I have been blessed to know Ronnie Kroell for quite a while now. I am honored to call him friend, grateful for the adventures his friendship brings me, and look forward to many more years of both! Ronnie is a model, actor, activist, artist, singer, soon to be author, and one of the best human beings I know. He founded the Friend Movement along with Laughing Eddie Lobo and through this, they have been feeding homeless people in LA, bringing people together, and promoting the importance of self love and friendship.
On my most recent trip to Los Angeles, Ronnie and I had lunch and lots of coffee with the best conversation, as usual. We started talking about things we wanted to do and how we might be able to work together on something special. The idea of a Facebook Live show came up and I totally felt Ronnie would be perfect for that space. Shortly after, Behind the Smile Live was a reality that I feel was overdue and needed. We thought it would be really nice to chat about it and about the other things Ronnie has going on so we could share it with you all as well.
We’ve had many conversations over the years in private but I’m always proud to share the ones I can with you! So, let me introduce you to Ronnie Kroell, the man (and heart) behind the gorgeous smile:
Q: Tell me a little about the concept behind the Behind The Smile book and how that became Behind the Smile Live. I am honored to have been part of the BTS Live process but I want everyone to know how it evolved.
My goal is to dive beneath the surface, eliminate the filters, destroy the masks, and achieve a deeper level of human connection with my family, friends, and fans. I plan to challenge my readers to step outside of their own comfort zones, become more vulnerable, and live their most authentic lives. To do this, I will be sharing my personal life struggles, successes, and a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way. Each chapter will discuss an important topic, but the coolest part is, readers will be able to immediately implement what they have read by way of a real-life challenge that I pose at the end of each chapter!
While I am writing the book, I thought it would be fun to get the creative juices flowing and do something special! SO, I teamed up with my friend Tommy Geraci and together we created, BTS – LIVE on Facebook. It airs every Sunday at 3PM ET / 6PM PT. We have a new guest each week, share an inspirational quote, and pose a weekly challenge to motivate and energize our audience for the week ahead. www.facebook.com/ronniefriendkroell
Q: You have been on a journey to help others AND to learn more about yourself. Do those two goals ever get in each other’s way?
Ronnie Kroell: I have found that it is possible to help others while working on myself, but it is MOST important to find a healthy balance. If you give too much of yourself away, then you have nothing left and can burn out pretty easily. Practicing self-care and learning to love yourself is the key to learning how to extend that same kindness to others in our lives.
Q: Friend Movement started as an anti-bullying platform but has also evolved into so much more. Can you tell us a little about it and how it is different from other movements out there?
RK: Friend Movement believes that what you focuses on expands, thereby, if we are focused on “anti-bullying”, we are still giving bullying power. So, to counter that, we have decided to be “pro-friendship” and find ways to explore what it really means to be a friend to ourselves and others. We are in the business of preventing and healing the effects of bullying by producing fun events, edgy photo-campaigns, and inspiring diverse social media content that aims to unite us in friendship and find solutions to challenging problems.
Q: In episode one of BTS Live, you discussed how you can look at photos and know what was going on behind your smiles and which were forced. What truly makes you smile?
RK: Life is a beautiful, but often very complicated thing. It comes with complex challenges, confusing emotions, and scarce resources. Our collective society / consciousness creates and dictates how we should walk, talk, look, etc. But to me, living by those norms is SO boring. What makes me smile is when I see people breaking out of their cages, challenging the status quo, thinking outside the box, and being unapologetically themselves. It’s taken me a bit of time to become comfortable in my own skin (for numerous reasons that I will touch upon in the book), but I smile the brightest when I have no other intention than that of showing up and enjoying the ride.
RK: I cannot live without my friends, they are fuel and sustenance for my soul.
I wish we could all live without judgement.
Q: In episode one you also discussed the change in tone the internet can take. When social media first became big, it seemed to be nicer, more friendly. Do you think we can get that back? Go back to a global community?
RK: The world we live in today is certainly technologically more connected than it has ever been, but yet somehow it feels we are more disconnected at times. The truth is, we are starving for real human contact and deeper connections — not the surface level interactions we have come to know. Some social media outlets have become real toxic wastelands that are breeding and perpetuating fear, anger, bullying, isolation, depression, and egocentric life-styles. I don’t think that we can go back in time, but I do think that together we can #BeTheChange on an individual level and create new healthy habits.
Q: Describe yourself using three hashtags.
