All aboard the mid-noughties nostalgia train! The kid from Step Brothers has a really cool new career and it’s a long, long way from singing Sweet Child O’ Mine in an on-set SUV.
Remember Brennan’s brother, Derek? His delightful family gave us one of the most iconic scenes from 2008’s cult classic, Step Brothers – the funnier, weedier little film brother to Will Ferrell’s Anchorman which had everyone feeling like everyday was the Catalina Wine Mixer.
Stay Golden, Ponyboy. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we:
Aside from Kathryn Hahn’s brilliantly deadpan performance as Derek’s long-suffering wife, Alice, and their son Tommy’s (Lurie Poston) solo, there was a third part to that sweet, sweet harmony which made the scene all the better.
Meet Elizabeth Yozamp, who played Tiffany Huff, the youngest of the Huff family, a fictional character no doubt destined for great bizarreness like the rest of her clan.
Elizabeth, who is now in the Marine Corps after a hard time dealing with the trappings of fame and family pressures, can empathise, she exclusively told UNILAD.
The Portland, Oregan youngster was aged just 11 when she got through a gruelling casting process against hundreds of other hopefuls to play Tiffany.
Elizabeth, now a mum of one herself, recalled:
When I got the call saying I had booked the role, I was with my mother in the kitchen of our apartment. I will never forget her reaction; it was the happiest and most excited I have ever seen her.
With a heavy heart, though, Elizabeth told UNILAD how the passion for local theatre she’d developed in her early years grew into a desperate need not to disappoint her mother.
Elizabeth was cast in her first on-stage appearance at the tender age of seven after moving to Bend, Oregon and seeing a traveling Broadway Production called Street Scene.
Even though I was still so young, I think that was the point where I really started to take the theatre seriously. I loved it! At that point, it was more then a childhood hobby for me. I took it so seriously.
Just before her 9th Birthday, Elizabeth’s mum entered her into a national talent search called Best New Talent in which the promising young performer placed in the top two in all three categories.
So, then came the offers from agents and managers and the whole family – including Elizabeth’s two sisters and her little brother – headed to Hollywood, California.
The burgeoning talent threw herself into auditioning for commercials and voiceovers, as well as TV and movie roles, with her mother always there to support her – leaving little time for the rest of the family and ultimately leading to the separation of Elizabeth’s parents.
Elizabeth recalled the pressures and her subsequent stress, anxiety and guilt:
I remember wanting to just play sports, hang out with friends, and be a normal kid, more than anything.
My two siblings really missed home, our extended family, their friends, and being a part of a healthy community and I still believe all the acting craziness contributed to my parents’ eventual separation and divorce.
I carried a lot of guilt; I felt like I took that life away from my siblings. But I just couldn’t disappoint my mother… So other than a few complaints here and there, I kept my feelings to myself.
Then came the part of Tiffany Huff.
Although she has only seen the film a few times – finding the practice of watching herself on camera ‘a little weird’ – Elizabeth now looks back on her three ‘amazing’ months in the recording studio and on set with the likes of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly fondly, saying she ‘loved every second’.
However, as Elizabeth got older in Hollywood, more emphasis was put on looking a certain way.
I had friends who were working with Disney channel, and others who were still trying to break into the industry, and I was always told by this peer group I needed to eat less, get a nose job, get a boob job, and the list goes on…
A lot of my fellow child actors and friends developed eating disorders.
I remember one friend in particular told me she would drink alcohol to help deal with the stress. She said her mom never noticed the missing alcohol. She was only 14 at the time and she was dependent on the stuff.
Elizabeth told us she couldn’t understand why a chance at ‘fame’ could possibly be worth trading in health and happiness, believing it wasn’t worth feeling miserable.
So she asked her mum, who begrudgingly allowed her to take a break from acting, thus putting further strain on what Elizabeth called their ‘shaky relationship’.
In coping, Elizabeth became very involved in Mixed Martial Arts and started training to perform stunts for future film and TV auditions, attending the L.A. Stunt school aged 16.
After relishing her studies in free falls from five-storey buildings, stunt fighting, being hit by a moving car without being hurt, and being set on fire, she realised a return to acting wasn’t on the cards.
So, she made the ‘best decision of her life’ and moved back to Oregon three days before turning 17 to ‘a quieter life, outside of the public eye.’
Spending her days hiking, rock climbing, cycling and mountain biking, camping, swimming, and fishing suddenly became ‘somehow more exciting’.
But she couldn’t hunt for the wilderness forever, and starting looking at a career.
Wanting to make a difference, Elizabeth chose to follow in the footsteps of her father, an Air Force veteran, and decided to join the military.
She recounted a visit to the Army Recruiters, whose offices were closed perchance. But, lingering outside, she was noticed by a Marine Corps Recruiter – a path she’d never considered taking because, as she put it, ‘those guys seemed so hardcore’.
Elizabeth told UNILAD:
They were always in there doing pull ups, and the trainees were always working out and running around the building. I didn’t think I would be able to keep up with any of them.
I remember wondering if there were even women in the Marine Corps! I had never seen or met any, and all of their 30 trainees were male. But the challenge appealed to me.
And so did the job options. I was offered a job as a Combat Photographer, and I took it!
She ‘worked [her] butt off to be ready for boot camp’ by training every day for over half a year before shipping out for three months of ‘constant physical training, drill, rifle training, basic combat training, and a crash course on Marine Corps history, all while being screamed at’.
But she did it – and passed The Crucible, a 54-hour long event which starts with an eight-kilometre march to a training area tucked away in the woods followed by gruelling events designed to simulate the challenges and stress of combat all on minimal food and sleep.
Elizabeth aced it, completed Basic Training and earned the title of Marine, before going to Marine Combat Training and continuing on to her job as a Combat Photographer at Fort Meade in Maryland.
Here, Elizabeth met her ‘amazing husband’, Christopher, a Marine Combat Engineer – who didn’t recognise her, funnily enough.
They were married a year later and Elizabeth graduated from her class as the Honor Graduate, at which point she relocated to North Carolina to be with Christopher.
After some health issues took her ‘out of the fight’, Elizabeth was moved to the Wounded Warrior Battalion. It’s one of the reasons she champions the work of the Semper Fi Fund, a charity supporting military personnel with life-changing injuries.
The fork in the road, however, gave Elizabeth the time to serve in her ‘greatest and most rewarding job’ as a mother to Adeline, who was born in March 2017.
She told UNILAD:
She has given my life new meaning. As I’m getting ready for the transition back to civilian life, whatever it brings, I am just so grateful to have more time with my baby girl!
Rest assured, the lucky little girl has a mother whose bedtime lullabies will be pitch-perfect!
Here’s her majestic performance from yesteryear:
As for a Step Brothers sequel? It’s ‘very possible‘ according to director Adam McKay. Maybe Elizabeth will be too busy watching cops – or actually serving in the Corps.
What a life to have led. Prestige Worldwide.
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A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.