“Real Women, Real Work” is a Darling series about everyday women who work in various fields including business, entertainment, science and education. We want to get to know the WHY behind their WHAT and get an inside look into different industries.
Known for her roles on Prison Break, Daytime Divas, The Good Doctor, Cake, Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past and the Disney Channel’s Gotta Kick It Up, Camille Guaty is a triple threat in a different sense of the phrase. Outside of a successful acting career that spans decades, she is a wife, mom and co-founder of the nonprofit Foster a Dream.
“I am always surprised by how much you can handle, and I just love how it all came to fruition,” she said. “Here I am doing what I love: acting, being a mother and leading this amazing nonprofit, not knowing how it was all going to come about.”
Guaty’s story is not just one of “you can do all the things.” Instead, her story is one of perseverance and the hope found on the other side of struggle. She has been open about her struggles with pregnancy, gracing the pages of People magazine to share her story.
After trying to conceive a baby naturally, she and songwriter-producer husband, Sy Rhys Kaye, began looking into in-vitro fertilization but couldn’t get pregnant. The couple implanted several dozen of their own embryos, but nothing took. After five failed rounds of IVF and intrauterine insemination spanning a six-year period, they were spent financially and emotionally.
Guaty reached a point of self-hatred and questioning her womanhood. The thoughts of self-doubt began pouring in: Who am I if I can’t have children? Will my husband look at me differently? Will he look at a pregnant woman and think that I’m not enough?
“You never think that this is going to be your story,” Guaty said. “You feel like you can fix it, but I couldn’t.”
“You never think that this is going to be your story.”
Soon, the couple began discussing other alternatives, one of which she was adamantly against—using an egg donor. Guaty struggled to understand how she could put another woman’s egg in her body with her husband’s sperm and feel attached to the child. Coming into a place of accepting to use a donor was a difficult decision, but Guaty knew it would be an act of selflessness to give her husband a child with his DNA.
“You have to let go of a lot,” she said. “You have to let go of the idea of how you think it is going to happen.”
Their first donor produced nothing, and their second donor produced two eggs. During this time, Guaty had also begun looking into the foster care system and working with foster kids. As soon as the couple agreed to go through the foster-to-adopt system, they got word that out of two, one embryo matured. Guaty was pregnant. Finally, with the help of a donor egg, Guaty and Kaye welcomed their son, Morrison Rafael Kaye, in October of last year.
“The one thing that I learned with this IVF journey was that fertility with women is a real issue,” Guaty explained. “Just because we are career driven doesn’t mean that our fertility is going to wait for us.”
Guaty is correct about her experience with infertility not being uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 in 100 (6.1 million) women in the United States ages 15–44 have difficulty becoming or staying pregnant. Out of 100 couples in the United States, about 12 to 13 of them have trouble becoming pregnant.
The perseverance Guaty displayed throughout her pregnancy journey was not new to her but something she had cultivated throughout her acting career. One thing she has always possessed: a tenacious spirit. Her first big taste of success was when she auditioned for a national search for an NBC soap at the mall. She ended up being flown out to California where she was one of 10 chosen.
“I told myself, ‘I’m just going to go to the mall, and I’m going to do it,” she said with a smile. “Each time I did something like that it was a sparkle of reassurance that I was on the right path.”
“Each time I did something like that it was a sparkle of reassurance that I was on the right path.”
After graduating, she moved to New York to pursue acting. One defining moment that set the trajectory of her career was a time when she banged down the door of a casting director’s office and called every single day. Her persistence led to her meeting with the manager of Jennifer Lopez and eventually getting signed.
“I was relentless to the point that the assistant was like, ‘Is this Camille Guaty?’ she laughed. “‘She is busy, but she’ll call you back!'”
She would go on to sign a development deal with the WB, which is now Freeform, and she booked her first TV show alongside Kat Dennings and Brie Larson. After that, she was cast in her first movie with the Disney Channel, Gotta Kick It Up!
Looking back on her career, Guaty believes that the Disney Channel movie was the best first movie she could have gotten because it created a fanbase of young girls for Guaty right off the bat, which she says taught her a lot about being a good role model. The fandom after Gotta Kick It Up! was not something Guaty foresaw. She recalled another actor telling her that once the movie releases that she would not be able to walk through a mall.
“I thought it would be popular, but I didn’t realize to what capacity—to where today people are still saying, ‘Wait, Daisy!'” she explained. “It was overwhelming at first, but I think that I had wanted it for so long that I was ready.”
“It was overwhelming at first, but I think that I had wanted it for so long that I was ready.”
In addition to her career as an actress and life as a mom, Guaty co-founded the nonprofit, Foster a Dream, in 2018 with her long time friend, Katie Jordan. After her struggles with infertility, she began researching foster-to-adoption as an option. In the process, she found a new passion, improving the lives of foster youth in Los Angeles County. She began working closely with the Department of Children and Family Services.
The first year, they provided 300 gifts for a Christmas toy drive. The next big project was prom. With the help of industry stylists and makeup artists, as well as ample donations of dresses, suits and makeup, Guaty and team set up a “Glam Day” for the teens.
“It was eye-opening that we could achieve so much in less than a month’s time with hundreds of kids coming through and leaving completely decked to the nines, ” she said. “You saw them walk in with their walls up, and by the time they left, kids that wouldn’t look you in the eye for the first half hour, were giving us hugs and thanking us.”
“You saw them walk in with their walls up, and by the time they left, they were giving us hugs and thanking us.”
Today, Foster a Dream hosts two or three large events for foster kids a year. Their next outreach event, “Glow Up Pop Up,” is happening on May 2 in southern California, which will provide “glam services” for teens headed to prom. Ultimately, Guaty hopes to expand into a mentorship program that offers kids transitioning out of the foster care system a sense of purpose. Her vision is to host vocational workshops that offer job opportunities on the spot. She hopes to find a long-term means of sustaining happiness for the kids, by helping them find a career that they can be proud of.
Looking back, Guaty is not angry at her journey. Six years after her infertility struggles began, what has come out of it is an amazing nonprofit, strong friendships, motherhood and a great relationship with God and her husband.
“I have learned that you never know what is going to come out of your struggle, so just keep pushing, believing and having faith because what has come out of my struggle is something that I could not have imagined.”
Her journey also brought her the most beautiful little boy she could have ever imagined.
“When I am holding him, I don’t even remember the struggle.”
To learn more about Foster a Dream and how to get involved, click here. They are currently looking for sponsors! To follow along with Camille’s journey as an actress and a mom, follow her on Instagram.
Feature image via Candida Wohlgemuth