RK: #KingOfHeart #Artist #Friend
Q: As long as I’ve known you, I have never heard you preach for the sake of it and I know you always walk the walk. What do you hope BTS Live will be to others and what do you hope it can be for you?
RK: I hope that BTS Live will be a raw slice of life look into my world, my friends, and my dreams — thereby inspiring others to rise above fear, reach for their goals, and experience all the happiness and abundance they deserve in life. For me, it is another creative outlet by which to continue to challenge myself, know myself, and maybe even surprise myself from time to time.
Q: You have spoken of self love and since I know you practice what you preach, can you name three qualities you think are your strongest or that you are proud of?
Q: Where can everyone find you on social media and online?
Q: What’s up next for Ronnie Kroell? For Friend Movement?
RK: My three main focuses right now are painting, acting, and taking Friend Movement to the next level! You can expect to see me working consistently in mainstream film, television, putting on art gallery shows, and speaking out about the importance of friendship through various channels, including, but not limited to — The Ronnie & Eddie Show. We could not be doing this important work without the kindness, love, and support of our growing #FriendFamily and for that we are deeply grateful.
Together we are making a difference — one friend at a time.
I really want to thank Ronnie from the bottom of my heart for his friendship, for doing this interview and for giving me the opportunity to work on Behind the Smile Live with him. Please join us every Sunday at 3pm PT/6pm ET for a thoughtful, meaningful conversation that will start off your week perfectly! Here’s a previous episode so you can see for yourself:
I’ve been plugging along in Social Media, Social TV, and Entertainment for a few years now. I’ve been picky about what projects I get involved in and what I lend my name to because I want to make as much of a positive impact as I can. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had a few bad experiences or worked/associated with some people I shouldn’t have, but even that has made me wiser and I hope stronger. Without the not-so-great experiences, I may not have been led to the really positive, amazing ones I have had and am having recently.
Today, I’m musing about a very positive experience and one I have been getting asked about a bit lately. I thought it would be nice to address it in a post so more people could find out about it. Recently, I decided to lend a hand in a TV series I absolutely love and have been watching since season one premiered online. Eastsiders is a little show that could and a show that has had a huge impact on so many people, including me. As far as the industry is concerned, it is a show that went from a web series, to television (appearing on LOGO), and then to NETFLIX as well. It has won a Daytime Emmy and has been nominated for multiple awards for everything from writing to acting.
It’s no wonder it has garnered so much award attention. The multi-talented Kit Williamson is the writer, creator, and director and he also stars. Van Hansis stars alongside Kit as his longtime boyfriend. John Halbach (Kit’s husband and Eastsiders Producer), Matthew McKelligon, Constance Wu, Brea Grant, and Stephen Guarino also star but just like other favorite shows of mine, they all play an important role in the story. There are so many guest stars that come in, like my friends Jai Rodriguez and Tuc Watkins, Willam Belli, and Traci Lords. Is it any wonder I fell in love with this show?
It begins as a story about the impact of infidelity on a gay couple in Silverlake (another reason I fell in love with the show. It takes place in the places I LOVE) but it becomes so much more than that. At its core, it is about relationships of all kinds and you begin to see that there really aren’t many differences in straight, gay, bi, etc when it comes to relationships and life’s trials. We are all basically perfectly imperfect and that’s okay even if it doesn’t feel okay all the time. I truly believe the show and Kit’s writing are the voice of a community and a generation. It’s a voice I’ve needed to hear, one I think we all need to hear, and it’s my voice too. It’s a voice that is amplified by the passion of the actors and all involved in every episode. It’s one that makes you proud to spell your name LGBT for sure!
One of the wonderful things about Eastsiders is the fact that it has been largely supported by crowd funding and fan support. When I saw the season three Kickstarter campaign, I donated as soon as I could. Then I rewatched season one and two on Netflix and realized I wanted to do more. I needed to be a part of this amazing experience that I’ve been watching from afar. I noticed there was an associate producer spot open and the rest is history.
To make the experience even more interesting and meaningful, a few episodes of season three premiered at OutFest in Los Angeles this past July and I got to attend. I actually got a chance to sit down with, talk to, and celebrate with the cast. Everyone was exactly as I expected them to be and even more! I think I fell in love with each of them and the show all over again.
