Alana Stewart, international model, actress, talk-show host, filmmaker and bestselling author, lived a life of fame and fortune being involved with Hollywood’s elite and a rock and roll icon. But there is so much more to her story that she tells in her memoir Rearview Mirror that may be inspirational for females that may be struggling with difficult situations like depression, divorce, self-esteem, or drug addiction.
As Alana chronicles in her memoir, she was born in a small rural town in the state of Texas and lived in a one room shack with an outhouse. Her mother was a drug addict and emotionally unavailable for Alana and she was basically raised by her strict, religious grandmother- never knowing her father. At one point, Alana talks about being so poor that her grandmother made her a dress out of a potato sack. When her mother was available, she would move Alana to a different town and school, but she always ultimately ended up back with her grandmother.
After high school, when Alana was living in her own apartment and had a job as a flight attendant, she was violently raped and left for dead. She was so devastated by this tragedy and to escape her unhappy childhood and the rape, she moved to New York City at the young age of 19 to pursue a career in modeling.
This was just the beginning of her career as a successful model and her journey through her glamorous lifestyle of modeling, traveling the world, and her marriages to Actor George Hamilton and Rock ‘n Roll icon Rod Stewart – living in mansions in Hollywood while partying with Hollywood’s elite and rock ‘n roll legends.
While this may seem like a fairy tale to most, her life was full of struggles that resulted in bulimia, divorce, and depression. Alana candidly speaks about her life challenges and her heartache from the divorce from two famous men, raising her three children on her own, financial hardships, drug addiction in her family, and the loss of her Mother and her dear friend Farrah Fawcett.
Alana’s strength and faith were able to help her deal with her struggles and become a better person today. Through her strong faith, which she credits to her grandmother, and her spiritual healing with Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, Alana has persevered through the toughest of times and now wants to share her valuable life lessons with the hopes of inspiring any female experiencing tough times.
We had a chance to chat with Alana and gain some insight into her memoir Rearview Mirror and bring you some of her life lessons which she says are “unconditional love, faith, gratitude, perseverance, and the imporance of finding your hight purpose in life.”
What inspired you to write Rearview Mirror and what do you hope to accomplish with this story?
A few years ago, I read a book called The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It was about her growing up in abject poverty in a very dysfunctional family and I found it very compelling. At the time, I thought that I would like to write about my own experiences. I’ve faced a lot of difficult challenges in my life and felt that by sharing them I might be able to encourage others going through similar situations. I’ve often gained help and insight by listening to or reading about how other people have overcome challenges.
Learning about your early years and the struggles you encountered was certainly compelling. Can you tell us if there was a turning point and when or what that was?
After I graduated from high school, I desperately wanted to escape from my unhappy childhood but wasn’t sure how. I became an airline stewardess for a local airline and soon afterward I moved into my first apartment, an intruder broke in and I was violently raped and left for dead. It’s was such a horrible, shameful experience that I knew I had to finally leave Texas and leave it all behind me. That’s when I moved to New York to try my luck at modeling.
You talked about some of the pressures that were put on you when you moved to New York City to become a model that apparently ultimately led to your bulimia. Can you share with our young female readers some secrets on how not to succumb to pressures to transform yourself into something you are not and still feel good about yourself?
What bothers me today is that a lot of young models and actresses are so bone thin and young impressionable girls think this is the way they have to look. That and low self esteem was what led to my bulimia. And, of course, I was told to lose weight for the job. If I had been able to do it in a healthy way that would have been alright. I could have lost the 5 lbs. by proper dieting and exercise. And it was a reasonable request because I weighted 130 lbs. Losing 5 lbs didn’t make me look emaciated. The problem was that I had a healthy self image so immediately started thinking I was “fat.”
There are a lot of female artists out there right now that might be struggling with difficulties of being accepted, living in a difficult family environment, or just financially strapped. This can lead to frustration and abandonment of the pursuit of their dreams. What advice can you give to young struggling artists?
Don’t give up on your dreams but perhaps get a part time job to pay the bills while you’re pursuing your dreams. And get involved in some kind of spiritual study or support group. 12 Step programs are great if any of them apply. Anything that helps us strengthen our faith and trust in a higher power is very helpful and actually can be life-changing.
When you found yourself in the world of rock, glitz and glamour with your marriage to Rod Stewart, how did that affect you as a person, I mean, your ideals, values and self-esteem? Were you able to hold on to who you were or did you struggle with identity, because this must have been an incredible, over-whelming life experience?
