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Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Actress Gianna Simone Is Helping To Change Our World

I wanted to unite some of the areas of impact we work on with the foundation. So I came up with an idea to unite abused and neglected kids with abused and neglected animals, to promote healing in both parties. On one of our field trips to a farm sanctuary, I noticed one of the girls was extremely scared to approach and touch one of the animals, with some love and care she was hugging that animal by the end of the day. It was so special to see walls drop and some healing occurs.

As a part of our series about “TV & Film Stars Making a Social Impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gianna Simone, an American actress, model, and producer. She has appeared in such feature films as Star Trek Into Darkness, Mother’s Day, I Can Only Imagine, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, and several television series. Simone is originally from Boston, Massachusetts and during her youth, lived in East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Wilbraham.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?

When I was 16 I was walking around a part of Boston called Faneuil Hall with my father and was sharing this extremely powerful desire to model. As we were walking and walking he came up with an idea and plan for me to call the New England School of photography, and find a photographer to work with to shoot my first portfolio. So I did. I found a woman by the name of Shannon Michelle, and LOVED her work; I knew she was the one I wanted to work with on this major part of my journey. I met with her, and we planned out my entire 1st portfolio. We did our shoot I think a few weeks later and I remember feeling a high that I had never felt before that I learned was what true purpose felt like.

Soon after the shoot, I had a beautiful portfolio put together, that I now had to shop around to agencies to get represented. I got a lot of no’s and bad advice that I didn’t listen to at all. It was my first big lesson in learning that I didn’t have to take on what other people thought about me or what they chose to see or not see in me. I knew who I was, what I needed to do, and what I was capable of, and that is what mattered. This has always been my driving force; knowing that God instilled desires in us and it is our job to carry them out.

So with a lot of them, no’s from agencies, I started booking a lot of work on my own. In time I was represented by the top agency and became one of their top booking models ;-)

Along the way I fell in love with acting, a similar journey to which all has led me here, writing this :-)

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or takeaway that you took out of that story?

I have learned SO much throughout my career, which has influenced who I am today in such a profound way. I am extremely grateful.

It’s honestly very hard to narrow down to just one story. So many people, events, and experiences that I’ve been shaped by.

A special moment that I will always remember, was before shooting “Mother’s Day” I was on a Skype call with Garry Marshall and his assistant, Heather. We were chatting about the movie and my role. Towards the end of the call, he said “Do you have any questions? I said, “No, do you have anything else you’d like to let me know?” He said “Just be you! So many people change themselves before coming to set and show up completely different than how we hired them. Just be YOU!” That was so profound to hear from someone who was the greatest director in the world at one point. That he just wanted me to be me, he trusted me, he had confidence in me, and he was telling me I was enough. Which was very different from the above story of how my journey started. How ironic, right?! Just goes to show, that everyone will have an opinion, which most of the time has nothing to do with us, but when we stay true to our authentic path, miracles happen. Eventually, others start to see who we are, and what we have seen and believed all along.

What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?

I would always want to encourage anyone and everyone to live their own authentic, beautiful life. There is only one of them that will ever exist in the creation and they have something very unique the world needs. Never give up, things always have a way of working themselves out for our best. Stay focused and always remember God has great plans for you. Expect to see them!

Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Yes, her name is Kathy DeMarco. She was the owner of a gym I would work out at every day for hours and hours sometimes I’d just spend the whole day there. She eventually started asking me questions, like why I would spend all day there and where my parents were, etc. So I told her the truth and shared what was going on at home. I was placed into the foster care system throughout our friendship and she took it upon herself to take me under her wing, and to try to go through the process of adopting me. When we would go to court every few months to get me out of the foster care system (which was slowly killing me), my mother would stand in front of the judge and say she didn’t want me, but Kathy would stand up and say she did. Again, the message of others’ opinions of us have nothing to do with us most of the time, and everything to do with their hearts. Some will choose to see us as God’s children who deserve love and care, some will be able to actually demonstrate that love and care, and some will create things to hate and find excuses to not love or care for us properly; all in efforts to not look at themselves because it is too difficult or painful.

