Ronnie Kroell: There’s a ton of heart behind that smile

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. 

Ronnie Kroell: The concept for my Behind The Smile book is simple really, it’s about authenticity.

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.

Q: What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without? 

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?

RK: Loyalty

Empathy

Integrity

Q: Since we are also discussing themes of self reflection, can you name three qualities you think you can improve on? 

RK: Patience

Delegating

Saying NO

Q: Where can everyone find you on social media and online?

www.ronniekroell.com

www.friendmovement.com

www.facebook.com/ronniefriendkroell

www.twitter.com/ronniekroell

www.instagram.com/ronniekroell

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:

Haaaave you met Josh?

I first met Joshua Reid-Davis on Facebook through mutual friends. From our first conversation, we immediately hit it off because we share many interests and understand each other’s lives in a way others many not “get”. Joshua introduced me to the convention life with Eyecon, their Vampire Diaries Conventions, and to all of these amazing friends I hold dear to this day. I always enjoy talking to Josh, spending time with him, and am thrilled to be able to interview him so you all can keep up with what he’s been up to.

The thing I love most about Josh is his ability to listen to others even when he is going through things himself. I think most people who meet him consider him a friend right from the first moment. For many of the Eyecon attendees at various conventions, he is the main attraction all weekend. Yes, they are there to meet their favorite celebrities, take pictures, and get autographs, but they really do spend the greater part of the weekend being entertained by their favorite MC, Joshua Reid-Davis.

It is always a treat for me to be able to turn the tables on Josh and sort of be an MC FOR him as I bring you our conversations:

Q: So many people know you from your social media and of course, the work you do with EyeCon as MC. For those few who aren’t familiar, could you tell us a little about Joshua Reid-Davis?

Joshua Reid-Davis: Joshua Reid-Davis??? I know that guy!  He’s pretty awesome!  I’m joking, I’m Joking…Yes we do have a lot of new people who are coming to our 3rd Return To Tree Hill Convention.  We have people returning for their second and third time, and we also have people coming for the very first time. It’s going to be exciting.  For those of you who are attending for the first time and if you’re coming by yourself I want to tell you not to be scared… I know that it can be a little intimidating to go to an event like this….. by yourself…. Thats part of my job, I ask folks who are here for the first time and we help people make friends and in all honesty every show someone comes alone and leaves on Sunday with social media friends, some have friends that live close to them and they have that in common, it’s overall a great way to meet new people.

Q: Again, so many people know you but is there something you want people to know about you that they may not already know or something people may be surprised to learn about you?

JRD: Hmm. That’s kind of a tough one because a lot of people know far too much about me yet I may be able to think of something.  Okay here we go; I hate to eat tomatoes but I love ketchup… I hate pickles but I love to eat cucumbers with salt. I also like to eat salt on my watermelon and my cantaloupe.  I’ve heard it’s a southern delicacy.  I also like to eat sugar on my strawberries, peaches, and salt on my watermelon. That’s pretty random eh?

 Q: Can you tell us a bit about your project, “Behind the Smile”?

JRD: Yes, I would love to talk about Behind The Smile.  It started out as a book and I was almost done with it and ready to have it published…. But within a few days my best friend passed away and I knew that I would have to write about it.

Little things eventually turned into big things and they were things I wanted to include into a book.  But I could never find an ending. So I decided to make a documentary out of it. But just like that book …. Life keeps happening and I couldn’t find the right place to end it…. So I have taken it to youtube and hoping that it will make a difference for someone.  I call each video a chapter.  I lost a lot of archived footage that I had filmed interviews with people and I am trying to make it look good.  Some of my friends who are THE YOUTUBERS laugh when I get excited about !25 views…. They have over half a million views…. But that’s not what i’m doing it for.  Would I like to have that many views? HECK YES Because hopefully someone took something away from what I had to say…. That’s my whole goal for Behind The Smile, I’m letting my walls down and letting everyone in and I’m not going to hold any secretes and I’m sharing getting over big issues that happened in my life.  I only have six done at the moment but we are going to have a lot more done this year!

Q: For those who aren’t familiar with convention life and having a convention family, explain why these conventions, especially EyeCon, are so important to you.

JRD: I said this already but I will defiantly say it again because I usually say it over and over at conventions.  I went to my very first convention by myself,  I spent all the big bucks, I had a seat on the front row,

I talked to the people beside me, i chatted with the people around me while waiting in line for photo ops, I chatted with the people at the banquet dinner….. If their was any event going on  I was mingling around talking to people.

I walked away with some new friends from that trip and it got me into working in Los Angeles, CA for 2 1/2 years working for a convention company.   But I assure you, I know we have a lot of new people coming and I want to explain it the way I explain it on stage: It’s a 3 F system… When you arrive and get your tickets and paperwork you’re a FAN, When you mingle around and have fun at all the events you realize you’ve made friends, and after all the Q&A Panels, all the Photo Ops. and Autographs, After the parties and games you look around and realize you’re now part of the Eyecon Family and that is my favorite part of hosting conventions is seeing the people who make friends and come back together and stay connected on social media because they had such a fun amazing weekend.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

JRD: I absolutely can’t live without my Apple TV… (Dont judge me folk) But where else am I going to Netflix and Hulu on?  I wish that we could all learn to live without fish EEEWWW I can’t stand the smell, texture, or anything about them…. Just ew haha

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Who was it from?

