Alexandra Ladove: A Star in the Ring & on the Big Screen
By Taylor Renner
Watching actors ride or play equestrians in movies can be both laughable and cringe-worthy. Hollywood is finally catching on, however, by casting real riders to portray these roles. Actress and equitation star Alexandra Ladove saddled up for her first major film role recently, performing her own stunts in the upcoming psychological thriller Broken Vows.
Alex, who is now 18 and from Rancho Santa Fe, California, landed her first role as an extra in Lee Daniels’ The Butler when she connected with some friends at a horse show who were partially involved in the business.
“I’ve always been interested in acting — it was something that was in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until around middle school that I became much more enthusiastic about it and started participating in school plays,” said Alex.
Since then, Alex has also appeared in the film Life of Crime (directed by Daniel Schechter) starring Jennifer Aniston, Yasiin Bey, Isla Fisher, Tim Robbins, Will Forte and John Hawkes. Alex portrayed Will Forte’s daughter, Pamela Taylor, in the 2013 comedy.
Her first major role is in the upcoming film Broken Vows (directed by Bram Coppens), starring Wes Bentley, Jaimie Alexander and Alexandra Breckenridge due to be released in summer 2015.
Alex’s upcoming film tells the tale of a charming yet troubled man named Patrick (played by Wes Bentley) who seduces Tara (played by Jaimie Alexander). Alex’s character, Emily, is a competitive hunter/jumper rider and is the younger sister of Jaimie Alexander’s character, who becomes a pawn in Patrick’s dark plans.
In the day and age of 50 Shades of Grey and The Boy Next Door, this film holds its own as a dynamic, suspenseful romantic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat! (Fun fact: The equestrian scenes in the movie were filmed at Karen Healey Stables at Whitethorne Ranch in Somis, California.)
“Working on Broken Vows was an amazing experience,” said Alex. “The role of Emily allowed me to use both my equestrian and acting skills, which brought my character to life. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do one-on-one scenes with both lead actors, Wes Bentley and Jaimie Alexander. They were both true professionals and great friends and were so supportive and helpful while working together on our scenes. Wes was hilarious; we laughed almost the whole time but had to be serious when the cameras started rolling. We even talked in Yoda voices for part of the time!
“Playing this role in Broken Vows was a huge milestone for me,” continued Alex. “I learned how to handle more intense scenes with a lot more screen time. I definitely learned how to handle the pressure of working with such accomplished actors. It really showed me how long the hours are and how much work goes into any production, no matter how large or small. The advice I got from the other actors was invaluable to me and really helped me hone my acting skills.”
Alex’s talents have not only brought her into the spotlight of the film industry but also throughout the junior equitation scene.
Even while working on the set of Broken Vows, Alex didn’t put her riding career on the back burner. Horses and riding are always her first priority.
“I was still trying to qualify for Washington finals while I was filming for Broken Vows,” said Alex. “We had to work out the schedules in order for me to be on set and still show. Luckily, we didn’t film on the weekends so that was convenient but it was still exhausting.”
Alex’s riding career began when she was 7 years old after a friend took her to a local barn and put her on a pony for the first time. Since then, she has worked her way up through the ranks of the junior hunter and equitation divisions, clinching numerous titles and ribbons along the way.
“I started out in the hunters and moved to the equitation later on,” recalled Alex. “I recently started competing in the jumpers too. I prefer equitation, though, because I’m so used to it, but jumpers are more fun and less stressful — it helps balance out the equitation.”
Traveling from coast to coast to compete, Alex trains with Robyn Steigler on the West Coast and Don Stewart on the East Coast. She was a top 20 finalist at the ASPCA Maclay National Finals in 2013, top 14 finalist at the WIHS Equitation Finals in 2013, USEF Talent Search silver medalist and qualified for all national medal finals during the 2013–2014 show season. She’s currently ranked #1 in the WIHS Equitation West Standings and was ranked #4 nationally in 2014.
