I am struggling to write an introduction that will do this interview justice. I feel like Carrie in Sex and the City when she is trying to write an email to Aidan and keeps writing, deleting, re-writing, deleting, finally settling on 3 short words. I’ve been sitting here for the last half an hour doing that exact thing, frustrated with the words coming out and feeling like they are selling it short of it’s profound impact. Seriously. When it comes to this interview, I honestly don’t know how to describe it, it is powerful for so many reasons. Akin to Carrie’s, my 3 short words: It. Is. Incredible.
I feel like I say this every week, but I can’t help it – it fills my heart up interviewing incredible women and sharing their insights, positivity, lessons and philosophies with you (disclaimer: it’s mutually beneficial for me as I get so inspired by them too) And this week is no exception, boy-oh-boy am I so freaking excited to share this special interview with you, for you to be as blown away as I have been. This interview is literally every reason and more why I wanted to create this space… to share, to collaborate, to inspire. It is real, truthful, forthright and unreservedly candid. It highlights the overarching message of For, She Is You – that kindness is paramount because at our core we are infact, all the same – all human beings with the same feelings and underlying desire: to love and be loved. And we are all beautiful, our beauty is in our uniqueness and individuality. It is a direct reminder that your dreams (and your mindset) are up to you and excuses won’t cut it. It offers so much food for thought on wholehearted kindness and why it is mandatory in life as well as shining the light (and significant importance of) women supporting each other rather than tearing each other down.
Allow me to introduce you to the beautiful, effervescent soul that is Cassandra Scerbo: actress, Vice President of Boo2Bullying, outstanding kindness advocate and all round inspiring lady. In addition to acting, she is also a singer and dancer (and yep, she’s talented at all 3) and most famed for her role in Sharknado, a role which she recently reprised for Sharknado 5. Cassie is incredible and I can tell you that you’re in for a real treat. I mean, if I got goosebumps just chatting with her, you’re most definitely going to have goosebumps from start to finish reading through her interview. She injects these incredible snippets of wisdom into every answer, and as they pour out from her heart it feels like you’re listening to an old soul share their insightful and unparalleled knowledge. And, the thing with Cassie is: it all comes from the heart – her authenticity is almost overwhelming and you can feel her passion behind everything she shares. I seriously struggled to highlight only a few quotes as I feel like every answer, every paragraph, every sentence is profound.
From the moment Cassie picked up the phone, she had that energy: you know, that larger-than-life, bubbly, friendly, encouraging, been-put-on-this-world-to-positively-impact-others type of energy. The energy that draws you in and leaves you hanging off her every word. She had me nodding, yes-ing, agreeing, smiling and bursting with excitement and inspiration throughout the entire interview. There were times it felt like I was listening to a motivational speaker, or had my own personal cheerleader. So many emotions came up for me. I mean, she had me in tears at one point when she was telling me about going into the school systems and the positive transformation they see on not just the bullied, but the bullies. Now, let me warn you…we got deep. It’s a pretty long and in-depth interview that is worthy of essay status, but I promise that once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop – you’ll get one sentence in and be hooked and when it’s over you’ll be longing for more. You will grasp onto every word, saving quotes and bookmarking this page to go back to. We cover everything from kindness, to dreams, to anxiety, to gratitude, to setbacks, to women-supporting-women, to bullying, to inspiring quotes… and everything in-between!
Cassie is a big believer in energy … and her energy is somethin’ else. Cassie has this beautiful, infectious aura of positivity. She genuinely wants to see kindness and positivity prevail in this world and she uses her profile to help be an agent of change. She is out there, doing good and shining her light. She says what she means and means what she says, she’s a guru wise beyond her years and she simply has so much goodness to give. I love how much kindness means to her, I love it because it’s how I feel. Cassie’s kindness, encouragement of those around her, ability to trust in a higher power and no BS attitude will speak to you. Cassie knows that jealousy serves absolutely no purpose, she is all for rooting on other women and wholeheartedly believes there is room for everyone to succeed and is the ultimate example that shining bright and being our best selves inspires other women to do the same.
