By: Andy Morales
Growing up in a small town in New Mexico, Bobbi had dreams of her own. “I was a small town country girl with big town dreams,” Bobbi said. “But how could I ever realize those dreams when I was always more dirty than clean?”
It was a hard life filled with riding and shooting for a purpose. Shooting cans, ground squirrels and coyotes with friends and riding for her father to work a ranch, Bobbi didn’t know it at the time, but she was building a foundation for what would eventually lead her to the big screen and the covers of numerous magazines.
It seems dreams in fairy tales always require a fairy godmother of sorts and Bobbi found one in her own mother, Betty Whiteley.
“I went to live with my mother when I was 15 and she taught me how to ride a horse for competition and show,” Bobbi explained. “She wanted me to know everything there was beyond working a horse and it was something I wasn’t allowed to do before. I wanted it. I was ready for it.”
And she was.
Bobbi became a local rodeo queen and then the rodeo queen of the whole state of New Mexico in the mid 1990s. It was there, at the state fair, where a talent agent approached her and asked to visit with her once her reign as the Rodeo Queen was over.
Not being afraid of adventure, Bobbi was used to taking chances and used to work. She was used to hard work. But the idea of modeling was intriguing and it would definitely be an adventure, even if she didn’t see in herself what was very obvious to others.
“I went and saw her after my rodeo queen days and I asked her what I could offer because I wasn’t tall and beautiful,” Bobbi said. “She told me I had nothing to worry about.”
Not beautiful? Bobbi landed a job that day and has never looked back. “I had job after job after job. I was dependable, always showed up early and left last,” Bobbi offered as one reason why she was always in demand. “I was told I should go to Los Angeles if I wanted my career to really take of.”
Bobbi landed with a group of close friends in California and she quickly learned the life a stand-in, a stunt woman, actress and model. But she also discovered the darker side of Hollywood and came home.
“I came back home with my tail between my legs,” Bobbi said with a giggle, “It was a cutthroat atmosphere but I learned a lot.” Appearing in almost two dozen films, television shows and movies including Walker Texas Ranger, A Horse for Summer, Gunfghters of the Southwest and Deadly Sanctuary, Bobbi had realized most of her dreams but she found there was so much more.
Bobbi lived in Scottsdale for a while but moved to Stanfeld, Arizona and built a life with her husband Jim and son Rowdy. They built a home on one of the last remaining portions of John Wayne’s Red River Ranch. It was the portion where Wayne would land his plane for bird hunting. In fact, their driveway was Wayne’s runway.
Their cattle number has decreased over the years but the dreams still remain high with Rowdy getting ready to study life behind the camera. “He has such a good eye,” Bobbi said of her young son. “We read my scripts together and he offers me advice on my lines and wants to direct.
One thing I want people to know is to never try to change someone’s dreams.” Bobbi continued to dream bigger and bigger herself and was able to promote the Western lifestyle through her stint as host of the “Arizona Country TV” program in 2012.
“I feel I will get my own show again,” Bobbi offered. “I know it. I want to introduce the world to the what we have here in the west.”
Bobbi has shot with some of the best photographers in the world and almost all of the clothing she wears is her own. What you see is what you get with Bobbi. She is the real deal. “I am so honored to be able continue my work with director Nancy Criss and her projects.”
Bobbi plays Judine Bailey in the new Criss project called ‘Fishes ‘n Loaves.’ The television series will revolve around the story of a minister, “…from a tough inner city neighborhood is reassigned to a small, rural church, he and his family must adjust to their new surroundings.”
Also on the horizon for Bobbi is a project from Ravenna Old & New West Vestures called ‘ Cowgirl Town.’ Set in the style of a hero from a comic book, Bobbi plays Onawah. Her character is a tracker who starts most of the trouble in the project that will use stylized costumes to help set it apart form other westerns.
The fact that ‘Cowgirl Town’ follows the reunion of four former “Outlaw Ladies” rather than the usual strong male character is not lost on what Bobbi herself has accomplished.
“I’m living the dream right now,” Bobbi added. “Young girls ask me for advice all the time and I want them to know it can happen. It will happen.