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Brave

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It seems as though the box office has had a parallel effect on my inbox! While Noah’s flood poured into theaters all over the world, submissions poured similarly into my chancyjohnson.com. Talented artists from all over the United States- LA, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, NYC, and Charleston- made the decision on who to feature next especially hard. But as my stack of “Look Into” artists continued to grow, I could not escape one name. One name stuck out like a redhead in a group of albinos- Hayley Gripp: actress, model, and advocate for bullied children.

I’ll admit that my choice was somewhat biased- Hayley works to help other people, not all who submitted do. I suppose that my decision was somewhat rooted in the fact that I believe entertainment should mean something. I won’t apologize for that. Before I get to my interview with Hayley, here’s the quick rundown on who she is: Hayley Gripp is an actress and model from Los Angeles, California. She has appeared on television multiple times as both an actress and herself, in projects ranging from CSI to the Teen Choice and People’s Choice Awards. Hayley uses her influence as an advocate for both anti-bullying programs and Tourette Syndrome research. She was chosen by the Tourette Syndrome Association to be Southern California’s “Youth Ambassador”. Diagnosed with Tourettes herself, Hayley speaks to kids from experience, spreading the message of love and hope to kids with TS and their families. When I asked about Hayley’s thoughts on bullying, she stated her approach clearly: “I believe in not only helping the victim, but the bully as well. Usually bullies are victims themselves. If you simply help the victim and not the bully, the bully will move on and bully someone else.”

As I had anticipated from her initial email, Hayley was an absolute pleasure to work with. I could tell from our talk that she had a huge heart, and was genuinely passionate about her work. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at what Hayley had to say:

[Chancy] “It’s been a pleasure getting to know a little bit more about you, Hayley. I’m curious, what first brought you into show business?”

[Hayley] “Acting has always been my passion. I came to the realization as a child that through putting on “shows” at home, or acting in school theatre, that I could bring smiles to other people’s faces. I associated being a performer with making other people, and myself happy. Even though I stuck to theatre in high school, I always knew I wanted to be on camera. In my freshman year of college, a friend who is a model suggested I get into modeling because casting directors love natural red hair. After I turned nineteen, I slowly got my feet wet in modeling and began to book ads on my own for products such as ‘As Seen On TV’ and a few different look books. At this point, I had a full time after school nanny job and couldn’t pursue modeling full time. After that job ended in July 2013, I said, ‘If I’m about to pursue modeling full time, why am I not pursuing what I love, acting?” It was now the beginning of August 2013 when I began to chase my dream of becoming an actress. Flash forward eight months and I have appeared on CSI, Hollywood Hillbillies, Hallmark and a Lifetime Original Series, shot six commercials, recorded my first single and shot the music video for an anti-bullying song titled “Peace and Love” in collaboration with King Green and hosted a pretty big anti-bullying red carpet event February 1st 2014 called ‘The First Annual NO BULL Music Showcase’ which raised funds and awareness for the Great American NO BULL Challenge. I am set to stat shooting an anti-bullying kids television show in June as well! When not on set, I travel the country giving motivational speeches on anti-bullying to schools. I can honestly say that it has been an amazing and crazy journey, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I have met so many incredible people in the industry. I only surround myself with positive people, and I know I have made some life long friends.”

 

[Chancy] “Your work goes beyond being an actress and a model. I noticed that you are also an advocate for several causes. Can you tell us about those?”

[Hayley] “I am a HUGE advocate for two major causes in particular, ‘Tourette Syndrome’ and ‘Anti-Bullying’. I battled both of these growing up. I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age ten, and my peers avoided me like the plague. Imagine sitting in a desk for seven hours, and nobody addresses you unless it is to bully you. In 7th and 8thgrade my desk became my prison cell, and a teacher who also bullied me, became my jail warden. Being bullied made my tics worse, and the school kicked me out of church for barking, even though they knew I had Tourette’s and could not control it. I taught myself reverse psychology, and luckily have been tic free since I was sixteen. But I will never forget those who bullied me. I have moved on, and can only feel sorry they had to bring someone else down to bring themselves up. I don’t hold grudges and am a firm believer of ‘It is never too late to say ‘I’m sorry,’ but it is also never too late to say, ‘I forgive you”. I believe in not only helping the victim, but the bully as well. Usually bullies are victims themselves. If you simply help the victim and not the bully, the bully will move on and bully someone else. Bullying is a chain reaction, and once you break that chain, ANYTHING is possible.”