What I love the most is her authenticity, Cassie may seem like ‘she has it all’. I mean just scratching the surface she’s stunning, inside and out, she has a positive outlook on life, she’s a successful actress, she became Vice President of a charity at 25 years old, has an incredible family, beautiful supportive friends and travels the world doing what she loves. Generally speaking, killing it, right?! But she’s real, vulnerable and an open book: she shares that she has insecurities and hang-ups, she faces doubts and hardships, she doesn’t always have her shit together and she hasn’t had an easy road to success – she’s had to work her butt off, chase her dreams and fight to get to where she is. I love that so much, she didn’t come from Hollywood royalty or have ‘connections’ in the industry, she just listened to her heart and chased her dreams. I love this because it’s real. Cassie is so genuinely real that this is her in all her glory. I love that we share a name and a passion for kindness. I also love that she loves quotes as much as I do – it must be a Cassandra thing 😉
I am SO excited for you to read this interview. I may be (slightly) biased but E V E R Y young girl and woman needs to read this interview, seriously, it is that impactful (so please share it around!). She is living proof that THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!! If you want something bad enough, chase it, fall down and get back up again, learn from the setbacks and mistakes and never ever give up until you’re there. Because it’s totally possible to be there. I hope no matter what stage of dreaming you’re up to: whether you’re just actioning one, you’re fighting hard to chase or you’ve accomplished part of and you’re onto the next…Use Cassie’s interview and her story as inspiration, as fuel to light the fire in your belly and keep going. And, no matter what you see when you look in the mirror, change that negative self talk and know that you are amazing…read Cassie’s words and believe them, because they are so true darling girl. You are beautiful, you are unique, you are capable and deserving of everything you want in life and YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Cassie is a special soul: she is real, fearless, kind, funny, capable, strong, vulnerable and everything in between. She will inspire you to always be kind, challenge your mindset, reach higher, get back up after you fall down, lift up those around you and believe that you are enough. She will remind you of your worth.
She is a phenomenal woman… For, She Is You
CASSIE SCERBO // ACTRESS
How would you describe yourself in one word?
What would you tell your younger self?
I think the hardest things I’ve gone through would be more to do with other people. I lost my best friend due to domestic violence, which is why bullying is also a super touchy subject and something I will combat for the rest of my life, especially for her. Losing relatives or going through breakups were always very hard for me because I love hard. So for me, I would tell myself this: “In time, this too shall pass”.. I’ll always keep those people in my heart but that immediate, horrible pain will subside and I’ll be able to honor them in many ways.
I also used to suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. That being said, I’d remind my younger self that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and sometimes that light is near impossible to see, but I promise my younger self and anyone who is reading this, that it EXISTS, it’s just about timing and when you’re ready to see it.
Anxiety is just built up stress: when majority of good things are going on in your life, anxiety doesn’t really seem to occur. Anxiety comes from being overwhelmed, it’s your mind going through some sort of change and saying: hang on a second…what’s going on here…what is this change in my life or what’s different. You have to sit there and think “What happened that’s bothering me?” And sometimes we don’t realize it’s being caused by a negative thing that occurred even six months ago but our brain is just catching up.
That’s why I feel like being vulnerable, open and honest are the most powerful things in the world because it allows us to not bottle things up – it allows us to move forward in life and accept feelings and emotions that we’ve gone through. You have the power to break down any walls, the willpower. It all starts in your mind.
‘You are beautiful, you are meant to be here for a reason, we all are. Every single person is equal, you have the exact same amount of beauty and power and intelligence and strength as every other individual, it’s just about believing it yourself.’
Your all-time-hands-down-favorite self love ritual?
I’m a big believer in The Secret (The Law of Attraction) and in gratitude. I’ve recently been given (by my mother) The Secret Gratitude book by Rhonda Byrne. I think the most important thing is writing down all the things I am grateful for everyday. What makes me feel driven, proud and ultimately whole. That would be my favorite self-love ritual.
Basically, you write down the things that you want, but you write them in present tense and set up a whole future for yourself. It sets you up for success. It’s important to not just do it for things that are wanted for career goals either, you could put anything on the list: things about your body, things about your personality, all types of things you’re grateful for. “I’m grateful for being an empathetic person because I wound up saving this person’s life” or what not. I think practicing gratitude towards ourselves and towards others and just in life in general is so important. I guess that would be the most ritual type thing I do.
In general, when you are confident you can actually see it, I have always preached that and I notice it. If I’m on a red carpet and let’s just say I wasn’t feeling confident that day, I will see it in that picture. The most beautiful you will ever look is when you’re happy and when you’re happy, you’re confident. It’s not about being 10 pounds thinner or having your highlights refreshed. We always think it’s these little things, but really at the end of the day, people talk about this “inner beauty” and maybe some find it to sound cliche, but it’s so true: your inner beauty really does exude through you. I always tell girls, if we all looked the same it would be such a boring planet. The things that make us unique are the things that make us beautiful as a whole, and I really do mean that.
