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:

Children Uniting Nations Day of the Child

Sunday, November 15th is Children Uniting Nations 17th annual Day of the Child in the Los Angeles area.  There will be 400 foster children coming and they are looking for volunteers to do mentoriing! You can contact: Mary Akhlaghpour at mbatax@gmail.com (she will issue volunteer release forms), and for anyone who wants to donate for next year’s DAY of the CHILD event, you can donate via the Children Uniting Nations website: http://174.120.222.66/~cun/how-you-can-help/donate/

If I were there next weekend, I would totally be doing this with my Friend Movement Family.  Please consider making a donation no matter where you live, knowing it goes to a good cause. If you are in the area and have some time to donate, you can mentor a child in need.

Friend Movements 2nd Annual Stardust Soiree

The time has come for the 2nd Annual Stardust Soiree from Friend Movement. I am so honored to have been in attendance at the very first last year and extremely thrilled to be a host this year. All the preparation is really paying off as you will see from the official press release below. There are some amazing sponsors, fun raffles, amazing performers, and lots of friends gathering for the event.

There’s still time to grab a ticket at any price point so you get to enjoy some part of the festivities. I would love to see you there since my time in LA can get quite busy these days. This is a perfect time to catch up for a great cause! Check out the details here:

2nd Annual STARDUST SOIREE – OCTOBER 24th, 2015

Friend Movement in collaboration with AFU Productions, KSP Systems, Bodvar, and Go Channel is proud to present our 2nd Annual STARDUST SOIREE – Black-Tie VIP Dinner & Concert Fundraiser

SCHEDULE
5-7 PM VIP Cocktail Reception / Purple Carpet Arrivals + Interviews
7-7:30 PM Seating (Dinner & General Admission)
7:30 – 10 PM Dinner & MAIN EVENT Concert
10PM – Midnight DANCE PARTY concert

MAIN EVENT concert PERFORMERS (8 PM – 10 PM)
♥ The Summit
♥ Frenchie Davis (AMERICAN IDOL / RENT/ DEAD 7 / WE ARE FAMILY)
♥ Ryan Boone

DANCE PARTY concert PERFORMERS (10 PM – MIDNIGHT)
♥ Aylin Bayramoglu (GLEE PROJECT / CHEERLEADER DEATH SQUAD)
♥ Abraham Lim (GLEE PROJECT / HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS)
♥ Lily Mae Harrington (GLEE PROJECT / SOME FREAKS LOSERVILLE / PEE – WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY)

SPICE AFFAIR
50 N La Cienega Blvd #120, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
5PM – Midnight

Proceeds benefit the work of:

Born To Act Players: a unique theater company comprised of professional performers with and without disabilities. The concept came about when two young men with Down syndrome became friends. Both young men lovedacting and they realized one’s mother was an actor and a drama coach and the other’s worked as a representative for professional talent with disabilities. In 1996, in a small studio space in North Hollywood, California, a handful of young people with Down syndrome began meeting weekly to memorize lines and play theater games.

Friend Movement’s heART Therapy workshops: a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The creative process involved in expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

$20 – DANCE PARTY (10PM – Midnight)
♥ Drink Specials
♥ Dance Party Concert
* Dance Party ticket holders are welcome to network & enjoy the wonderful drink specials at the main restaurant bar at any time before the DANCE PARTY portion.

$50 – GENERAL ADMISSION (7PM – MIdnight)
♥ Drink Specials
♥ MAIN EVENT Concert
♥ Dance Party Concert
* GENERAL ADMISSION ticket holders are welcome to network & enjoy the wonderful drink specials at the main restaurant bar at any time before the MAIN EVENT portion.

$100 – DINNER & GENERAL ADMISSION (7PM – Midnight)
♥ Dinner (Mushroom Cappuccino, Punjab Connection, Saffron Rice, Fresh Seasonal Vegetables & Dessert. Note: Vegan option available – please note a request during ticket purchase. Vegan option must be noted by Oct 16)
♥ Hosted Wine at dinner
♥ MAIN EVENT Concert
♥ Dance Party Concert
♥ Swag Bag

* DINNER & GENERAL ADMISSION ticket holders are welcome to network & enjoy the wonderful drink specials at the main restaurant bar at any time before the MAIN EVENT portion.

