Aspiring filmmakers Shelby and Monica Church have big plans for their careers behind the camera.
But for now, the fraternal twins are happy to be in the limelight, as members of Thomas Jefferson High School’s diving and gymnastics teams, and on YouTube, where they have launched a successful business venture providing makeup and fashion tips to teens.
The two seniors started making short videos three years ago. Now, Monica’s YouTube channel, Hairodynamic, has 86,000 subscribers and more than 10 million views of her videos demonstrating makeup tips, her morning beauty routine and how to dye hair. Shelby’s channel, teenmakeuptips, features back-to-school fashion shows, advice for applying foundation – even a tour of her room.
They make two or three videos a week, using a tripod, and even take requests.
“They start to know you and they start to like your personality more than your tips,” said Shelby, who has 63,000 subscribers and about 6.7 million views.
Their venture has been lucrative enough that the girls are bringing in a steady income. In turn, they are living in the public eye, but they don’t mind.
“I used to hate when people watched my videos, but now even teachers at my school know about them, and I don’t care anymore,” Monica said.
Their diving coach, Kelly Robertson, described the girls as “very independent.”
After all, these 17-year-olds not only purchase their own clothes and makeup, but they also bought themselves a car. Technically, only Shelby can drive it, but Monica vows to get her driver’s license before they make it big in Hollywood. Shelby wants to work in editing; Monica wants to own her own film company.
As Running Start students, they take all but one class at Highline Community College, and will graduate with their associate degrees in June.
“We’re independent in those ways, but we’re really dependent on each other,” Monica said.
That means that in the pool, if one does something, the other follows.
“It’s comforting, like they’re learning something together,” Robertson said. “It’s like, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’ They play off each other.”
Monica admitted that she wants to beat Shelby, but she also wants to see her do well.
“When I watch her do a dive, I’m hoping she doesn’t mess up,” she said. “And if she starts doing a dive, I want to try it, too.”
Interestingly, the Churches’ diving career was not something they initially agreed upon.
In their freshmen year, their dad mandated that they do a fall sport – something to keep them busy between club and high school gymnastics. They quit gymnastics last year to focus on diving but plan to compete for Thomas Jefferson for their final gymnastics season.
Their stint on the cross-country team lasted one day.
After their first diving practice, Shelby was hooked, but Monica wasn’t sure. The younger twin – by seven minutes – prevailed.
“In gymnastics, you land on your feet, but in diving, you land on your head, and I wasn’t used to that at all,” Monica said. “I used to hate front drives – I liked the feet-first dives and twisting.”
That hasn’t changed; her favorite dive is now a back one and a half, one and a half twist.
“When I flip, I know where I am in the air pretty much all the time,” she said. “I can’t imagine doing some of the flips that people do without having done them in gymnastics.”
Shelby said that she relies upon the balance she has perfected on the balance beam. Her favorite dive is a front two and a half somersault.
“It’s as fast as I can go, in the air,” she said.
Robertson, a former elite gymnast and Olympic medal-winning diver, said that like most gymnasts, the Churches struggled to let the diving board do the work.
“They want to do it, like on a spring floor,” she said. “But because they have been competing in gymnastics, they’re pretty good at competing in diving.”
Last year, both took the podium at the state meet – Monica in fourth place, Shelby in sixth. They’re working to ensure not only a strong finish to their high school careers, but also a spot on a Division I diving team. Among the colleges they are interested in are UCLA, USC and San Diego – all schools with strong film programs.
And, if they happen to find themselves wearing Olympic gold someday, that would be just fine. Their friends keep suggesting they take up synchronized diving.
“You can dive for a really long time,” Monica said. “So not in 2016, but maybe 2020 ”
Shelby nodded emphatically.
“That would be so awesome.”
2012 GIRLS SWIMMING OUTLOOK
Top state-hopeful team: Mount Rainier, the reigning Class 4A West Central District champion, has not lost an SPSL North dual meet since 2010. The Rams have both star power (Megan Kawaguchi, Courtney Larson and Jackie Beal) and depth (46 swimmers out) to make another run.
Projected dual-meet league champions: SPSL North – Mount Rainier; SPSL South – Curtis; Narrows 4A – Stadium; SPSL 3A – Peninsula; Narrows 3A – North Thurston; SPSL 2A – Sumner; 2A Evergreen Conference – Tumwater.
Best swimmer: Ultra-competitive? That is exactly what Stadium High senior Felicity Cann is. “She races at meets. She races at practice. She races everything,” Tigers coach Dave Baughman said. The defending Class 4A 100-yard freestyle champion is really focusing on the 200 this season.
Others to watch: Emma Chard, jr., Foss (100 breaststoke, 200 IM); Monica Church, sr., Jefferson (diving); Shelby Church, sr., Jefferson (diving); Arriya Hagen, sr., North Thurston (100 back, 100 fly); Hannah Holly, jr., Curtis (50 free, 100 free); Ashley Huynh, sr., Sumner (100 breaststroke, 200 IM); Megan Kawaguchi, jr., Mount Rainier (100 free, 100 backstroke, 200 IM); Carolyn McCann, jr., Gig Harbor (100 breaststroke, 200 IM); Madison Munger, jr., Sumner (100 free, 100 butterfly); Sarah Norman, so., Olympia (100 butterfly); Marissa O’Quinn, sr., Peninsula (diving); Alana Pries, so., Emerald Ridge (50 free, 100 free); Kenna Ramey, jr., Federal Way (50 free, 100 free); Emily Tanasse, sr., Kentlake (100 backstroke, 100 butterfly).email@example.com