People fall in love with people due to so many different reasons, there might be something that you can’t stand about yourself that someone else loves. I always hated taking pictures from the right side of my face, it sounds silly but a lot of us have a “side.” I remember a makeup artist telling me once ‘oh my God is this your good side? I love this side, you look so beautiful from this side, you look much more exotic’ – and it was my right side! Everyone has a different set of eyes, so something you might think isn’t beautiful, is gorgeous to someone else. We’re our absolute worst critics. Really own everything that you are.
‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Love yourself. Use any negativity in life to fuel you.’
Is there something you wish was universally instilled in girls from a young age?
Oh yeah, so much!! There’s room for everyone to succeed in life. That’s where I’ll start.
There’s room for everyone to succeed and everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. The jealousy thing, it really doesn’t do anything for anyone. I wish that could be instilled. I always like that phrase ‘talking about somebody doesn’t make you any more aesthetically beautiful’, speaking badly about people or doing this or doing that is not going to immediately drop money in your bank account or change something about yourself that at the moment you’re not liking.
As you always preach, I as well believe in spreading kindness and there’s no need for “competition.” Unless it’s healthy competition, that’s different! It’s so true that in life, everything happens for a reason and what’s meant to be yours will be yours. And if it’s not meant to be yours, why would you want to compete with somebody over it or take a selfish route in getting something?! Wouldn’t you rather earn your way to the right job or goal? There are things in this world that are set for all of us. It doesn’t mean don’t work hard but the competition and the negativity? Really only does reflect on yourself.
It’s all about energy and I’m a big believer in energy so just being able to have girls root for each other, that would be incredible and only make us all feel more beautiful. It’s a chain reaction. When one person feels beautiful, feels confident, feels strong.. they spread this on to others. If one girl tells another girl how brave and strong and intelligent she is, that girl then has this desire to now pass this along to another girl.
Exing out the jealousy and insecurity, and realising that positive energy and whatever you put out into the world really does come back at you in every which way, that’s what it’s all about. Which is why I always bring up The Secret, The Law Of Attraction: if you’re putting out negative energy, that negativity is only going to come back to you. It’s not really going to do anything for you. Sometimes we get angry for whatever may have happened in our lives but spreading positivity will always make you more of a positive and happy person. Exing out the competition and rooting for each other more. I can’t preach it enough!
‘Social media in this day and age has everyone thinking we all live these perfect lives, but we all have hardships, every single person that you’re staring at thinking “she’s perfect, she’s this, she’s that” – she has her hang ups, she has her insecurities, she has her stresses, it’s natural.’
The single best piece of advice you have ever received and how has it shaped you?
This can go for so many different things but I was actually at a Bible study and it came from Alexa Vega who I look up to: she’s one of those females that has this energy that when she walks into a room she lights it up and makes everybody feel comfortable and safe and beautiful, she’s an amazing woman. About a year ago, we were at a Bible study that a mutual friend was holding and I don’t remember the exact conversation but basically we were all talking about struggles in life, you know with finances or whatever it may be. Alexa basically preached Law Of Attraction / Gratitude in her own way. She explained how she was really eager and looking to book a role and instead of getting down about it she simply said ‘Thank you God’ (or thank you Universe, whatever somebody would like to think of it as)… Thank you for what’s to come. That day or the next day she booked a job. Instead of asking the Universe for things, sometimes we have to just thank it for what’s to come. Positive mentality. That’s exactly what the gratitude book preaches – putting out good vibes and watching them come back to you. Everything in life has a frequency or energy, it’s so true – I know it sounds so “LA hippy” – but it’s proven itself over and over again. It’s just a healthier lifestyle and mindset overall.
