Favorite Rebel: Jesus
My Experience with Bullying: I was a chunky kid, with bi-focals, and a funny name. Oh, how I wished to be skinny and named Jeremy, Michael, or Jason; something normal. Sporting my ten dollar shoes, as I walked down the school hall, to the sound of, “Buy a can of Alpo, get a pair of Cal-Pro!”; I dreamed of being able to wear Nikes one day.
I would get picked on a lot, if not for the a-aforementioned, sometimes just for being white. Most of my neighbors were black and since I was different I seemed to be the easiest target. I would always have to leave the boys and girls club before the sun went down, otherwise, I would have to sprint home or risk getting jumped. I would go there to play basketball because it was fun, and that’s the sport of choice if you grow up anywhere in Indiana, especially New Albany. I’d usually get picked last though because I wasn’t very good.
Since I couldn’t make the basketball team my freshman year of high school I went out for wrestling. My record was 5 wins and 16 losses. Two of my wins came by forfeit. For the first time in my life a rebellious spirit started to rise in me; I didn’t quit. My sophomore year I started to watch what our team captain, senior Eric Burres did, and how he trained. Eric was the number one ranked wrestler in the state at 152 pounds. Eric didn’t wear Nikes either and there was something about him that was very relatable. I would cling to his every word, and attempt to train just like him, like a maniac. Eric was the definition of a stud. He was humble, down to earth, and kind; a true rebel. Lucky for me, I was smart enough to know that in order to be successful I could model myself after other successful people. My senior year I was nominated captain of the wrestling team and by the time my senior season was over I had amassed 31 victories en route to setting the most pins in a single season for my school. I won many titles that year and landed a college wrestling scholarship. Oh, and those kids that used to bully me usually carried my books down the hall for me that year.
Toward the end of college, I got back into acting, something I had tried my hand at in elementary school. I found myself sitting in a local talent agency. Because I had no money the flamboyant agent shouldn’t have taken the rejection so personally when I said, “No thank you”, to the $1200 initiation fee in order to become a model in Louisville, Kentucky. Instead he proceeded to tell me all the reasons I would never make it in the business. Most notably my thin lips, “Honey if you pick up any magazine you’ll see that the look is thick, full lips and you just don’t have that. You won’t have any success unless you get your lips done.” I never got my lips done. Instead I moved to NYC after college and ended up on 3 billboards in times square, multiple magazine ads, countless national tv commercials, and film/tv/stage are all on my resume. I proved that bully wrong and I’m not even close to being finished.
My Best Advice: I’ve made it a habit in my life to be an overcomer. It doesn’t matter who people say you are. It matters who you say you are. Your own opinion of you is the only opinion that matters. God says he has plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future. Cling to what is good; stand up for what is pure, noble, and lovely. Rise up. Rebel against bullying. Live your dream!