From far away in her West Hollywood home, actress and sculptor Dey Young recalls fond memories of growing up in Bloomfield Hills. It was during her school days on the sprawling Cranbrook Kingswood campus where she first developed a love of performing and the visual arts.
At Cranbrook, not only did she participate in theatrical productions, but she also got to try her hand at a weaving loom and ceramics. She recalls how her years there introduced her to a love of all arts.
Some weekends and afternoons were spent doing her homework beneath the Rivera murals at the Detroit Institute of the Arts while her mother led tours there as a docent.
“Cranbrook School was instrumental in instilling in me a love of the arts in all their dimensions,” said Young, who has returned to the campus for class reunions. “When you are an artist, you find many paths and channels for your creativity.”
It is these two expressions of art – one extraverted and the other more introverted that has given this sculptor/actress staying power.
At 17, Young left Michigan and headed to the coast where her older sister Taylor Young was working as an actress. She got her BFA from Scripps College, with theater, dance and sculpture credits under her belt – and continued training at London Academy of Music and Dramatics Arts.
“My parents believed in the importance of gaining as much training in my craft as possible and having a fall back plan, such as teaching acting or theater. I was very grateful for my time studying in London. “
When she returned to LA at age 22, she got her first break starring in the 1979 cult classic Rock N Roll High School, that launched the career of punk band The Ramones.
She’s had dozens of movie and TV credits. But perhaps none is more memorable then playing the uppity Rodeo Drive saleswoman in Pretty Woman.
Young recalls how she landed the part when she met director Garry Marshall on a tennis court at a party being thrown by the late actor Alan Thicke.
“We wound up being tennis partners in a match of doubles, and we actually did quite well,” said Young. “Afterwards he said, ‘I think I have something in my next movie for you.’ And that movie was Pretty Woman. I never in 100 years thought I would be in a scene in a movie that was so iconic.”
In addition to her acting projects, Young is a commissioned sculptor whose works appear in galleries in Beverly Hills, Carmel and San Francisco.
Though most of her career is based in the West Coast, Young got a taste of the New York theater life starring in Georgette Kelly’s off-Broadway production I Carry Your Heart.
Now in her sixties, Young admits that there are less strong roles for older women. However, she keeps her skills sharp by constantly meeting new people and is a lifetime member of The Actor’s Studio in New York and Los Angeles.
Right now, she is working on a few sculpture commissions and there is a possible theatrical production in Los Angeles on the horizon.
“In order to be successful in acting, you must maintain that love and joy of it to get you through tough times, and you get that by constantly honing your craft in classwork where you get to play roles to expand your craft and push your boundaries. As actors, we must be constantly exploring and learning about ourselves. An actor’s job is never done.”