So then I had decided to do it, I was in the same position where I was turning down jobs because I was so scared of being stereotyped and so scared of this and of that -which we can get into a whole ‘nother day- in this industry. I remember I started getting low on money and my bank account was dropping and I was like OK, I just heard Alexa say this and I’m going to try it. I sat down and said ‘Thank you God for what’s to come’… and funny story, my mom called me the next day and told me she went to the bank to cash out a savings account that she had put aside for my sister, Alaina. She was telling the banker that she was there to open up the account for her daughter, to which he replied, Oh, Cassandra? – and my mom said no she doesn’t have one in here, it’s for Alaina. The banker said there’s one in here for Cassandra too actually, and she was like, seriously?! It was a great little amount of money that got me through the next few months until I booked my next job and I realized this works, I swear this works! Maybe some will say it’s just a coincidence, but at the end of the day I decided not to stress about it because stressing about things doesn’t change anything. If anything, it makes them worse. So.. I would say that’s the best advice, in all, would just be to be grateful and instead of asking for things, to thank the Universe for what’s to come.. and that can go for anything.
You know, even if someone’s feeling like they’re lacking some self confidence, which happens to all of us at times, maybe thanking the Universe for how beautiful you’re going to see yourself tomorrow. You will seriously be so surprised at what that mindset does for you. I just wrote this on one of my instagram posts (but I always say this because it’s so interesting to me); You think of different time periods of your life and how they may have felt when you look back at them, there’s a different vibe overall and maybe it was where you were living, what you were doing or who you were dating but we’re on a planet where the sun comes up and goes down everyday and nothing changes in-between but our goals, actions and mindset. It’s really all just in your mind, you know, those feelings that some people have where they think back like “I felt so much more confident or so much happier back then”, but it’s like hey, you can feel that way tomorrow! The sun is gong to go down tonight and come up tomorrow and your life’s happiness and achievements all lay in your mind.
What characteristics / values do you admire in the women that you surround yourself with or look up to?
Honesty, strength and vulnerability. I think that being vulnerable is the strongest thing to be, actually. I think it’s completely misconstrued and people feel like being honest, vulnerable and open is a weakness, but I think the complete opposite. Vulnerability and honesty represent fearlessness. It’s so powerful.. so the women that I surround myself with or look up to, I feel like they embody all of those traits.
People like Alexa for example. I also look up to Sophia Bush (huge fan of her IG!), two friends of mine AnnaLynne McCord and Serinda Swan. I’m not around them all the time but I look up to these women because they’re simply fearless, they’re not afraid to speak their minds. Being able to be fearless in your thoughts, feelings and actions and to be confident in what you’re saying and honest and open and emotional and vulnerable – ALL of those things make for a recipe of an incredible, well-rounded and strong woman.
On another note, this has been on my mind a lot recently.. It’s very important that we make sure girls see that we’re all just people. You know, social media in this day and age has everyone thinking we all live these perfect lives, but we all have hardships, every single person that you’re staring at thinking “she’s perfect, she’s this, she’s that” – she has her hang ups, she has her insecurities, she has her stresses, it’s natural. Sometimes not being okay is an okay thing, we’re not superheroes, we’re human. And a lot of the challenges we go through and overcome in life help shape our character and allow for growth as an individual.
‘I feel like rooting for people and cheering people on only allows us to fulfill our dreams, our ambitions, our goals, that much quicker. The more we root on other people and spread good vibes and spread positive energy, the more good will come our way.’
How do you combat self doubt and negative self talk?
I’ve always been a very positive person. Especially living in Hollywood, it’s important to have thick skin. I don’t really allow the things that I see in this town that I feel are wrong or negative to get to me. Sometimes that Hollywood energy is stressful, everyone is kind of in competition with one another and it’s a cut-throat city, but I don’t let it get to me, I just live my life.
Now, I’m not going to lie, I do have moments where I stress of course, I’m only human, but I think it really starts with being an optimistic person – I keep reverting back to the same thing, but it’s mindset. Also going back on the thick skin talk, I think that’s actually why I’ve been able to take on this industry, you have to be that way, and you have to let negative things go in one ear and out the other otherwise you could fall apart. I don’t dwell on negativity or the things that are bothering me. If I’m going through something, I try and find the solution as opposed to sitting there and dwelling, it’s not going to get me anywhere.
Innately, I’ve always been a pretty strong-willed person, the truth is I feel that there are peer pressures in this town or things you feel you need to live up to – whether it’s aesthetics or careerwise – but at the end of the day, people will praise you for simply being you. I’ve always felt that I get the most praise – not that I’m searching for praise – but I feel that you’re always looked up to and praised the most by just being a good person. At the end of the day it’s all that matters, and it always feels the best to know that you’re being yourself, being honest. People admire that the most I feel. There are some people that sway from who they are.. maybe they think they’ll book a job this way or “get more followers” if they do this or if they start dressing like that, but when you revert back to being yourself and doing what you love I think that’s always the best look for everybody.