Kathy showed me not only was I worthy of love, that I mattered and was fearfully and wonderfully made, but that God loves me unconditionally and will never forsake me. That has been the greatest gift anyone has given me and I am forever grateful.

How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?

Ever since my career started I began tithing. I knew it was a blessing and gift to do what I did and wanted to say thank you to God, for blessing me every time I got the chance to do what I love. I started giving to foundations that I believed in and were making efforts in areas I wanted to see a change in. As time went on my friend and mentor helped me start my foundation, “The Gianna Simone Foundation”. Which is managed by the National Christian Foundation. We support foster youth, animal sanctuaries, provide scholarships to men and women in Rwanda, and also work with rescue organizations that help end sex trafficking.

I’ve also created a show, that is streaming now on Amazon Prime and youtube that provides education on a whole food plant-based diet. With heart disease being the #1 killer of men and women and it is shown to prevent and reverse heart disease, I felt this show was much needed. Here are the links to watch on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

We are now in Season 2!

With season 1 being all about education, Season 2 is all about inspiring people. We chat with the top plant-based athletes and learn why they contribute their athletic success to their plant-powered diets.

Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

I wanted to unite some of the areas of impact we work on with the foundation. So I came up with an idea to unite abused and neglected kids with abused and neglected animals, to promote healing in both parties. On one of our field trips to a farm sanctuary, I noticed one of the girls was extremely scared to approach and touch one of the animals, with some love and care she was hugging that animal by the end of the day. It was so special to see walls drop and some healing occurs.

Is there anything that individuals, society, or the government can do to support you in this effort?

If anyone wants to support us here is the link to donate.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.

With life: Belief is the key. Jesus tells us this over and over. “Ask and you will receive” “Believe and it’ll be given to you” I have found this to be so true with applying it to my way of thinking and living.

With health: Eat a whole food plant-based diet, free of refined sugar and oil. Also an abundance of greens!

With loving others and myself: Learn from Jesus and how He did love. Implement it with oneself and with others, It works.

With finances: My dear friend always says “Profit is an expression of how many people you’ve helped” Keep helping, giving back, and producing things that will help people. You will see an enormous return.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Love.

I want all I do to point to Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. I love the quote “Nothing about me is self-made, I owe God everything” I truly feel this way and love sharing the message that everyone can be free, living in abundance with joy & peace in their hearts. We truly need that now more than ever.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?

Mark 11:24 “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be given to you.” This speaks to the power of the mind and spirit. Belief is extremely powerful and so much hope exists in those words. We are never without hope when we believe. It is true, as I’ve seen this verse transpire throughout my life. Not only do we become what we think, we become what we believe!

We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Yes, Angelina Jolie! I have admired her for years and years. She is my favorite. I met her briefly at the Critics choice awards a few years ago, and spoke to her about the foster care system and the speech I had just done at the United Nations. She asked if she could hear it but not sure if she ever did, would love to chat with her again and even do a film with her one day- what a dream come true that would be!

Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!

About The Interviewer: Growing up in Canada, Edward Sylvan was an unlikely candidate to make a mark on the high-powered film industry based in Hollywood. But as CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group Inc, (SEGI) Sylvan is among a select group of less than ten Black executives who have founded, own and control a publicly traded company. Now, deeply involved in the movie business, he is providing opportunities for people of color.

In 2020, he was appointed president of the Monaco International Film Festival, and was encouraged to take the festival in a new digital direction.

Raised in Toronto, he attended York University where he studied Economics and Political Science, then went to work in finance on Bay Street, (the city’s equivalent of Wall Street). After years of handling equities trading, film tax credits, options trading and mergers and acquisitions for the film, mining and technology industries, in 2008 he decided to reorient his career fully towards the entertainment business.

With the aim of helping Los Angeles filmmakers of color who were struggling to understand how to raise capital, Sylvan wanted to provide them with ways to finance their creative endeavors.

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