did with the #MeToo movement and stand up against something that was wrong?
I think if there was a large enough audience and they received enough support for them to come out and say enough is enough. For celebrities to come out as pro-gun, I think Hollywood would need to stop being so political, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Although, shows like SEAL Team that employ veterans and have people who are advising on the show allows other people in Hollywood to become more educated and informed about the firearms industry, and they can use their celebrity status to speak more intelligently about topics. I think shows like that are a step in the right direction.

Your generation gets a bad rap for being entitled, lazy, and impatient. Where do you think all that comes from?
My generation is lazy. Many are happier to let others do the work for them. They don’t do their own research and think that college is the only source of education, and it feeds their sense of superiority. They act on feelings rather than logic. There’s a serious lack of respect and personal responsibility in my generation. I think they get a bad rap because of their collective softness; people can no longer have a difference of opinion without their IQ being insulted, and if someone disagrees with them they somehow become triggered and need a safe place. It’s like political correctness is being wielded as a weapon. Individuality is being crushed by conformity. Many in my generation seek instant gratification and tend to go out drinking and partying when they have nothing to celebrate.

Would you say there’s been a degradation of patriotism in your generation?
I live in California and I’d definitely say there’s been a degradation of patriotism, but not just in my generation. I was raised with my dad putting our flag up every single morning before work and taking it down every day when he got home from work. I was raised to respect law enforcement and the military, and stand for the flag. It’s interesting to see how that’s shifted in my generation. I’m not quite sure why.

If you had three wishes for the future of this country, what would they be?
I would love for people to focus more on education. I would love for politicians to be held to a higher standard. And I would love for businesses to disregard their bottom line in favor of keeping the interests of their consumers as priority.

Carly Schroeder
Age: 28
Hometown: Valparaiso, Indiana
Favorite quote: “Your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
Favorite movie: Maleficent
Favorite Book: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
Role model: My family
Favorite firearm: Glock 19
Last meal request: Truffle gnocchi or cold pizza
Best advice you ever got about Hollywood: “Never take a role you wouldn’t want your granny to see.” – my momma
If you could have lunch with three people — living, dead, or fictitious — who would they be? My mom, dad, and little brother. There’s nobody I’d rather spend my time with more.
Pets: Shiba Inu named Jax
EDC: Microtech knife, lip balm, sunglasses, phone, and chocolate
Favorite word? Tasty
Least favorite word? No
What turns you on? Men, food, men with dogs, men with a sense of humor, men who bring me food, men who aren’t afraid to buy tampons, men who own more guns than me.
What turns you off? Men who skip leg day, yellow teeth, men who can only talk about sports.
What sound do you love? Thunderstorms
What sound do you hate? Whining
What is your favorite curse word? C*nt nugget or sh*tbird
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Park ranger
What profession would you not like to do? Parking enforcement
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? It’s taco Tuesday, girl!
Special thanks to Duane Buckner, Chip Lasky, and Don Edwards. They were supportive of me from the beginning. They taught me, trained me, wrote me letters of recommendation for OCS, and I’m gonna make them proud.

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