Something you don’t tell yourself enough?
I think it’s more of a career thing for me, I’m so focused and busy trying to book the next job, impact a bigger audience of people, whether it be dancing, singing, acting, my charity etc, I’m always so focused on the NEXT THING. A lot of the time I forget to stop and take a second and look at all the things I have accomplished for a 27 year old; being signed to Geffen Interscope Records, dancing and touring all around the world, singing and dancing at The Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade and The Super Bowl halftime show multiple times, being on a show for 4 years that got nominated for Teen Choice Awards and what not, the Indy films I’ve done.. And a lot of times I laugh at Sharknado; when I bring up that project I can’t help but get insecure immediately or get scared of what people are going to say so I’ll just laugh it off. The truth is, obviously it’s a silly, ridiculous film but you know what, I am PROUD of it and this is the first year, in five years, I have used the word proud when it comes to that franchise, not just excited but I am proud of it. We did something that a lot of people have been trying to reenact and they just haven’t been able to, we really found the perfect recipe for this awesome, hilarious, fun cult classic. So I think it’s just giving myself the credit for how hard I have worked and how many things I have done in such a difficult city. That’s what I feel I should tell myself more.
‘It’s as simple as believing in yourself and not stopping. It doesn’t matter the rejections, the this, the that, just don’t ever forget why you started, how bad you wanted it and that should take you as far as you’d like it to.’
What does kindness mean to you and how can we cultivate it on a day-to-day basis?
Kindness means EVERYTHING to me, I am the Vice President of an anti-bullying organization so it literally means everything in the world to me! (Giggles) All of us that have these platforms need to keep using them for good. Obviously nowadays the internet and social media are so prominent in our day to day lives that if we can start to use these platforms for the good, for the better and for positive usage I think we can move mountains. If you think about the amount of followers people have, I think there could be a lot more good being done. That’s what I try to use my platform for. Obviously I’m going to be real as well, I love fashion and I love cooking so I like to give followers a full feel for my lifestyle, but I try as much as possible to spread positivity, post uplifting quotes and interact with fellow friends and followers. I feel like the world can use a lot more of that.
When I’ve gone into schools to speak on behalf of my charity, I’ve noticed how kids and teenagers think it’s the uncool thing to spread optimism, be nice, to be different, to “care”. I remember seeing this when I was in school as well. Students are so in fear of these bullies, and so scared to “snitch,” or not seem cool or “tough”.. I try to explain to them “Think about firemen, doctors etc., those people go into combat every day in different ways, shapes and forms and are saving lives, trying to do good and change the world. Do you look at a fireman and laugh or think they’re weak because they’re always stepping up to the plate by trying to save people?” “You don’t look at them and laugh or think of them as uncool.”
For some reason students always have this idea in their head that the bad guys are the cool guys. They’re not. At all. The coolest thing you can be, is someone who doesn’t care about who thinks they’re “cool”, and for the wrong reasons especially. Being a strong-willed and simply good person is always the “coolest” and most admirable person to be. Watch how many people look up to you when you become THAT person. Fearless, loving..
Teaching our children, our sisters, our nieces, our nephews – teaching them from a young age that kindness is not weakness, it’s strength and it’s ultimately saving lives at times – this is what we must teach. You really never know what kind of battle someone is fighting behind closed doors and you don’t know how you could actually change, inspire and even save someone’s life by simply being KIND.
I have a quick story to share, I was in 6th grade and this girl was getting bullied and I wasn’t very aware of it, I would go to school, do my work, leave – I was very focused with soccer, dance etc at that age, I never found it in my heart to waste time on nonsense or to be a bully – not even kidding you, I don’t even like to kill ants! (Laughs) It’s just not in me. Anyway, I got called to the principals office, and because I was the kind of kid who was all about my work and not breaking any rules, I thought ‘Oh my gosh what am I getting called in for?!’ I was SWEATING on the way. So I get in, sit down and they said: there’s a girl in your class who wants to befriend you because she’s getting bullied and you’re the only person to have been nice to her and to have reached out to her. First of all, I was like phew, thank God I’m not in trouble but second of all I came to find that that little girl was dealing with a hard situation in her own life: her dad was battling cancer, and then she had to come to school every day and have kids bully her and be cruel to her.
