Cole and Mimi Baldwin’s story seems straight out of Hollywood. Two small town kids grow up together, fall in love and then move away to pursue acting careers in California.
In terms of Hollywood, their story could turn out to be a sweet coming-of-age movie, or one about the trials and tribulations of big city life.
But since this particular story begins in Hotchkiss, and because we’re still in the middle of our movie, and because our story is true, it is a fresh one, untainted by Hollywood.
Cole and Mimi began dating at Hotchkiss High School when he was a junior and she was a sophomore. After Cole graduated in 2003, he attended Central Wyoming College on a rodeo scholarship (he is a state champion saddle bronc rider). After two years he transferred to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where Mimi was now a freshman after graduating from HHS in 2004. Three years later, Cole graduated from CSU with a teaching degree in history and Mimi graduated with a degree in mathematics. Along the way, they got engaged.
And along the way, fate stepped in, in the form of community theater. After days of homework and student teaching, Mimi became involved in a local theater company in Fort Collins. “It was great, because I was taking math classes all day and it was nice to use the creative side of my brain,” she said. Her first role was of a girl named Mitzie who is in a support group of women who all wanted to get pregnant. “It was such a blast, and so hilarious,” she said. She was 19. From that production, Mimi caught the acting bug.
In another production, a fellow cast member told her about an agent in Denver. She met with the agent, and ended up signing with her. At CSU, her days were a blur of classes and acting. “The time I was there was just kind of peppered with things,” she said. “It was always a steady build of jobs. I was always working on something.” She did a series of national commercials and radio voiceovers for Toyota, a few feature length and short films, and a nationwide print campaign for Qwest.
“I was finding success in something that I really enjoyed,” she said.
After she and Cole graduated from college, they moved home to save money for their wedding. Cole’s parents, Ty and Jessie Baldwin, now live in Delta and Mimi’s parents, Nick and Cindy Streza, live in Cedaredge.
Cole and Mimi both worked for a while, and it was at this point that Mimi’s agent encouraged her to go to California and try to make a go of acting as a career. So while working and saving money, Mimi read every acting book she could get her hands on. “I wanted to be as prepared as I could be in California,” she said.
At this point, Cole told Mimi, “I am just a cowboy from Hotchkiss. How the heck am I going to make it in L.A.?” Mimi got online to find out what Cole could do while she worked as an actress. She found a job for him breaking colts at the Indian Stunt Ranch for Rod Rondeaux, a Hollywood stuntman who’s done the stunts for nearly every major western film produced in the last 10 years.
They were married in January 2009 in Grand Junction, and two days after they returned from their honeymoon, they packed a U-Haul and headed for California.
“When we first came out, it was really difficult to get work,” Cole said. After he helped Rondeaux break colts, he trained under him to be a stuntman. In the year and a half since he and Mimi have lived in Studio City, Calif., he’s done car and horseback stunts. He was the stunt coordinator in a film called “Tangerine Sky” (in which Mimi was the lead actress) and did stunt work in a TV pilot for “You Got What I Need.” Now, in addition to his stunt work, Cole manages and maintains properties for someone in the entertainment industry.
Meanwhile, Mimi has kept up her ever-busy schedule, all under her screen name Amelia Rose. She’s been in over a dozen independent films, two television pilots, and some co-starring roles on a few cable networks. She’s also been doing training and theme study with acting coaches, and has done improv at The Groundlings, where some of the cast of Saturday Night Live has performed. She has two agents and a manager.
“I’ve been extremely busy,” she said, her bubbly voice belying the hectic life (way more than 40 hours a week) she leads. “It’s an elite society. You just have to work hard.”
Both the Baldwins have profiles on www.imdb.com, an entertainment website that is difficult for actors to get a profile on, and are members of the Screen Actors Guild, another tough accomplishment. Mimi’s biggest screen accomplishment to date is playing the lead female alongside Gary Busey in a film called “Freaky Saturday Night Fever,” which is on the festival circuits in the eastern U.S. She auditioned against 500 other girls in the U.S. and in Paris, where half the film was shot. The movie was awarded Audience Favorite at the Industry Powerplay Screening in New York City and is an official selection of the New York City International Film Festival. Mimi said the film is also expected to be a selection for the Cannes Film Festival in France.
She was cast as the lead female in “Love Naturally,” which was an official selection of the Broad Humor Film Festival, and the lead female of “Tangerine Sky,” which was an official selection of the New York International Film Festival and awarded the Silver Lei Award at the Honolulu Film Festival. Both films are currently on the festival circuits as well.
Recently, Cole and Mimi both started work on a film called “Tennison Hopps,” a western about a young man who sets out to rescue his younger brother who was kidnapped after their parents were murdered. That film is still in production. “I stunt double for the main character, which is actually Carrie Underwood’s nephew,” Cole said.
Even though the Baldwins have moved to Hollywood and have immersed themselves in the entertainment industry, they have kept their small-town roots intact, minus a few name droppings here and there, as well as some industry slang. Cole has a horse that he and Mimi have to drive away from the city to ride, and he’s proud of the corn and chili peppers in his garden. Mimi recently auditioned for a national commercial where she was asked to drive a skid steer and a tractor, something “where my small-town girl skills came in handy,” she said.
“People can tell we’re not from here, and they comment on it,” she said. “But being where we come from is part of our success. We’re set apart from the people here.”
“It is a lot of hard work in the entertainment industry,” she said. “There is the glitz and glamour, getting dressed up, going on the red carpet, getting your picture taken. But like anyone pursing a professional career, it’s a challenge. I believe in luck. The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
You can see production stills and search for links to trailers for Mimi’s and Cole’s work online. Visit www.imdb.me/ameliarose or see the Amelia Rose fan page on Facebook.
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