+ By Leigh Glenn + Photos by Linda Vanoff
The second thing you’ll want to know about Sixx Orange—after how she chooses her hair colors—is where she got that name.
Because her father, Frankie Orange III, suffered mix-ups from being a “third,” he wanted something different for her. He adapted the name Six, the best friend of early 1990s sitcom character Blossom, by adding another x, to give Sixx a bigger boost of unique.
The xxs mark a spot of light, fun, creativity, and a no-holds-barred approach to running down dreams—playing soccer, learning guitar, and, at 12, leaving hometown Annapolis for Los Angeles to pursue acting.
Orange counts her father—who coordinates one-off festival logistics for hip-hopper Drake and remotely manages the business aspects of his West Street shop, Orange Tattoo—as a favorite inspiration. Their love for each other, as well as an all-too-rare centeredness, are as radiant as Orange’s hair.
“When I can be stressed about something, he says, ‘Keep focused and have fun and do what you’re meant to do.’ If I can be half the person he is, then I’m complete, I’m good.”
She is better than good. In March 2014, Orange, who’d spend her summers at acting camp, was in California for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards and heard about an audition. She got the script from her agent, with whom she had just started working, tried out the next day, and enjoyed it so much she decided to make a serious commitment to the art.
Orange and her father settled in Los Angeles that July, and in August, she auditioned for the part of a seventh-grade soccer player who moves cross-country to a new school and a new team.
She had a similar experience when she transitioned from elementary school in Gambrills to Crofton Middle School, where she knew no one, though it turned out to be a great experience. Moving to Los Angeles, she wondered, “What if I don’t find any friends?” But she’s found many—through soccer and acting.
At the audition, she was in her element: “I got to play like I was shooting a goal.” She landed the role of Devin, star of The Kicks, released by Amazon Studios in July. It’s based on the novel by US Olympic soccer gold medalist Alex Morgan. The new team’s performances aren’t up to snuff, and Devin must step up her field and interpersonal skills to get through the conflicts and find positive solutions. Viewers raved about the pilot, which led Amazon to pick up the series in early November. “I think the reason why is, it’s real!”
Viewers raved about the pilot. “I think the reason why is, it’s real,” says Orange. “It not only inspires kids,”—parents have told her their children now want to play soccer—“but also in the competition between the girls, it’s not cheesy. Girls are going to be ‘mean,’ but you’ll understand why, how to take it, and what the interpretation was—and you’ll understand not to make it your fault.”
Depersonalizing things, staying present, feeling grateful for what is—whether time with her father watching TV, hiking area canyons, or people-watching at Venice Beach—are apparent in both daughter and father.
Frankie Orange shares with his daughter the lessons his parents taught him: do well in school, stay out of trouble, and you can control your own destiny. His rule for her: “You can try anything that you want. But you have to complete the season, the segment, however much time we had to commit.”
Soccer and acting are huge commitments: homeschooling four to five hours a day, going to auditions, and then either soccer practice or acting lessons. It also means missing family back in Maryland and keeping up with friends through social media. When activities get too serious, it means listening to a reminder from her father that it’s good just to enjoy being the age you are. That translates into fun things, like making baking videos—anything with chocolate!—with friend Bella (Isabella Acres), who played Mirabelle in The Kicks.
And about those ever-changing hair colors: Orange draws inspiration from other people’s hair colors and the seasons. █