Nowadays, kids have to go home and deal with a revolving, 24 hour cycle – they’ve got social media, they’ve got the internet etc, and I could only imagine this poor girl having to deal with all of that back then as well! No one knew this battle she was fighting but because I was kind and stayed away from drama and negativity, she opened up to me. From there on out, I stood up for her, I didn’t care what anyone thought and I feel like the good will always prevail. We became friends, I invited her to my birthday and I said if anyone else didn’t want to come, please just leave and they all came anyway and realized that doing the good thing is actually the coolest thing to do, being kind is actually the coolest kind of person you can be because you’re the strongest; you don’t care what people think, you don’t let people affect you.
We kept in touch for years and years and little did I know that by just being nice I could have possibly saved this girls life, a girl who was dealing with a heartbreaking scenario at home that no one knew about because they were too busy making fun of her to get to know her. If anything, she had a friend in me. Being lonely is the worst thing on the planet.
We must teach and instill this in our children, to be kind, to take people in. A lot of times it’s not the bullies fault, there are so many sides of the spectrum.. sometimes it’s just innate and people are naturally mean, but for the most part, hardships going on in a child’s home life a lot of the time causes them to bully, rebel or act out. It’s a cycle, a revolving circle, but if we can all teach our kids kindness, it WILL change the world. Bullying starts in elementary school or before that even, if we can teach love and acceptance to our kids from a very young age, I’m not even kidding you, the world would be a much better place. The universe will always reward those for being kind, it’s just the way it works.
‘I always tell girls, if we all looked the same it would be such a boring planet. The things that make us unique are the things that make us beautiful as a whole, and I really do mean that.’
Tell us a little about Boo2Bullying, why you got involved and why it’s a cause close to your heart?
I was on this show called Make It Or Break It and I played the bully. My character had a lot of layers and at first, after the pilot, everyone hated her (you should’ve seen the tweets I got), but I took it with a grain of salt because I was like, “I guess I’m doing my job (giggles).” However, as the show unfolded and the story unfolds you come to see that she has a very hard homelife, dealing with her abandonment issues from her mom leaving her as a kid, an over-competitive father that’s constantly pushing her and so forth. It made me realize that I want to be able to get into these school systems and explain to the kids that are being bullied, “hey, that person is probably very sad or lonely or hurting themselves and that is why this is happening.” Don’t hurt yourself, don’t harm yourself, don’t get down on yourself because that person is most likely only bullying you because they are unhappy with themselves.
It made me want to go into these systems and save the bullied and the bullies and kind of speak from every single end of the spectrum. It was important for me to open up this conversation. We do a lot of school speaking. We find it most important to create a safe environment, a comfort zone for all. We explain about how being honest and vulnerable and kind is courageous… we tell our stories. By the end, there’s always one person who puts their hand up who wants to come up on the stage and share their story, and as that person gets off the stage you notice two more hands go up, and then three. It becomes a domino effect.
Being brave and being courageous is always the way to go, it’s the most impactful towards other people and we basically show that within the students themselves. When they do come up and tell their stories, they are inspired because we do it first, but then other kids are inspired by the other students themselves.. Some have even come up on stage explaining that they’ve been a bully and how sorry they’re are for it. They’ve sat there in front of these auditoriums filled with other students and even apologized, sometimes all they want is to be forgiven and to move forward in life. It’s a beautiful thing.
We create conversations, I think that’s the most important thing and I think it’s what a lot of school systems are lacking and it’s not necessarily teachers or administration’s fault, it’s just that I’ve studied this stuff for a living, I see it all the time and sometimes the school systems don’t really know exactly what to do in certain scenarios and also kids aren’t always going to be open and honest because it’s a hard thing to do. That’s why we create these safe environments and we make it very uplifting for them. We empower them to share their stories – the good, the bad and the ugly, you’ll be accepted as long as you move forward as a good person who wants to be kind to others.
Our vision is “Artists Awakening the World”, so we have many allies, ambassadors and people on our board who are incredible and talented artists – we have an Olympian, an NFL player, a Nickelodeon actress, Skylar Grey, an amazing young street artist and the list goes on. James Franco has even repped us by posing in one of our shirts. All different forms of art and artists we use as a platform. We feel like it’s such a great way to express all of our thoughts and feelings and to get other people to listen.