I am actually hoping to do something with them again in the near future and maybe even sitting down with Kit and John for an interview at some point. When Kit asked me what I’ve been up to, I recall saying to him and John, “Life just keeps getting more fun” and I truly hope that continues to be true. I’d also love to continue doing meaningful things that have a positive impact. In the meantime, I am looking forward to Eastsiders season three becoming available to the masses so I can share it with all of you and I look forward to continuing my journey with all of you as well. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have the support of the people I do via social, in person, and in my travels. I hope you will all extend that support to my new Eastsiders family as well.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to spend more time at The Grand Resort and Spa in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. This time was even more fun-filled, special, and relaxing because I got to spend four full days and three nights there. The last time I enjoyed two days and was able to experience the truly top notch spa, lay by the pool, and explore the area. This time I was able to really RELAX, make some truly amazing new friends, enjoy the pool and the property, and of course that ridiculously luxurious spa.
As I mentioned last time I stayed, the staff at the Grand Resort and Spa is so attentive from the moment you arrive. And I’m not saying that because they invited me. I continually witnessed them interacting with the same kindness and attentiveness to every guest from the moment they checked in right up until they check out. This is not a place where the hospitality has limits. I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Edward, Kevin, Chris, Jay, Tommy, and the entire team who took care of us throughout our stay.
There are so many desirable things about the Grand. The location is so close to the beach and restaurants, the property itself is a secluded paradise, and the rooms are luxurious. Even the smallest room is larger than my apartment in NYC. Of course, the spa is the icing on the already delicious cake. The staff in the spa is so knowledgable, have won many awards, and are constantly learning new techniques to keep up with what is healthy, hot, and beneficial.
One of my favorite parts of the spa is talking to them. I’ve never walked out of there without some new insight or information about my body, skin, hair, and wellbeing. JD is particularly talented and well versed in such things so I get great suggestions about what to do on a regular basis to improve my overall beauty routine (and YES, men should have a beauty routine!).
My original intention was to spend my days by the pool, enjoy the spa, and then explore the area. I only ventured out one night for dinner and one day to hit the beach. The rest of the time I literally spent playing card games, talking to people, and just chilling out among friends. I met this adorable, sweet couple named James and Brian who delighted me with their company. Of course, in true Teeco fashion, it turned out James went to school with one of my very good friends so there was a common connection that leads back to social media!
What made this stay so outstanding was the promotion we did prior and during. Matt Martin and I promoted the weekend so if you stayed, you got your room at a discounted rate AND the best part was that there were lottery drawings each day to give away two and three night stays, drink vouchers, and more. It was a great way to get to know everyone staying there and for them to get to know us. As I stated, I made fast friends with one couple in particular and it was James’ birthday. When I was drawing the winner for the three night stay on Saturday, my intentions were for it to be a special win for someone. I had no idea at the time that it was James’ birthday until I announced his name and he revealed that he was there to celebrate his day. You all know how I feel about things happening for a reason and from intention. The next prize was a $25 drink voucher and James’ husband Brian was the winner there! So, I actually felt like I was a winner too because the whole intention thing worked to make a special weekend a little more special.
The last time I stayed at the Grand Resort and Spa I got my haircut, had a facial and enjoyed a massage. The facial I chose in October was an age smart facial, which is an 80 minute rejuvenating and relaxing experience for your skin. This time, I decided to do a 20 minute Microzone Facial to target some of the damage I inevitably do to my skin by shaving and from exposure to the sun. I don’t think we actually realize how much stress plays a role in the health of our skin too. I learned that the moisturizer I am currently using is a bit too thick and therefore, not exactly the healthiest for my pores.
This time around, I also decided to try the Swedish massage since I had already received a deep tissue massage in October. I figured it was a good way to be able to sample more of the work they do here. Both massages are completely relaxing from the music, to the temperature of the room, and the smell of the oils used. An hour goes by so fast that you are left wanting more time to just “be”. I have to say that before my trips to the Grand, I didn’t really understand the need or desire for massages on a regular basis. Now, I totally get it! They are so necessary to promote healthy circulation, to calm you, and to remove much of the stresses or our daily lives.
If you are a gay man or a gay couple, I highly recommend a trip to the Grand Resort and Spa. Most airfare to Ft Lauderdale is affordable on any budget, depending on the time of year and the rooms are actually less than a room in a hotel that doesn’t offer spa services or a resort atmosphere.
Again, there is so much to do because you are so close to the beach and the strip. I can tell you first hand that Rocco’s Tacos, The Foxy Brown, and the Drunken Taco are all fantastic places to enjoy a good drink and fabulous food. Plus, with Uber Eats, you are pretty much open to everything in the area. My new friends Brian and James had a red velvet birthday cake delivered for James’ special day. What did we do without apps?
