Happy acting

Ellyse Brautigam attended elementary, middle and her first year of high school on the Island, but you probably don't remember her.

However, you might have seen her on the now-running SoBe ``Adrenaline Rush'' beverage commercial or the Seattle-produced independent films ``Living Life,'' ``The Family Hayes,'' or ``Only A Week.''

She wasn't always so willing to be in the limelight.

Now 18, Brautigam was shy and withdrawn at West Mercer Elementary. She spent recesses in the library so she wouldn't have to mingle. Her teachers ``always said there was something not quite there with me,'' said Brautigam, who could add, but couldn't figure a sum in a word problem.

By the time she got to Islander Middle School, she had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. A prescribed drug helped, but made her more withdrawn and kept her so obsessed with details she'd spend eight hours doing homework that should have taken two. Brautigam had few friends.

Tests at the end of middle school showed she had obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders, and that she was depressed. But, Brautigam, who has a propensity to please, didn't reveal how truly sad she was.

``I acted as though everything was OK, but it wasn't OK,'' she said.

By her freshman year of high school, she had only 85 pounds on her 5-foot frame -- a problem her parents treated with protein supplements.

Still, no one knew the extent of her emotional pain until her mother caught her planning her funeral -- down to the song to be played and the clothes she'd wear in the casket.

Realizing ``something was real wrong,'' said Brautigam, her parents put her on a variation of the drug initially prescribed. This one didn't depress her appetite as the first one had, and it helped her function. She began attending private school and at 16 earned her high school degree by taking a proficiency test.

Brautigam lives with her mother, Nerina, in Burbank, Calif., so she can pursue acting. Her father, Ray, transportation manager for the Mercer Island School District, resides here. Her parents, she said, are ``very, very supportive.''

Brautigam also credits her eighth-grade English teacher, Molly Pritchard, with encouraging her. The teacher suggested she try out for a big role in the school's production of ``The Boyfriend.'' And she got it.

Since she's arrived in California, Brautigam has been in two public service announcements, is earning $35,000 from the SoBe commercial, and is being considered for an independent film, she said.

By Hollywood standards, she's doing well.

And, when she doesn't get a role, she's OK. It just feels like when other children rejected her because she was different, or she was so shy, anxious and awkward -- manifestations of her disorders -- that she couldn't make friends.

``I don't take it personally anymore,'' she said.

What she takes to heart is the praise she now gets. SoBe thought ``I really had a presence on camera,'' she said.

She also notes that she now has a stage name: Ellyse Deanna.

That she'd like you to remember.

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