We have multiple programs and assemblies, we have a new program we’re working on called the Palm Springs International Animation Festival where the guy that’s heading it is giving out classes for kids: part of our art therapy. We also like to hold fun events that bring people together, we just had our annual Back-to-School pool party on Sunday.
The cause is very important to me. To spread love and kindness. Kindness is one of my favorite words and as I mentioned before, it means everything to me. Bullying doesn’t discriminate, every single person has been there and can understand and help one another out – everyone can relate to some form of it whether they’ve had a personal experience or maybe someone in their family or one of their friends dealt with it. It’s something that’s so big and so broad, but could so easily be fixed and changed with one thing, kindness.
‘The sun is gong to go down tonight and come up tomorrow and your life’s happiness and achievements all lay in your mind.’
How can we, as a collective, put an end to bullying?
Being open and honest. Even if you’ve done wrong, even if you’ve been the bully. Be open and form a conversation: the bigger the conversation – the better. The more people you can reach, you can touch, you can inspire – the better. It’s all about being open, honest, it’s being accepting and it’s always allowing your energy to be a safe place, kind of like what we do in those rooms – the amount of hands that go up, the amount of lives that are transformed in front of my own eyes because we’ve created a SAFE environment is absolutely incredible.
If you could offer someone who is being bullied a piece of advice, what would it be?
You are beautiful, you are meant to be here for a reason, we all are. Every single person is equal, you have the exact same amount of beauty and power and intelligence and strength as every other individual, it’s just about believing it yourself.
Also, learn to take negativity with a grain of salt, let it go in one ear and out the other because you know who you are better than anyone else. No one can define you, there’s an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Love yourself. Use any negativity in life to fuel you. Hate and negativity happen, we can’t really help it and I can’t sit here and say that there will be a time when there’s zero hate or negativity in this world (it’s a dream for sure) but what I can say, is that the most important thing is the way that you protect yourself from it. We can’t control everything in life, but we CAN CONTROL the way we react, the way we treat ourselves and learn and grow. NO ONE can make you feel inferior without YOUR CONSENT. Remember that. You hold all the power of who you are and who you want to be and it’s never too late to turn ANYTHING around in life. Every day is a new beginning.
As I was talking about using negativity as your fuel.. I always took the things that people said or did that were hurtful or cruel and used it as my fuel. It lit something up inside of me and made me want to succeed even more, made me want to prove people wrong. People can tell you whatever they want to tell you but you know who you are and you know better than anyone else, it doesn’t matter what someone calls you, what someone says, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE and there’s no one more powerful or stronger than you because we are equal no matter who or what tries to say different.
Back to the “snitch” thing. If something is getting to a point where it’s becoming physical or scary in any way, telling someone is the smart thing to do, no matter who has brainwashed you different. IT IS the cool thing, the BRAVE thing to do. Because if you don’t, one – you can get badly inured or hurt but two – the next person in your shoes will wind up getting hurt and it’ll never end because this bully is getting away with it, and no one is standing up to her or him… so not only are you sticking up for yourself and saving yourself in telling an elder, but you could be saving a lot of people that are going to be bullied by this person after you. And hey, you may even save the bully himself by having someone step in and handle the issue. Maybe THEY are going through something tough, because people who bully usually have some underlying issues pushing them to do such.
‘Being able to be fearless in your thoughts, feelings and actions and to be confident in what you’re saying and honest and open and emotional and vulnerable – ALL of those things make for a recipe of an incredible, well-rounded and strong woman.’
What real advice do you have for betting on yourself, believing in your dreams and chasing them?
I came from a small town with not one person in my family or anyone surrounding me being a part of the entertainment industry. “Nothing is impossible” : that’s been my favorite quote, always has been. With that mindset you can move mountains, you can do whatever it is you set out to do in life. There are so many scenarios you can read up on and so many people who have made it that have come from nothing or the most difficult of situations.
But in general, we’re all just people. No one actually has more than you, we just all have our own unique qualities. I always thought, if someone else has made it because they are an incredible actress, why can’t I make it? Some things seem so far fetched, but nothing is. We’re all just people. If someone else had talent and a dream and a chance, what is holding ME back?
It doesn’t just go for actresses: whatever you want to be in life, other people have done it before you so you’re no different than that person. We’re all just people, equal and talented in our own ways. It’s as simple as believing in yourself and not stopping. It doesn’t matter the rejections, the this, the that, just don’t ever forget why you started, how bad you wanted it and that should take you as far as you’d like it to.