Her favorite show to compete in is the Washington International Horse Show in Washington, D.C. “I really love WIHS,” said Alex. “I love the whole ambiance of being in the big city. People come and watch the show from the streets and the quality of competition is high among all of the riders. Everyone is so amazing.”
As she finishes up her last year as a junior, some of Alex’s favorite moments from her career include winning the West Coast Equestrian (WCE) Junior-Amateur Medal Final in 2012 aboard her horse Schubert, as well as qualifying for the national medal finals. She credits Schubert for kick-starting her success in the equitation ring.
“Winning WCE when I was 14 years old was really exciting because it wasn’t just a junior medal final — it was exciting to win that against amateurs,” said Alex. “Schubert really got me started doing well in the big equitation classes. I got him when I was 13. He was a really special horse that required such a precise and unique ride, but he was able to extend and collect his stride at such great lengths. We really were a great fit for each other.”
Now, Alex owns and competes equitation mounts Beau Van Het Keyershof (Beau), along with El Paso (owned by Citrus Hill Stables) and her new jumper, Calina, who was recently imported from Holland.
In addition to being a dedicated competitive equestrian athlete and actress, Alex still finds time to keep up with school and will be graduating from The Grauer School — an independent, college preparatory school founded in 1991 in Encinitas, California — in spring 2015.
“My high school has been really great about working with me,” said Alex. “I try to keep everything organized as best as possible and let everyone know when I’ll be gone so I can keep up with school while I’m away at horse shows or working on set.
“I think that one of the best ways to keep up with everything is to try to get plenty of sleep,” Alex continued. “A huge challenge that I face regularly being involved in all of these time commitments is finding free time to let myself relax. There were times when I had to choose between acting and showing, so I had to manage my time and make those choices accordingly.”
Actively recruited by seven colleges to be a part of their NCAA National Collegiate Equestrian Association Division I teams, Alex eventually chose to attend and compete at Auburn University starting in fall 2015.
“I got such a welcoming feeling from Auburn,” said Alex. “I felt at home there. I’m most excited about getting to know all of the other girls on the team and making friends for life. I’m also looking forward to a change of pace with going to school in the South as well as attending a great academic university that will help me be successful in life.”
Alex plans to earn a degree in business at Auburn and possibly later work in the film industry as an actress or a producer.
“I feel like I can kind of go anywhere with a business degree whether it be in the entertainment/film industry or not,” said Alex. “I certainly would hope to work in the film industry someday though. It’s such a creative business and I’d love to be involved in it somehow after school.”
Her Best Shot
Alex’s dream would be to one day work with actress Meryl Streep, whom she has looked up to as a role model for years. Until then, however, Alex is putting her film career on hold.
“I decided to put my acting career on hold for this year in order to give the medal finals of my last junior year my best shot,” said Alex. “I’ve spent a huge portion of my life competing and preparing to get to this level, so I want to be able to practice and ride even more in order to give it my all.”
In order to give it her all, Alex will be showing nonstop for the next couple of months with her primary goal being to ribbon in the top 10 of the national medal finals before her junior career ends in December.
“During the spring and summer, I’ll be showing at the Oaks, Showpark and Del Mar National,” said Alex. “I also plan on going to Devon at the end of May. In August, I’ll start the medal season with CPHA Junior Finals. Starting in September, I’ll compete in the Maclay Regionals and Talent Search Finals. Hopefully I’ll compete in the L.A. Masters show before the rest of the medal finals. Then I’ll travel to the East Coast for USEF/Pessoa, WIHS and ASPCA Maclay.”
Alex’s success in all that she does is a testament to her work ethic and dedication to her passions. There’s no doubt that the time commitments are challenging but she always finds a way to make it work.
Producer of Broken Vows, Wendy Benge, summed it up by saying: “Alex Ladove is unstoppable, whether it’s on the big screen or the equestrian circuit. Alex’s character and poise in her role of Emily while undertaking her own stunts were remarkable. Stay tuned for her many accomplishments in the years to come!”
Good luck to Alex throughout the rest of her show season and make sure to catch her this summer in Broken Vows!