Fourteen-year-old Skyler M. Day leads a unique life. She is an actress starring in the Park City Film Festival-featured film titled “The Christmas Project,” and she has also been battling three rare chronic conditions that have affected her daily life: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Chiari malformation syringomyelia and scoliosis.
“I’d say it’s a little bit harder (going through this as an actress) than just going through it normally,” the Farmington Junior High student said in a phone interview with the Deseret News. “But acting has definitely kept me going through all of this stuff. It gives me something to look forward to.”
"The Christmas Project," which premiered in November, is a story about three brothers who are tormented by a bully at school. With a little help from their mother, they get back at the bully and his family in an unexpected way. Skyler portrays one of the bully's sisters, who befriends the three brothers.
Skyler, who has been acting since she was 9 years old, has been in 12 films, including “The Cokeville Miracle,” “Miracle Maker” and “Christmas for a Dollar.” At the Filmed in Utah Awards show in 2015, she received recognition as the “Best Actress Under 18,” according to her IMDb page.
Two days after receiving this award, however, Skyler went to Shriners Hospitals for Children for a brain surgery to help treat her Chiari malformation.
Her chronic conditions negatively affect her joints and blood vessels, her head and neck, and her back.
“It was pretty devastating as a mom because she was just in the prime of her acting when this all happened,” said Sadie Day, Skyler’s mother. “When we got the news, and all of this stuff started happening to her, we were in shock.”
Shortly after her brain surgery, Skyler filmed “Miracle Maker,” and four months later, she went in for a spinal fusion.
Three days after this Christmas, she is set to have another surgery.
“I’ve been able to keep a positive attitude because I know how lucky I am, and I’m just grateful for what I have,” Skyler said. “I know others have it worse, so I don’t take things for granted in life. I always live to the fullest.”
According to her mother, Skyler’s positive attitude is what inspires their family. Although she physically had a harder time filming “The Christmas Project” than the other young actors, she has no plans of stopping her acting career.
“She has good days and bad days, but to see her do it all as an actress — I don’t think she can fully grasp or understand what kind of an actress she is,” Sadie Day said.
Recently, Skyler went back to Shriners but not as a patient. In an effort to give back, she had “music time” with the 30 children who are currently in the hospital, and bought each of them a new teddy bear, according to Sadie Day.
“I think service is important because I like to spread happiness,” Skyler said. “I know so many people are going through hard times in their lives, and I sort of know how that feels. I feel the need to give because giving is what makes me most happy and seeing the looks on their faces makes everything a little bit better.”
With service as her motivation, Skyler’s ultimate acting goal is to one day make enough money to open her own animal rescue center.