‘We can’t control everything in life, but we CAN CONTROL the way we react, the way we treat ourselves and learn and grow. NO ONE can make you feel inferior without YOUR CONSENT. Remember that. You hold all the power of who you are and who you want to be and it’s never too late to turn ANYTHING around in life. Every day is a new beginning.’
How have you learnt to defy labels and be strong in the industry you’re in, that perhaps girls and women can apply in their everyday life?
This is a good one. You know that this is one of my biggest fears? To be stereotyped or labelled. I have so much more to offer the world than just one genre (if we’re talking career), one label, one thing in general, in any way. I think keeping that mindset and not letting ANYBODY tell me differently, being strong willed, is how I’ve battled any form of a label. God, I hate that word!! (Giggles)
Once again, we know who we are – every individual knows their talent, knows themselves, whether we want to admit it or not, we know ourselves better than anyone else. There may be certain things we don’t see aesthetically, as we touched before, but you know who you are and what fires up your soul.
You know yourself, you know what you’re capable of, never let somebody tell you different. That’s one thing I can’t wait to continue to prove in this industry. When I started out, I was a young girl with very blonde hair and a cheerleader-type of look if you will. I was in a pop girl group, I did the Bring It On franchise, then went on to Make It Or Break It etc.
However, I’ve gotten to go on and do so many different things because I didn’t let that hold me back. I changed up my hair color and got to play this really cool role in Sharknado, that for me, fulfilled that action-type role I had always wanted to play. I continued to believe in myself and put that energy out in the Universe, that I will not be labeled, and it came back to me.. I got to play a really bad ass street artist in a short film called “Graffiti” which wound up recently being selected for opening night (1 of 8, out of 7,000 submissions) at Hollyshorts – which is the biggest short film festival in LA, Oscar qualifying. It’s such a different type of character, such a different type of role. I’ve had the honor of being shouted out on Inide Wire and even included in an interview for The Hollywood Reporter, both of which were huge for me.
It’s constantly all about constantly stepping to the plate, being fearless, putting in the work and proving yourself – not letting anyone define you. It’s that same Eleanor Roosevelt quote in a sense but with being “defined.” I just shot another film called Truth Or Dare where I got to dig in and play in this gory feature. I had to go to some really dark places. For me, I defy it by not stopping. I will not let someone label me, I will not let it happen, I will continue to prove myself every time around and the more someone wants to label me or stereotype me, put me in a box, the more inspired I get and it makes me do better and teach higher.
‘You really never know what kind of battle someone is fighting behind closed doors and you don’t know how you could actually change, inspire and even save someone’s life by simply being KIND.’
As a collective, why is it integral for girls and women to champion, support and build each other up rather than tearing one another down?
I feel like rooting for people and cheering people on only allows us to fulfill our dreams, our ambitions, our goals, that much quicker. The more we root on other people and spread good vibes and spread positive energy, the more good will come our way. Being surrounded by sophisticated, successful, empowered, happy people only makes you so much more of all those things. You are your surroundings..
For me, it’s all about rooting my friends on. If one of my girlfriends has an audition for a movie, I’m going to root her on so hard even if I didn’t get that audition, because once she gets it, she’s going to inspire me and motivate me by seeing her talent shine. It’s about seeing things in that light. Basically the same as I was saying before, spreading positivity and being a light only brings more light and positivity your way.
It’s never been any other way for me. Everything happens for a reason – another of my favorite quotes (I’m obsessed with quotes! – laughs). It feels good to cheer people on, to uplift people in general. I’m a giver. Take, take!! Because the more I give, the more fulfilled I am.
Another one of my favorite quotes that stuck with me ever since a Pastor said it is, When you give your life away, life is given to you. I don’t mean give away in a scary sense but the more you give, the more you are given by the Universe. Same as those who love the hardest, sometimes wind up hurting the hardest. But at the end of the day, you will come out the most strong and you will always wind up feeling the most fulfilled for all the love you’ve given and endeavors you’ve put your whole heart into. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Your favorite quote that always inspires you?
As stated before, ‘Nothing is impossible’ has always stuck with me. As I’ve also stated above, I love the Eleanor Roosevelt quote: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. These quotes are powerful and go for anything and everything in life. Be strong, be courageous, live a FULFILLED life because YOU chose to.