JRD: I had a really hard time accepting that fact that I was turning 30.  To people older you’re probably ready to punch me and the people younger are probably thinking, “Dude he’s like 30?” Because I hate when people say, “You don’t look that old…”  For me when I was in my 20’s my friends that were all in their early to mid thirties all looked much older for some reason.. I honestly don’t understand it.  I heard a song on the radio and it said, “I still remember when 30 was old…” And at that moment it hit me OH MY GOSH IT’s JUST A NUMBER!  I was talking with Gwendolyn Foster and she said, “Honey you’re turning 30 not my age, now if you were turning my age…. then you’d really freak out… But guess what kiddo we are turning this age and we are going to go out and party and have a good time and you need to remember that 30 is nothing…. You can totally do this…”  Her words were most defiantly taken to heart I must say.  Because it’s not about the number its about the person that you are and the person you want to be with . I have some friends who are 24 and more mature than some 35 year olds that I know.  I took Gwen’s advice and applied it to my daily walk.  I don’t mind being 30.  But I do get excited when someone ID’s me,  Dont focus on your age it will drive you crazy focus on the fun time you’re going have, celebrate and enjoy life.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever given? Are you good at taking your own advice?

JRD: I had a friend who was getting ready to graduate high school and he complained a lot.  I don’t want to sound mean at all but his family had a lot of money and he really had nothing to stress about, and I’m not saying my problems are any worse or better than anyone else but I had to sit him down and tell him, “When I was your age I was going through not only Navy Bootcamp but I had to go to Fleet Marine Force training camp and get my butt kicked all over the dirt in Camp Jejune (I was a Chaplains Assistant for my first few years of the Navy, I finished up in Communications) I went on to tell him, “You get to see your family every day, and I didn’t see mine for many months at a time, we would get to randomly get phone calls and an email if we were lucky.  If you think you have it hard now because your dad wants you home at 11:30 then try being on a ship where you have to get up at 4-5 am and start your day and always having someone yelling at you telling you what to do… your life could be far worse than it is now…”

I am pretty good at taking my own advice for the most part.

Q: In March, we will both be working on another truly amazing One Tree Hill EyeCon Convention in Wilmington, NC. What else is coming up next for you?

JRD: What’s next eh? I am  going to be doing our March and our Summer Show with One Tree Hill it’s going to be so very exciting.  I look forward to working with Kenny and Autumn behind the scenes to help plan our upcoming 4th convention.

I also have some traveling coming up and going to hurry and try to get some more stories put out on the Behind The Smile Channel.  If you haven’t been I have six videos up so far, I interviewed our dear friend Kat Graham (Bonnie on The Vampire Diaries) and We also have a video from our very first vampire diaries convention where you get to see me call Paul Wesley “Damon”  on stage…. So you never know what you’re going to get into if you watch one.  My goal and my ambition for this series is to help touch peoples lives. That’s all I could ever hope and pray for.

My dreams came true and the creative mind of Kenny Smith made an amazing Star Trek film and I was one of the characters in it. I can’t really tell you a lot of details because I don’t want to give out any spoilers…. But it’s going to be amazing. It was great working with Autumn, Kenny, and the whole cast and crew were amazing. It’ll be out later this year. Star Trek First Frontier.

Q: There are so many people stuggling and hurting. Even with social media bringing so many together, there are still those who feel lonely. What advice do you give to those people who just can’t find the right way to connect with others or are too shy to do so?

JRD: Yes it is so crazy that we have so many people that struggle and hurt.  In the very first video that I posted on Behind The Smile I talked about my depression and other things I’ve gone through.  It really saddens me because I am a huge advocate for no bullying, in all honesty if you see someone being bullied and you do NOTHING to help them, then that just makes you a bully for not stepping up for them.  It hurts to see people being bullied, in fact after this last show I had three fans make fun of me on twitter…. I hate to even mention this because I don’t want them to think that they are getting recognition for this… But I told the crowed that if they were dealing with problems in their lives to check those problems at the door and to come in and have a really good time at the convention with us and when they leave on Sunday hopefully those problems don’t seem that bad anymore because you have all these happy memories to walk away with and use as a “Happy Place” when the hard times come.

Life throws us many hard issues and things at us all the time, and some  of our attendees are going through hard times, and we realize that this is your vacation, your girls weekend out, boys weekend out, “Ran away and left the husband at home but don’t worry we will be home on Monday”, We know that this is your special time, YOUR WEEKEND! So don’t let the problems you have hold you back from having the time of your life…. Because when you go out and spend a weekend with us, the next time that problem comes up, you have all those new memories to think about and hopefully that fun will outweigh the issues that are going on.

Q: Where can people find you online to connect?

JRD: I love social media Hit me up on

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/joshua.reiddavis.3

Twitter: @JustJoshHeyy

Instagram: JustJoshHeyy

Youtube: Youtube.com/BehindTheSmileJRD

Side note: I’m always excited and proud to work alongside my family at Eyecon!  If you would like to spend some time with us and are a fan of the TV Show One Tree Hill, there will be a convention this March in Wilmington, NC and another in August, most likely in Atlanta, GA. You can get tickets and info by visiting: http://www.eyeconfla.com

Here’s a bit of Josh’s YouTube series “Behind the Smile”