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Wife of actor Nestor Carbonell of LOST on how she friended failure on the island and found her way home

Former working actress Shannon Kenny Carbonell—wife of actor Nestor Carbonell of LOST—tells of attempting to reconcile her growing feelings of failure and sudden loss of identity.

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The following is an excerpt from All Is Not LOST: How I Friended Failure on the Island and Found a Way Home by Shannon Kenny Carbonell. Available everywhere books are sold March 2021.

January 2010

“I can’t do the red carpet with you,” I whispered to Nestor once we settled into the town car. “I’m just…ugh. I feel fat and ugly. I don’t want to be photographed.”

“You look beautiful,” he said, a little too loudly.

“Shhh. Please,” I begged. I didn’t want the driver to hear us. And then the tears came.

I tilted my head back and breathed deeply, hoping to stem the tide. My fake lashes had taken so damn long to apply. I couldn’t risk ruining them.

Nestor did as I asked: He let it go.

I kept my head back, just in case. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.

He shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. I don’t care about any of this stuff.”

It was true. He didn’t care about attention from the press or the public’s perception of him. Walking the red carpet for the premiere episode of the final season of LOST was merely a part of his job. But I also knew he’d be happier with me by his side while he courted his fans and the media. The problem was, I did care about all that stuff.

All my life I’d wanted to be a Famous Actress. Not just an actress. I’d always been desperate to be seen, to be known. Yet now I didn’t want anyone to recognize me, to survey what I’d become: an actress who had given up on her career and on maintaining her size 6 body.

But how can an invisible person be famous? Fame only exists quantitatively—there is the star, and there are the star’s many fans. That’s all there is to it. And no matter how shallow the equation of fame proved to be, I’d programmed myself to want it. So now I had a big problem: If I was noticed—noticed by large numbers of people—I existed. If I was not . . .

Hiding wasn’t simply hiding. Hiding was wiping out the equation. Hiding was erasing myself.

I apologized to Nestor again. He told me not to sweat it—again.

Once we stepped out of the car, the crowd of onlookers began calling out his name, each voice begging him to come and talk. Photographers surrounded him. The cacophony of calls, camera clicks, and the baseline buzz of chatter jolted me out of my ruminative stupor. I watched Nestor pleasing both fans and the media as he moved down the red carpet. Then I lost sight of him in the press of the crowd and the bleached fog of sea spray, sand dust, and camera flashes. He entered the land of flawless men and women spun into gods and goddesses. And I was stranded, left behind, a mortal who was forever barred from the kingdom.

I snuck away to a little tented area to wait with the other partners who didn’t want to walk the red carpet. We made small talk for a while, until suddenly the crowd gave a huge roar. I looked out from under the tent.

A Famous Actress had arrived.

Evangeline Lilly—Evie, as the cast called her—played Kate, the female lead. I thought she was excellent in her role, but I had no idea who she really was as a person. Nestor rarely worked on set with her, and she mistakenly called him Chester. He didn’t have the heart to correct her the first time, so he’d let it go until it had reached the point of no return.

She looked just like I’d always wanted to look—petite and soft. Her skin was flushed and glistening as she beamed at the people and the press. She smiled with her eyes—they crinkled and danced about as she moved through the crowd. When she lifted her slender, perfectly sculpted arm and waved, I could feel the sweat dripping down my own inner arm flab and my back-fat-minimizing bra. She had an outside I’d be glad to share with the world.

She had what I wanted.

When the fans looked at her, they probably felt they knew her. What they saw was a happy, sweet, effortless beauty who’d been blessed with talent and deserved great fortune. She was entrancing. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I sighed deeply, seeing her just as the crowd did.

I wanted to be her.

I wanted all that adoration and unconditional love heaped upon me by strangers.

I knew I had big love, true love, real love, right in front of me, three times over: one husband and two little boys. But the number felt too small. I craved quantity, not quality. Three was not thousands. Three was not millions.

The reality is, no young woman goes to Hollywood with the dream of becoming a wife and a mom. I had failed.

And so I wanted to be erased.

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