It was certainly a new world to me and we fell madly in love so quickly that it all seemed kind of like a fairy-tale. I’d been married to George Hamilton before and he and I had been together 10 years so I was used to a glamorous life, although we spent a lot of time at home after we had our son. The rock and roll world was exciting but Rod and I also spent a lot of time with my Hollywood friends. Then, I got pregnant and had two babies in a row plus my son Ashley, so we became a family quickly and our life was pretty normal for the most part. I had three little ones and my hands full, so we weren’t out partying like we were when we first met.
I lived with my grandmother out in the country in Texas when I was very young and she was a very religious woman with a strong set of values and I guess I inherited them from her, along with her strength of character. Fortunately, I’ve been able to retain them through the years and even through tough times, it’s helped me pull through. It’s not always easy living in the world I suddenly found myself in and keeping your identity and self esteem intact. I went through a few very difficult years until I started on a journey of my own recovery.
As a self-described country girl admiring Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, tell us what you think about country music’s evolution since those guys and how you feel artists like Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift have contributed to that great genre?
I’m a huge country music fan. It’s all I listen to on my car radio. I was just listening to a Sirius station that plays all the old country classics and thinking how much it’s changed over the years. I’m getting to know the names and songs of some of the newer country stars like Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, and of course Blake Shelton and I really love their music. Maybe this is the wrong way to explain it but it’s got a much more main stream pop kind of feel to much of it. By the way, I’ve loved Toby Keith for years! Often, I think I should have married a country singer instead of a rock and roller. I think we would have had a lot in common. I’m a down home gal at heart.
You have had your share of ups and downs in your life. Where did the inner strength come from to make it through the “downs” and what advice would you have for young girls who are either aspiring musicians or just want to grow up to be great women?
As I said earlier, I think a lot of my inner strength came from my grandmother. She read the Bible to me and we went to church when we could get a ride, and I’ve always had faith that God would help me through whatever I might be facing. After Rod and I broke up I went through a terrible period and that’s when I started to really seek more spiritual support. I strongly recommend some kind of spiritual program or teaching for anyone who wants to be the best person they can be.
Let’s move on to Farrah Fawcett. Here’s an icon in her own right and you ended up being close friends with her. What did you have in common with Farrah and how did she inspire you in your life?
Farrah and I were both Texas girls and I think we really bonded because of that. We both had common sense and down home values even though we lived in Hollywood. She loved staying home and cooking a great Texas meal (like fried chicken, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread, black-eyed peas, etc.) and so did I. We loved to make homemade pies together for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
I was so amazed and inspired by her courage when she went through her battle with cancer. She was so determined that she was going to beat this disease and she never wavered. Unfortunately, she didn’t in the end but she put up a valiant fight and inspired so many people.
Can you tell us a little more about the Farrah Fawcett Foundation and your role as President?
Farrah set up the foundation a couple of years before she passed away to help fund cancer research and to help people battling cancer in the present. She knew how essential research was in order to find a cure but she also wanted to help people who were struggling financially while getting cancer treatments. She realized how fortunate she was to be able to afford the best in care and really felt for those who couldn’t.
Looking back on your incredible life, did faith play any role in your ultimate triumph and, if so, when did it become a significant part of your life?
Faith has always played a big role in my life and even in the darkest times, I’ve clung onto my faith that God would get me through. I’m still working and growing spiritually. I don’t think we ever stop learning more about life. There’s a saying, “Faith is fear that’s said its prayers.”
One final question, what advice would you give to people of all ages about the secret to happiness in life, you know, what really matters?
I can’t say that I know one secret to happiness in life, but I have learned a lot about it. Happiness is not something that just randomly happens. We have to make our own happiness and much of it comes from the way we look at life. We can look at the glass half full or half empty. So much depends on our attitudes and making up our minds to focus on what is good in our lives instead of the negative. The more we can find to be grateful for, the more good that we attract into our lives. I make a gratitude list every night before I go to sleep. One of the things I’ve learned is that gratitude is a very attracting energy whereas if we focus on what’s wrong we just get more to complain about.
One thing I did learn from my experience with Farrah is that we should appreciate every day we’re alive and healthy and most importantly, love and cherish the people close to us and make sure they know how much we love and appreciate them. Live in the present and be grateful for every moment and every one in your life. It can change in a heartbeat.