Last week, I sat down in New York City with model-turned-rodeo queen Darcy LaPier, star of the new hit A&E reality series “Rodeo Girls.” Darcy has had an incredible career as a model, businesswoman, and now professional barrel racer. She has also been subjected to the wrath of tabloids as a result of a few high-profile marriages. On paper, she is truly a larger-than-life character. But in speaking with her, I found out that she has had major setbacks like anyone else, and her story is one of redemption and renewal. We spoke about the turning points in her career, dealing with “haters,” and we bonded over our mutual love of cool quotes!
How would you define your personal brand?
Integrity, hard-working, not bad to look at. Humor, I love a good joke, I take everything as a joke or make a joke out of it. I like to think I’m pretty tough. I think people will watch my show because I have an interesting life. What makes me interesting? Well, I’ve done things that most people are afraid to do, and I keep doing them. I’m very passionate about everything I do. I’ve taken on the projects I have because I care about them. I married who I married because I was very passionate about each one of them, and I love all three of them to this day.
What were the key moments in your life that led to where you are today?
Well, it’s two-fold. What led me to rodeo was I moved home to Oregon, my husband had passed away and I needed a change. I needed to heal. So I moved home and everyone gave me 6 months until I would move back to Los Angeles, because I’m an LA girl. I’ve spend a majority of my adult life there. LA is a very comfortable place to live, and moving back home was uncomfortable for me. But, what I was looking for was to be outside, to be in nature and with animals. I needed that. So I went to a rodeo with my dad and I saw women’s barrel racing. These fast horses and hot women came running out around the arena, and the pageantry was exciting. I’ve been around that my whole life, I was a bathing suit model. I did beauty pageants. So this wasn’t much different to me, except it had an element of danger, and I thought, “Wow, I want to do that.” So like anything in my life, I faced it with no fear, hence they call me “No Fear LaPier.” Because I will face anything, even if I’m scared to death, I’ll saddle up anyway. They call that courage, it might be a little bit of craziness, maybe both. I found a really good trainer in the state of Washington. I would take my children to school in the morning, then I would load up my horses, and I learned how to drive a truck and trailer. I’d haul my horses real slow up I-5, and then I’d train, learning barrel racing and rodeo and how to ride. How to put protective gear on a horse, saddle a horse, ride a horse. I didn’t know anything. Then at the end of seven months I started placing and winning in rodeos, and everyone is like, “who is this?” And I’m thinking, “who is that?” I surprised myself. And of course I got hurt a couple of times really badly, but in that world most everybody has gotten hurt, because you’re dealing with such massive, strong, animals.
At that point, I didn’t care about exposure. I turned down interviews, I turned down opportunities. I had a lot of things on the table when I left Los Angeles, and I didn’t want really anything to do with work that was focused on myself and my looks. Some people said, “those are some of your best years looks-wise,” but I had gotten enough of the exterior, and I felt there was something else out there. Now I’ve found that there really is.
Did you ever have to deal with criticism from other women?
I still do. The girls are jealous of me, but the girls were jealous of me when I was in Los Angeles in bathing suit contests. Women have always been jealous of me, why would it be any different in rodeo? I just ignore it, they have to live with themselves. Haters are your biggest fans. The haters are what will drive you to do the unthinkable. Why? I have a quote at the end of my bed that says, “She believed she could, so she did.” I don’t know who said it, I got it at a flea market. But it’s so totally true.
You have a new show, “Rodeo Girls.” What do you hope to accomplish with it?
I hope it motivates people. My story is to inspire, and I just think I was put on this path for this reason. A lot of things came too easy, in a world where things can be so hard. Everybody has a show, has an idea, but mine is for a reason, and I know it’s meant to inspire. If you want to do something, and you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. If you have an idea, and you want it to turn into something, very simply, this is what you do. You write it down. The second you write it down it becomes a goal. Once it’s a goal you’re going to make smaller goals to achieve the bigger goal. Then it becomes real.
I think that’s probably one of the biggest things that irritate me sometimes, and I take it as ignorance. I’ll hear people say, “Oh my gosh Darcy you really did it.” When have I ever said I’m going to do something and not done it? I don’t like when people say they can’t believe this is happening. Because I can. When I say I’m going to do something, I will not rest until it happens. As Ashton Kutcher said, quoting Steve Jobs, “Opportunity looks a lot like work.” There is no shortcut. You know how I became a professional barrel racer? I worked my tail off. I’m still working hard. You know how I got a TV show? I worked hard, it took me three years. I went to two different companies and they couldn’t get their arms around my vision so I pulled it away from them. Because I knew that if my story was going to put light on rodeo, it had to be with the best. And I felt that The Weinstein Company understood and they did, they got it. The other thing is that A&E also got the vision. “Real life, real drama.” Sure there are cat-fights, there are girls with jealousy, that happens and it’s life. Women are notoriously jealous of each other, they dress for each other. If women actually dressed for men, life would be different. But most of it is real life.
How do you balance everything that you have going on?
I do it by compartmentalizing everything. So, I have the show that is done, now I’m promoting the show and there is a time for that. Right now I have someone taking care of my horses, who has been with me 10 years. My children are taken care of. My books are in constant motion, all of my health routines are in motion. It’s as if you are spinning plates and you touch each of them. One thing I’ve learned, actually from Ron Rice, my first husband, is that you have to shut off. And I shut off twice in a 24-hour period. I shut off in the middle of the day, which in the beginning was very difficult. I shut everything off and the people around me know if my house is burning down, come get me. Otherwise, leave me alone. In that hour, I may nap, I may read, but I’ll put wax earplugs in, and that is the only way I’m able to really shut down. Then I’ll do the same thing when I go to sleep, I’m not going to lay awake worrying. Worrying is going to do nothing and that’s something I’ve taught my children. Yes, there is a place to worry, but it shouldn’t occupy your mind constantly. There is only one thing you can control, and that is how you react. The world is going to go on without you anyway, and that’s hard to swallow especially if you have an ego. But you can change how you react. People are going to do people things, but you can control your own happiness. So why not be happy? What goes around comes around.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young person for building a successful career, what would it be?
You can do whatever you set your mind to.
I appreciate Darcy giving her time for this interview, it was a pleasure to meet her and get a glimpse into her motivation. She is an incredible individual, and gave me plenty of awesome quotes in only the half hour or so that I was with her. Be sure to tune into her show this week to see what it’s like to be a professional female barrel racer. I look forward to watching all of Darcy’s continued future success.