$150 – VIP RECEPTION & DINNER (5PM – Midnight)
♥ Hosted Wine & Apps Reception + Talent Meet & Greet
♥ Dinner (Mushroom Cappuccino, Punjab Connection, Saffron Rice, Fresh Seasonal Vegetables & Dessert. Note: Vegan option available – please note a request during ticket purchase. Vegan option must be noted by Oct 16)
♥ MAIN EVENT Concert (front rows)
♥ Dance Party Concert
♥ EXCLUSIVE VIP Swag Bag

Master of Ceremonies
♥ Ronnie Kroell
♥ Laughing Eddie Lobo
♥ Jeanie You

HOST COMMITTEE
♥ Tommy Geraci
♥ Louise Masin Sattler
♥ Henie Reisinger
♥ Ashlee Marie Preston
♥ Mary Rings
♥ Jerry Silverhardt
♥ Kyle Chan
♥ Monica Danielsen
♥ Roberto Quinn
♥ Karamo Brown
♥ Nina Boski
♥ Santwon McCray
♥ Dean Hale

SPONSORS
♥ AFUproductions
♥ Kettle Glazed Doughnuts
♥ Perfectly Afflicted
♥ DIABOLO Beverages

♥ VIVA GLAM MAGAZINE
♥ Bodvár of Sweden
♥ Blue Chair Bay Rum

SILENT AUCTION
♥ THE STUDIO | 1 day photo/film rental – Monday – Friday from 8am – 6pm ($2500 value)
♥ Francesco Scavullo | Liza Minnelli Limited Edition Print ($2500 value)
♥ KSP Systems IT Consultation ($750 value)
♥ A set lunch for “Goodnight Marilyn” April 2016. Meet the cast and crew. (Priceless)
♥ Walk-On Role in “Child of the 70′s” web-series. (Priceless)
♥ Garnet & Rose Quartz Necklace by Hector Camacho ($250 value)
♥ Canvas print Tulips and Fountains by Robin Magee 20″ x 16″
♥ One-HourProject Consultation & Strategy Session with Debra Eckerling, Guided Goals.
♥ Andrew Christian Gift Basket

RAFFLE
♥ $100 Cake & Art Gift Certificate
♥ Kyle Chan Design Bracelets (5)
♥ Organic Teeth Whitenening Treatment | Studio City Ortho ($99 value)
♥ $50 Kettle Glazed Gift Card (3)
♥ $50 Amoeba Music
♥ Perfectly Afflicted T-Shirts (10)
♥ Bella Dots Collection 2.0 | 12 Cup Coffee Maker ($50 value )

You’ll also have a chance to bid on some hot and trendy shoes like these from Guilhermina ShoesNA:

Be sure to get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-stardust-soiree-tickets-19003560160

Friend Movement and Modern Oats join forces for Friendly Meals

Each month, my friends at Friend Movement feed the homeless and hungry in Los Angeles. It’s one of the many programs they are adopting to help the community and let people know there is someone out there they can count on. To do this they need sponsors, donations, and help. Each of you can help out by donating here: Friendly Meals.

You can also get involved by attending events held in the Los Angeles area. One such event, the Stardust Soiree will be held this coming Saturday, October 24th and I will be there as cohost. I would love to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones! There will be music, auction items from some amazing companies, and so much fun with the most amazing hearts around. Join us by going here: Tickets for Stardust Soiree.

I have been actively involved with Friend Movement for years now because I believe in all they do and are striving to accomplish. I’m always willing to get others involved in any way I can. I especially love when I mention the organization and people respond positively. that was the case with my friend and PR wizard, Joey Hodges. I mentioned friendly meals to him and he immediately brought the idea to Modern Oats, the gluten free, all natural oatmeal.

Yesterday for the monthly Friendly Meals, Modern Oats donated their individual packets to the cause. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to know that people would have a little extra, much needed, nutrition. Modern Oats is truly a generous and socially conscious company. I sincerely hope that other companies will get on board. It’s great PR and you get the satisfaction of knowing you really are helping someone who needs it.

