After the ‘Home Alone’ films, a Colorado Springs woman went from child actor to Olympian | Way of life

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If sharing interesting fun facts about ourselves was a contest, Hillary Wolf Saba would win in most venues.

Her fun fact is very impressive: she competed in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics in judo.

Even if someone else could trump the Olympian thing, Saba would still have a big card to play.

For a long time, however, the Colorado Springs woman didn’t want to show that one.

It’s not like she can hide it.

Every year around Christmas, his face could be spotted wherever there were televisions. In the beloved “Home Alone” films, a young Saba plays Megan McCallister, the older sister of Macaulay Culkin’s star character.

Of several notable roles during his years as a child actor, “Home Alone” remains his most famous.

This is why podcast hosts and journalists have regularly contacted Saba to request interviews.

“There’s always been interest every year in doing press stuff,” she said. “It’s still happening 31 years later, if you can believe it.”

In the past, she always refused to talk about it. That goes for longtime friends who have never experienced Saba’s track record on the big screen. This also goes for foreigners who would correctly recognize Saba in a movie. She laughed it off and said, “No, I wasn’t in a movie.”

“I was never super motivated to talk about it,” Saba said. “So I kept quiet about that part of my life.”

But his name still pops up online every December, when the 1990 holiday classic relentlessly returns to the spotlight and sparks a flurry of “where are they now” cast stories.






Hillary and Catherine O'Hara

Hillary Wolf Saba, right, is pictured with actress Catherine O’Hara, who played the matriarch in ‘Home Alone’.




Scrolling through the latest updates on Catherine O’Hara, who played the McCallister family matriarch, along with “Schitt’s Creek” and the latest on Culkin’s acting career, there’s the relatively lesser-known name of Saba.

And there are details of the relatively different path she took.

The Chicago native never set out to be a movie star. A family friend in the movies noticed something special about 5-year-old Saba, who was more outgoing than most children and had a deeper, scratchier voice than most little girls.

His mother reluctantly fired the headshots. Within a month, Saba landed her first role in a TV movie called “A Matter of Principle” starring Alan Arkin, playing one of his daughters. Other roles followed.

“It’s something I just fell into,” says Saba. “It’s weird as a child actor. Once you get a part and show that you can act professional and you’re cute, the work just keeps coming.

Along with the first and second “Home Alone” films, Saba was the main character in a 1991 film called “Big Girls Don’t Cry…They Get Even”.

She describes those years in a surprisingly normal way. She and her family stayed in Chicago, and she only took jobs that didn’t involve much travel or time off from school.

But his childhood memories are not like us. She met famous people like Michael Jackson and dated actors from her childhood while a bodyguard chaperoned them. Her first kiss was with a guy named Shane, Macaulay Culkin’s older brother.

“I can see now how unique my childhood was,” Saba said. “Once I left the company, I think I knew, ‘Wow, I had a really weird start to life. “”

What followed was also unique.

While Saba was making movies, she was also making waves in the sport of judo. Ever since she first tried it at the age of 7, she fell in love with this form of Japanese martial art.

When she started competing, she rarely lost.

A big victory came at the age of 14. She won the United States National Judo Championships in Hawaii, beating women who were twice her age.

She quickly set her eyes on Olympic-sized dreams. It meant deciding to retire from the teenage profession.

“Most kids were dying to be successful actors, and I didn’t have that desire,” Saba said. “It was just something I did. I learned at a very young age that I didn’t want that lifestyle as an adult.

Instead, she wanted to see how far she could go with athletics. She achieved some of these goals by competing in two Olympics.

She achieved other goals by being able to live a life out of the spotlight, the kind of life her younger self knew she wanted.

She never wanted to go back to acting.






Judo

Hillary Wolf Saba quit acting to pursue her Olympic dreams.




“I have never regretted this choice to leave cinema,” Saba said. “People have asked me this over the years and the answer is literally zero times.”

Her training took her to Colorado Springs, where she stayed for college and to raise a family. After she and her husband, Chris, had their first of two sons, Saba spent years as a stay-at-home mom.

For most of those years, she rarely spoke about her chapter in the film industry.

“I’m an outgoing person and I wear my heart on my sleeve, so not sharing something like this is kind of out of place for me,” she said. “I had something weird about it.”

She preferred to be known as an Olympian, something she put all her passion and hard work into, and not as a child actress, something she didn’t necessarily pursue.

“I wanted to be known for my accomplishments as an athlete and I never wanted to get attention for being an actress,” she said.

Time has changed the way Saba sees it.

“I think when you’re younger you want to be like everyone else,” she said. “That’s what your 40s are for… embracing your uniqueness.”

Its uniqueness implies a unique pairing of experiences.

“I don’t think there are many child actors who ended up becoming Olympians,” she said. “I know that’s what makes me, me. Movies and Olympic Games.

Last May, she began a new chapter as Director of Events and Volunteers at Pikes Peak United Way. In December, she shared her story with Newsweek, which published an article titled “‘I Was in ‘Home Alone’ 1 and 2, Then I Became an Olympian.”

“I’m so glad I was able to let go of caring about what people think because over the past five years it’s become such a fun thing to share,” the story read.

She has had fun watching the movie with her friends and family for the past few years. She enjoys the “look of joy and shock” when she tells friends she was in “Home Alone.” In work meetings, bringing up the fun fact brings “levity to the conversation,” she said.

By simply sharing her story, she can make people smile. The residual checks from the movies make her smile too.

Looking back, Saba knows why she downplayed her past. But she won’t in the future, after learning this lesson: there is a way to be proud of your accomplishments without bragging.

“I’m thrilled that I can still call myself an Olympian because I feel like I’ve earned it,” she said. “I can say that I also won the acting thing.”

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