 

[Chancy] “You mentioned that you yourself battled Tourette Syndrome. What advice would you give to kids growing up with TS?”

[Hayley] “NEVER. GIVE. UP. When your tics are bad, and you feel like you have no control of your body, just remember, ‘it can only get better’. That keeps things positive. Saying ‘It can’t get worse’ is actually negative. A lot of times having Tourette’s also means you are diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, OCD or one of many other disorders as well. All of this can be very overwhelming, and that is why I advise to try to always stay positive. No dream is too far out of your reach. Often times when someone with Tourette’s has a passion, or does something they love, they don’t tic while doing it. I have never ticed while on stage or on set. So find that one thing you love, and don’t be afraid to chase that dream.”

 

[Chancy] “If you could create any role for yourself to play in a blockbuster film, what would that role be like?”

[Hayley] “My dream role would be to play a character with Tourette syndrome. Often times, the media portrays Tourette’s as a ‘cursing disorder’ which is completely inaccurate. This leads to stereotyping and bullying in schools. I would love to portray a character who gets diagnosed. Maybe, she thinks she is going crazy with her tics.. and have the character finds some sort of inner peace and acceptance. I also believe having an actress that actually has Tourette Syndrome, is much more valuable than hiring someone to simply ‘play the part’. My goal is to change the industries portrayal and view on Tourette Syndrome, and that is one of the reasons why I am vey open about battling it as I grew up.”

 

[Chancy] “If you were asked to collaborate with one of our “14 People to Watch in 2014″, who would you choose? What kind of project would the two of you create together?”

[Hayley] “Well of course I would LOVE to do an anti-bullying project with Torrey Mercer. I am actually a fan of hers as well. Maybe that answer is a bit ‘predictable’ so I would like to say I would also be honored to model for the photographer Jake Simpson. His photos are stunning and truly captivating. Even though I couldn’t take a photo to save my life, I can definitely appreciate photography. He really captures the true essence of the models, which is difficult to do.”

 

[Chancy] “As an anti-bullying advocate and TS Ambassador, kids probably tend to look up to you. Who do you look up to?”

[Hayley] “I definitely look up to my mom, who is the strongest woman I know. She stuck my side and was my greatest advocate throughout my battle with Tourette Syndrome. She was also the rock that held our family together after my dad passed away at seventeen. Speaking of my late father, he will always be my hero. He lived his life with integrity and adventure. He was my best friend and I am definitely a ‘daddy’s girl’.”

 As always, at the end of our interview, I asked Hayley to give us some trivia facts about herself. She responded:

“I have been a vegetarian for three and a half years.”

“I am an amazing cook and also make stellar home made cupcakes.”

“I collect antique Nancy Drew Books and Antique Bone china Tea Cups.”

“I love having tea parties.”

“Traveling is a passion of mine, and I LOVE airplanes.”

“For me, being nice isn’t an act, it’s a way of life.”

 

It was truly a pleasure to be able to talk with Hayley Gripp. She’s the kind of artist that just makes you feel good to associate. So my question to you, readers, is this: isn’t this the kind of woman you want to promote? Do you realize the power that you have? If you want to help change Hollywood into a place that cares more about others than itself, the first step can happen now. “Like” their facebook pages, tell your friends about them, watch their movies and commercials. The entertainment industry is all about the people who follow the artist’s work, and every single bit of support counts.

I’m Chancy Johnson, inviting you to help me bring these great people~

Out of the Woodwork.

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One comment on “Brave

  1. Pingback: WWIR – World Wide Indie Radio (Butterflies Radio) » Blog Archive » WWIR New w/e 13th April 2014

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This entry was posted on April 10, 2014 by and tagged , , , , , , , .
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