Wild Eagle: From Dollywood to Curl Up & Dye

A lot of things run through your mind when you’re flying through the air on the Wild Eagle roller coaster at Dollywood. There’s nothing below and only sky above as you loop, twist, and turn at 60 miles per hour through the air. I love the rush of a good roller coaster, and it was on this one that I decided that I would finally follow through with my dreams.

The night before, I sat in a hot tub with my little sister and a couple of our friends and drinking boxed wine at our Airbnb cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN. I somehow convinced everyone to sing Elton John’s 1983 hit I Guess that’s Why They Call It the Blues. I also gave our group a forced premiere of Beyonce’s newly released album, Lemonade, (which seemed to please our neighbors.) During the tomfoolery that always seems to happen on one of our girl’s trips, I said, “We should all be on SNL!” I usually announce this fact on every girl’s trip because of the hilarity that unfolds, but I never admit that I’m 100% serious.

 View from our cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN.

View from our cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN.

The next day, I sat next to my friend Natalie on the Wild Eagle coaster before it got going. She was frantically reciting Hail Marys and I chuckled to myself while nervously checking my harness.

When I get on something like a roller coaster or airplane where I have zero control over what happens, I usually ask myself, “If this was IT, would you regret anything?” I thought about what I had said the night before about being on SNL and what it would really mean. As we were upside down on Wild Eagle, I admitted to myself that I would regret not trying to be involved with my favorite show.

Okay, okay. If you know me, you know that I’m ultra shy and hate being the center of attention. And so you’re probably thinking, “SNL? Really Layla?” I know it sounds crazy. It even sounds crazy for the most extroverted clown you know. But it’s not SNL, specifically, that I was after. SNL represents an avenue of expression -- a bunch of weirdos coming together to create art that makes us laugh and examine our own human ridiculousness.

The simple truth is that I wanted to able express my wacky, weird, (sometimes) humorous perspective out loud -- to the world. I have all of this stuff inside that’s been bottled up. For years I’ve been adulting and stuffing all of this great stuff down in order to survive. Now that I was finally back up for air, I had the opportunity to get back on track.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about this unclear, crazy aspiration of being involved with SNL, but it was a goal and it gave me a clear path to start on -- writing sketch comedy.  I accepted the goal as my responsibility and put all my energy into making it happen.

Soon after the girl’s trip to Dollywood, I started taking action and my life has changed forever. Here are few things that I’ve accomplished in the past year:

  • Graduated from Highwire Comedy’s sketch writing program and watched three of my sketches performed in front of live audiences
  • Started the process of making Curl Up & Dye into an animated short
  • Collaborated with a bunch of hardworking, driven, talented, and funny people
  • Began developing Curl Up & Dye into a series
  • Enrolled in Animation Mentor’s Character Animation program
  • Started a company, Curious Little Films LLC, to continue making animated films

I’ve realized that this crazy journey is about finding my voice again and creating my life’s work. I'm super excited about how everything is coming together and I can't wait to share Curl Up & Dye with you soon.

Next time you’re in Dollywood, I highly recommend taking a ride on the Wild Eagle, but beware -- it could change your life. And there’s no turning back.