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Hitting the limelight

By NAN BIALEK

February 2015

If Brookfield native Alex Wehrley seems at home in front of the camera, it’s probably because she’s been there most of her life. Today, the television personality steps into the spotlight at events like the Country Music Association Awards, where she interviews stars on the red carpet.

"I started modeling for Kohl’s Department Stores when I was 9 years old," she says. "That gave me my first taste of enjoying an audience."

She went on to perform with Accent On Dance in Waukesha and the Brookfield East High School Spartanettes dance team, where, Wehrley says, she found her best friends.

At UW-Madison, Wehrley majored in communication arts, interned at the Madison NBC-TV affiliate and took in all the Capitol City had to offer. "I love the campus, it’s so beautiful," she says. "My favorite thing to do was hang out on the Union Terrace, overlooking the lake, listening to live music."

Wehrley says she was born with the "performance gene," so as she watched a Miss USA pageant on TV, she decided to use the skills she’d already developed to become a 2009 pageant contestant.

"It was an incredible experience, and it’s very unique for a 21-year-old, especially since I didn’t grow up with pageants," she says. She was crowned Miss Wisconsin USA and advanced to the national competition at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Shortly after the pageant, Wehrley took on morning anchor duties at the NBC-TV affiliate in Rockford, Ill. She moved on to host a talk show in Oklahoma City before joining a nationally syndicated morning show in Dallas. But her biggest step forward was her decision to strike out on her own as a freelancer in Los Angeles. She says she and her fiance, who is from Elm Grove, "were just ready to take our careers to a new level."

Wehrley has been working as a freelance host for the cable news network E! News Now and doing red carpet interviews for ABC Digital and Yahoo.

"The more you interview celebrities, the more you realize that they’re just like us. At the end of the day, they’re extremely relatable," she says.

A lifelong country music fan, Wehrley says working at the CMA Awards was a high point of her career.

"Talking to these country musicians and then sprinkle in some chaos, it was just a thrill. There’s a certain culture in country where people have some depth to them and they’re great storytellers," she says.

Wehrley now has her sights set on joining a "big national show," and she is also pursuing an acting career. She recently landed a speaking part in the movie "Rudderless," a musical drama directed by Bill Macy.

"For the first time, I feel like I have creative control over my career," she says. "I love the people who aren’t afraid to fail, because before you succeed you’re definitely going to fail a couple of times. But if you stick with it, you’re definitely going to fulfill your vision."

At the moment, she is looking ahead to her May wedding at the Oconomowoc Lake Club. Planning a wedding long-distance isn’t easy, she says, "but thank goodness for Mom."

 

 

 


This story ran in the February 2015 issue of: