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.

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



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

RK: Patience


Saying NO

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:

Beverley Elliott From TV to Stage Proves You can do it ALL

I recently worked at a convention for the television show Once Upon A Time appropriately called Regal Con. I was able to work with Lee Arenberg and Emillie de Ravin and I was afforded the absolute pleasure of interviewing Beverley Elliott (Granny) as well as Michael Coleman (Happy). I have to say that Beverley was everything you think Granny would be and MORE. She is a strong woman who truly listens to her fans and understands what they are going through. She is very grateful for all she has and she loves Once Upon A Time as much as we do!

Beverley also has a wonderful sense of humor, a truly lovely family, and is talented in so many ways. She writes her own shows and music, she performs, and she finds time to make a few movies in her down time.

Here is our interview (Michael’s will be coming shortly). I would like to take the time to thank Beverley for being so gracious that entire weekend and for allowing me a chance to get to know her a little better! Also, thanks to Regal Con, Laurie Mahoney, and FangirlOnTheRun for organizing the interviews!

Q: I wanted to ask you about your experience with your fans at a conventions such as this one (Regal Con). What draws YOU to a convention?

Beverley Elliott: I might have said this in another way already today but it’s the truth so I’m going to tell you. This is my fourth convention, I think. What I’ve learned, and I had no idea, I thought it was just entertainment that we were doing. Once Upon A Time, shear entertainment. But what I’ve learned and what I love is that fans come and share their stories with me. Why they watch the show, why it’s important, why it has affected their life or even saved their life. How it has been a huge part of their healing or grieving process. Young girls, specifically, that have had troubles at school or troubles in their family who have been hurting themselves or bulimic or something that have found strength in one of the characters in the show or more because the women are written so strong in Once Upon A Time. What the writers did for this show is that they changed the idea of what a princess was. As far as finding my prince charming and finding my Prince Charming and live happily every after, which doesn’t happen.. EVER… And they’re strong warrior women with real life problems and they mess up and then they figure it out or they have help figuring it out. They are forgiven and accepted again and they move on, just like life. We mess up in life and we are all just trying to do our best. I think the fact that these stories are being told in that way, it’s really empowering people. We all can have a happy ending, every single person can have that happy ending. We have to do the work on our parts and mess up and learn. Make it happen and keep believing.

That’s what I find has been so surprising about conventions like this is having people just pour their hearts out to me and I LOVE it. And I’m there to hear it because it makes me realize that it’s not just entertainment.

Q: I’ve noticed that you’ve done movies on Lifetime and networks like that. Do you think the growth of cable networks such as these for women are bringing roles that are good for women? Perhaps creating new opportunities for actors to portray women in a strong light?

B.E.: Totally, absolutely. Yes, yes, yes. I work in theater too and it’s a known fact that the majority of people who buy theater tickets are women over 35 because they want to see stories for women. I think TV networks are starting to realize that so many women are watching TV and they want to see their stories. A lot of the women are older, the baby boomers are getting older so we can’t watch the young stories, they just don’t speak to us. We have more life experience. So the fact that these networks and cable TV are starting to address that and starting to put it out there, it’s great, it’s really great because you just want to see yourself reflected.

Even though Once Upon A Time has two primary writers that are men, the women have been represented in such a strong way.

Q: You work on TV, theater, film and sing. Do you have a favorite?

B.E.: They all feed each other so much, it’s great. It’s actually really great. I just did a one woman show that I wrote and I sing 6 songs and tell 8 stories. It was a pick of the Fringe Festival in Vancouver and I’m doing it at 2 other theaters and going to another Fringe Festival. I’m on stage for 80 minutes so that’s pretty fabulous. To tell my own stories that I wrote and sing songs that I wrote, hold the stage for that long and get standing ovations, that’s intent feedback.

Working on Once Upon A Time or a television show, this one in particular because there’s just so much reward. It’s such a good high profile show to be a part of and the cast is just stellar. And then you get to come to conventions like this one.

I just did a Lifetime film where I played someone something wacky. Cigarette smoking, drinking, barking at everyone. I can’t say I can pick one over the other.

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

B.E.: Oh, my God… wish we could all live without. You know what came to my mind, it’s not the real answer but it’s how the brain goes.. Peanut Butter! That’s what I got! .. I hate that it’s food.I would say kindness or love… HUMOR… I couldn’t live without humor, I’d die if it’s all too serious.

What do I wish we could all live without, guns. We could all live without plastic too.

Q: With all the kids that watch the show, do you have a message for kids out there who might be feeling a little lost in their lives, who are being bullied or having a hard time at home?

B.E.: You are loved, you are not alone. If you’re not in the company of those who believe in you, just keep reaching out because eventually you’ll find someone who see who you are, who hears your story. In turn, you’ll pay that forward. I think that’s how it works.

Q: What’s up next for you, besides the new season of Once Upon A Time?

B.E.: Once Upon A Time, we go back July 7th. I am taking a week in the summer and going to Edmonton (that’s in Canada) to do my one woman show again. I’m going to Ontario to visit my family before we go back. I just did a Lifetime and a Hallmark movie. Probably going to a barn with my daughter, she rides horses so I’m going to watch her ride. I’m going to write another show, another one woman show. I’m going to sing at the Leo Awards which is like the Emmys.

Kylie Beniamino is Music and Someone you should know

On Halloween, I was in Atlanta (as I normally am each year) at the EyeCon Vampire Diaries/The Originals Convention and was invited by my friend to see Kylie Beniamino perform at a local venue. We all have those friends who we know only recommend someone when they are GOOD, so I knew I was in for a great night. What I didn’t know was that I would be truly blown away by the stage presence of this young woman and her voice.

Kylie really does command the stage and has such charm to her voice. For those of you who do venture out to bars on Halloween, you know the crowd is not exactly focused on much after midnight. However, when Kylie took the stage, all eyes (and ears) were on her and that is a rare thing in a bar atmosphere. Since hearing her, I find myself imagining how she would perform new songs I hear by my favorite artists on the radio too! (true story!!)

Besides being able to command the crowds attention, Kylie is also a very kind soul who I was delighted to talk to that night (morning) and the next day as well when she surprised us with a visit at EyeCon. Selfishly, I knew I had to ask her to do an interview and luckily, she agreed. I am so thrilled to be able to introduce all of you to Kylie Beniamino and her music! But unselfishly, I knew I could bring her to you all, so it pans out in the end! I hope you check her out on social media and her website. If you are in the Atlanta area, be sure to catch a show when you can. I am confident you will find her as charming and talented as I do.

Q: Has music always been a big part of your life?

Kylie Beniamino: YES! Growing up I always wanted to sing and perform anytime I could. Before I could even make words as a little girl I was always dancing around in my kitchen humming and mumbling songs haha. My dad said Barney was all I ever wanted to watch and sing a long to. So as I got older my dad bought me a karaoke machine and I had one of those little round trampolines that I would stand on and use as my stage. I think I’ve always known in my heart that there is nothing else I would rather do than sing, so I’ve stuck with it!

Q: I saw you perform in Atlanta and you did an amazing job covering some great songs! As an artist, how do you keep your individuality even when you are covering a popular song?

KB: Thank you! You know it can be super tricky. I usually just listen to songs and ask myself how I would sing them and run with it! I usually just keep songs that people usually respond well to, and I take home requests and try to find a way to fit them into my set.

Q: When musicians are starting out, they normally have to play bars and clubs. I definitely noticed that you have a real stage presence. How do you maintain the crowds’ attention even as the night goes on and they may have had a few (or many) drinks?

KB: Thank you! It is so much fun playing bars and clubs! It has actually really helped me develop a stage presence over the years. But back to your question, I think keeping their attentions has to do with knowing your audience, and what they are feeling in that moment. Sometimes we don’t follow our set list and call out a song we think the crowd will go crazy for. Usually throwbacks that people don’t expect you to sing end up getting the crowds energy really high. I take a lot of responsibility when I’m on stage and know that all eyes are on me, and the more fun I’m having the more the crowd will feed into that.

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists to cover?

KB: Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Jessie J, and Bruno Mars for sure!

Q: Who would you absolutely LOVE to perform with someday?

KB: Easy…Jessie J! Her voice is insane! She seems like a cool chick too. I definitely hope to be on a friend basis with her someday haha.

Q: You have a terrific band. How did you all meet?

KB: The band you actually saw me perform with was the house band for that venue! They are great guys, and we play that venue together all the time. But I actually have my own band that plays my other shows with me. We all met through producers, and friends of friends. They’re amazing! I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many great musicians. You need to hear them!

Q: After meeting you and talking with you, I know you are very grounded. That’s very rare with young peope in the music and entertainment industry. What do you think about young stars who take what they have for granted?

KB: You know everyone starts somewhere Tommy, and you never really know everyone’s story or where they came from, so I don’t know if I am in place to judge. All I can say is no matter if you’ve made it, it is still a journey so you should always try and remain humble and grounded throughout your entire journey and career. Your career can always end just as fast as it started.

 Q: Where can we find you & your music online?

KB: YES! FOLLOW ME PLEASE! You can follow me:

Q: Tell us what’s up for you next? Performances? Appearances?

KB: Well I just got done attending the Driven Music Conference in Atlanta. (Was amazing by the way). But my upcoming shows are December 12th At Fado’s Irish Pub in Buckhead, December 19th at Park Bench, December 20th at Castleberry Ale House, and then December 30th I am doing the pre game show for the Atlanta Hawks! Times and more Info are on my website!

Amy Winehouse exhibition shows girl behind the star

Amy Winehouse exhibition shows girl behind the star (via AFP)

It is Amy Winehouse, but not as we know her. The mass of dark hair, steady gaze and full lips are instantly recognisable, but there is no hint of the scrawny, tattooed addict she would later become. Intimate family photographs, displayed for the first…

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Kevin Gerdes is Calling 4 U

Music is something that can affect your mood, complement it, and even change it.  Music can be different things for different people and it can be a different tool for the artists as well.  Some people get into music because they want to express something that has always been inside of them that just needs to get out.  It is as necessary and natural for them as breathing.  In the case of Kevin Gerdes, this is someone who is in the business because he needs to be.  If you listen to him sing, you can hear the passion for music and entertaining. On his website, I found this:  ”I perform + You enjoy = A common ground” and I think it is a perfect saying for Kevin.  His new single, “Calling 4 U” is a true testament of his love for what he does.  Besides being a soulful singer, Kevin is also an amazing actor.  I am sure we will be seeing and hearing lots from him for years to come.  Right now, he is getting ready to drop some mighty fine music on us.

I was so excited to be able to interview Kevin again about his new single and look forward to a full album from him soon.  I hope this will be one of many new pieces on about him, I always enjoy our exchanges even when they are just a quick email, phone call, or text.  I am especially proud when I can share some of it with you all as well.

Q: What’s the name of the song?  What’s it about?

A: ”Calling 4 U”. Diving deeper into the lyrics of the song, its about someone who remembers a lover in his past. He’s almost pleading for this person to remember the past they once had together. In one part of the song he says “… we can believe in the love…”, that was very personal to me. I am a believer in love and all that it encompasses. That line practically describes what “Calling 4 U” is all about. Believing that love you have for someone never truly diminishes. Its always there. Sometimes you realize that you needed a period of rest. And when you’re ready, you find out, that love never died and it can come back stronger then ever before.

Q: Do you have a release date?

A: ”Calling 4 U” is expected be released this Spring 2013.

Q: Did you write “Calling 4 U”?

A: Actually YES! Initially the song was developed from a series of poems that I have written over the years. All of the poems were derived from past relationships that I have been in. I find it interesting how people tend to never leave your heart after investing so much time and energy into them and what they offer.

From there, three writers Mark Grilliot, Randy Wade Kelley, and myself, sat in a studio and wrote amazing lyrics against a dance beat (produced but Mark Grilliot).
Like I said, the song was written based off of a few different poems that I had stored away in my computer. I was VERY hesitant to show them these secrets that I held inside. However, I can remember hearing myself saying, “If I allow myself to get vulnerable, in this process, I will have an amazing product in the end” and that is just what happened.
As hard as it was, I went into my computer and emailed the two of them what I had to offer. And the rest is history!
Q: Any plans for a full album?
A: Oh yes! This song as my previous singles will all be included. Be on the look out for this. As I’ve stated in past interviews with you, if you want to be closely updated on my single and albums, visit my website at, follow me on twitter @kevingerdes and my Facebook page,