Kenyth Mogan Wants you to “Unlock Your Heart”

I was introduced to Kenyth Mogan and his music through my friend Ronnie Kroell and Friend Movement. Ronnie appears in Kenyth’s “Unlock Your Heart” video as the Tin Man. It’s such a great song with a fantastic message that also fit into the work Friend Movement does to combat bullying and encourage friendship, love, and self acceptance.
The thing that really attracts me to “Unlock Your Heart”, in addition to the message, is the beat. It has hints of country mixed with dance and pop and I think that appeals to so many sides of my own taste. Just like the song, Kenyth is multi-faceted and that definitely contributes to making me a fan!
We recently had a phone chat that lasted over an hour where we talked about everything from music, to Los Angeles, to growing up, and the many personalities we come across within the business. We found out that we have a few people in common and that we both have similar views of the entertainment world. I really enjoyed speaking to him and I do hope you all enjoy our interview. Be sure to check Kenyth out on social media, share his video, and just say hello. I know he’d love that!
Q: You grew up in a small town in Montana. What were some of the advantages to starting out like that? Disadvantages?
Kenyth Mogan: One of the best advantages of growing up in a small town was that I was very very close with a lot of people. My neighbors and the friends of my parents had just as much of a hand in raising me as my family did. I had a lot of support and encouragement when I started out singing in church and school programs. This was also one of the disadvantages because if I screwed up, which did happen, everyone I knew saw it. But even when I did screw up, everyone rallied around me in comfort and support. It was wonderful.
Q: What would you say to other young artists who are living in small rural areas and are a bit scared to make the jump to big city life? Or even to those who already live in big cities but are scared to pursue their dreams? 
KM: Twenty years from now the biggest regrets you will have are not for the things you did but for the things you didn’t. Not everything you do is going to work out the way you hoped, but that’s the beauty of life, every experience we have, good or bad shapes us into we are. There’s a whole wide world of opportunity waiting, all you gotta do, is jump.
Q: Do you see yourself as a role model for other LGBT youth and artists? Who were some of your role models growing up and even now?
KM: I would love to be a role model. I grew up listening to people like Tiffany and Tommy Page, two artists I still listen to to this day. Chad Allen was really one of the first role models I can remember having who also happened to be gay. Now we’re everywhere, Steve Grand, Robbie Rogers, Russell Tovey. It’s amazing.
Q: The song “Unlock your Heart” has garnered world-wide recognition. It has also become part of Friend Movement, an organization that promotes friendship and understanding rather than bullying and judgment. Did you intend for the song to be part of that or did the message just naturally fit?  
KM: Once I started speaking with Ronnie my team and I discovered that the song just naturally fit. The whole point of the song is about unlocking your heart and opening it up to love.
Q: Tell me a little about your involvement in Friend Movement. What does it mean to you to be a Friend?

KM: I got involved after asking Ronnie Kroell to be a part of the Unlock Your Heart music video.  Friendship is something very important to me. Growing up the “gay kid” in northeastern Montana would’ve been a lot different if I didn’t have the friends I had.
Q: What mistakes do you see other LGBT artists or any up-and-coming artists make that you try to avoid?

KM: I wouldn’t say I’ve noticed other artist making mistakes, but what I’m trying to do differently is focus on the actual music. So many singers in the LGBT community, especially men, focus heavily on sex to sell their music that’s not me – mainly because at the present time, I’m not sexy enough to sell sex – I try and it kind of comes off sad and pathetic.
Q: What would you say to those out there who are being bullied and/or feel they just don’t fit in because of pressures from peers and society?

KM: Difference is a good thing. How boring would a symphony be if there was only one note? Don’t be afraid to be yourself because, every color in the rainbow is important. Those who say otherwise don’t understand your beauty.
Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
KM: I couldn’t live without music. The one and only time I was grounded by my parents they took away my music. After a few days I literally started to go through withdrawals. Also, the world would be a very dark place without the beauty that is Charlie Cox and Russell Tovey.
The one thing I think we all could do with out is cruelty… and anchovies.
Q: What’s up next for Kenyth Mogan? 

KM: I’m back in the studio working on the next EP. I’ve been writing a lot with my friend Phil Evans (School Boy Humor, The Roads Below) and some really great producers including Gabe Lopez who’s worked with everyone from New Kids on the Block and Chris Salvatore. I’m also getting the chance to work with some amazing songwriters I’ve admired since I was child. I’m really excited to show everyone the new stuff.
Q: How can we find you online and on Social Media?