Sadie Robertson Stays ‘Original’

Duck Commander Teen Dishes on Her Platform, Faith and New Book

by Joy Allmond, contributing writer

Things may look normal for Sadie Robertson these days, but 2014 has been anything but normal for her. For starters, she wrote and released her first book. Then, she announced she is launching a prom dress line.

Sadie and Sherri

Sadie is working with legendary elegant dress designer, Sherri Hill.

And just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, the nation watched as she competed for the mirror ball trophy in the Dancing With the Stars finale. She finished in second place with her partner, Mark Ballas.

Now, the Duck Commander teen is back in West Monroe, La., doing what she would normally do this time of year—playing on her high school basketball team and getting full swing into family holiday activities.

To Sadie, it seems uncanny that her book, Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps it Real and Stays True to Her Values, was released in the middle of her season on Dancing With the Stars—a time when she lived out the subtitle in front of 15 million people each week.

“The timing was amazing,” she said of the recent book release.  “This was a God thing. When we wrote the book and had the release date planned, I had no idea I would be on Dancing With the Stars. It’s really cool.”

The whole thing appears to be a divine appointment—a divine appointment she almost missed.

“I wanted to do the show for a while. They asked me to do it for a year or so and I kept putting it off. Once I was offered the chance, I got nervous. I wanted to back out. I got cold feet,” 17-year-old Sadie remembered.

“My dad said, ‘Sadie. Seriously? You’ve wanted this for so long. You would so regret it if you didn’t do it.’”

The invitation took place via phone on a late summer Sunday. By the following Tuesday, she was on a plane headed to Los Angeles. This Dancing With the Stars journey would prove to require more spiritual tenacity than she had ever shown, but she was up for the task.

“I basically grew up in a Christian community. Pretty much everyone I know is a Christian. And it was time to go out into the world and do my job as a Christian. I had been preparing for this my whole life,” she said.

The former junior basketball Olympian used a sports metaphor to describe the process of preparation: “It’s kind of like going to basketball practice. But now it’s time to get in the game. My church prepared me for this time in my life. I used everything I learned.”

She also credits the backing of her strong, faith-filled family in grooming her to be set apart—to “live original.”

“If I didn’t have my strong faith and my family backing me up, I could fall into some of the temptations out there—whether it is what costumes I would wear, or taking part in certain conversations around me,” explained Sadie. “If my family had not prepared me for this, it would have been a challenge.”

Now, through her book, she hopes to bring the backing and the confidence to other teens that her family brought to her. Sadie wrote Live Original not just as a plea to others to not conform to society, but as a reminder to herself of her own calling.

“These are standards I set for myself. I wrote the book not out of the person I am now, but the person I want to be. I challenge myself in the book to live it out on a daily basis—to live to be who God made me to be,” she explained.

The title of the book is steeped in a bit of history. Willie, her father, began calling her “The Original” when she was around five years old because there was always a little something different about her from the other kids.

In fact, the phrase is so important to her that she used it to brand her prom dress line she has launched in collaboration with designer Sherri Hill.  The heart behind the line is to keep necklines and hemlines modest—not ankle-length or long-sleeved—while offering fashionable alternatives to young women that don’t sacrifice dignity.

“For prom dress line, I wanted to offer dresses that are modest and not what everyone else wears,” she said. “The name of the line is another clever way to say, ‘Don’t fall into the world.’”

As far as modesty is concerned, her season on Dancing With the Stars gave her the platform to put her words into actions by honoring God with her body. She became known for making sure her costumes were modest, without being stuffy. She was also mindful to work with Ballas to keep the dance moves more “PG” and not on the provocative side, which is often the norm.

Viewers, judges and media could also count on her on to quote Scripture as motivation to perform well, and give all credit to God during post-dance interviews.

Sadie’s faith was also lived out behind the scenes. Before each dance, she would have two prayers—one with her parents and one with Ballas. She also had several opportunities to share her Christian testimony.

“That’s what being a Christian is all about: going out there and taking a bold stance. It’s great to go to church every Sunday, but the people that need it (the gospel) and the mission of being of being a Christian involves going out into the world,” she explained.

“And that’s why I did it. I got nervous and scared, but I think that whenever God calls you to an opportunity—no matter what it is—if it is going to bring people to Him, then it’s worth doing. We just have to trust that He will come through.”

Right now, it looks like that next opportunity is her Live Original book tour, which will start after Christmas.

Otherwise, Sadie is waiting for God to give some direction as she waits, prays and goes about the normal aspects of her teenaged life: “If I had told you what I was going to be doing a year ago, I wouldn’t have gotten it right. So it wouldn’t even be right for me to guess what I am going to do next. I’ve had some offers that I may or may not take. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

Live Original cover

Sadie Robertson’s new book.

Joy Allmon
Joy Allmond is a Charlotte-based freelance writer. Follow her @joyallmond

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