I hope that you will consider the Grand for your next vacation experience and continue following me for my next trip there, you never know what specials we will make available and you never know what you could win during a weekend I am around! If you have already enjoyed a stay there, please feel free to comment here and if you are considering going, definitely reach out to me to let me know. You can get me on Twitter and Instagram at @Teeco71 and on Facebook too! Visit The Grand Resort and Spa for even more information on their services, prices, and specials.
Do you love psychological thrillers as much as I do? If so, I think Onyx Movie will be the film for you! I am especially interested in this project because my friend Patrick White is acting in it AND directing. It also interests me since it is an indie project that can become a reality through crowd funding and fan support. Be sure to follow Onyx on Twitter and Facebook to find out all the latest info and be sure to support the campaign so we can get this film from concept to reality. Also check out the following interview I did with Patrick and Nati Rabinowitz and the trailer for the film below that. I think you’ll find it quite the teaser!
NATI: The Onyx story on its most basic level is about a man experiencing some very real realities while in a coma. It’s a film that can certainly be interpreted various ways, none are wrong.
PAT: Onyx really is about the possibility of losing everything. I mean when we are at our happiest is when we are most vulnerable. This is one mans battle with loss.
Q: This was your directorial debut, correct? What was that experience like?
N:Hard to say, as we haven’t shot the film yet, but so far the writing process, development and shooting of the teaser has been exciting. Overwhelming at times, but that’s been the advantage of working with a writing and producing partner. Patrick and I both keep each other motivated and on track with the project.
P: We haven’t shot the film yet so it will be a fun experience. Collectively we all have a lot of experience working in front of the lens, but this process from idea to completion is a huge learning experience about the business of making movies and is completely different than only preparing the script or our scenes.
N:Just do it. Start writing. Today.
P: if you really want to make a movie the first thing you should do is read other scripts. Decide if you want to write it and if not make sure you have some creative friends.
Q: What would you tell someone who wants to be an actor but isn’t sure about the right path to take or the right way to get started?
N:Sign up for classes. The rest will fall into place, the business aspect of things. Once you sign up I highly recommend my first acting coach Matt Newton’s book “10 Steps to Breaking into Acting.”
P: Take a class and see if you like it. Audition for student films and try to just get in front of the camera as often as you can.
Q: How can people help to make sure Onyx Movie is seen by the masses?
N: We need funding to make the film. The more funding we have the more amazing the film can be, and the more likely it’ll be to get into festivals, perhaps be made into a TV Pilot or feature film. That’s way down the line but right now we need your dollars.
P: the campaign is super important. Raising the money let’s us make the movie. We know not everyone can donate and that’s okay, but sharing the campaign with anyone and everyone is a HUGE deal. We want anyone who wants to see this movie, to have an opportunity to participate.
Q: Where can we find you and the film online and on social media?
N&P: We’re on Facebook at @OnyxShortFilm
Instagram as @OnyxShort
N: I’m @natirabinowitz on both Instagram and Twitter.
P: I’m @PatrickWhite_ on just about everything.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
N: I can’t live without a good kitchen, I absolutely love cooking and do so often. Without? ISIS. Seriously, we can do without them.
P: Food. Literally I love good food. Cheese specifically. I wish money wasn’t so important, everyone would be a lot happier and less stressed.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received? Who gave it to you?
N: Advice is like food. There’s healthy, phenomenal tasting food. There’s terrible, bland, unhealthy food and there’s food that’s just mehhh. But there’s no best food. I’ve been pushed to not play it safe, to get out of my comfort zone. It makes sense - as being adventuring with food is important too. Don’t eat grilled cheese every day. As for giving advice, and following it, I certainly think I try and pass on and follow the lessons passed on to me.
P: My mom always told me not to be a dick, you’d be surprised how far you can get in life by just being genuinely nice and caring about other people. As for advice I would give? Never eat expired cheese. Seriously. I’ve done this once or twice so I guess that tells you how good I am at listening to my own advice.
Q: What’s up next for Patrick White or what else do you have in the works?
P: What’s up next for me? Well that’s up in the air. I have a lot of fun ideas I’d like to develop but I’m taking it one day at a time and hoping this film is as fun for everyone as it was for us to make it.
Teeco71: Here it the trailer for your enjoyment, I hope you find it as intriguing as I do!