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:

Aiden Howarth: Poet, Dedicated Father, FRIEND, and Game Changer

This interview with my good friend Aiden Howarth first appeared on Technorati in 2012 (wow! 2012! I’ve know him a LONG time… and we’re still SO young but Mia is no longer 7 years old) but since there were changes made to that site, it is no longer available. I thought I would share it here, especially since I know Aiden is working on his second project. His first was a collection of his poetry and I fell in love with it immediately. While you wait for his second, catch up with him and his poetry here:
First, let me thank you for doing this. I really do love your work.  It is totally true that “Without You” is on my night table and I enjoy reading the poems whenever I am unwinding from my day. My sister has also taken to a few I posted or re-posted from you on Facebook. I think a few of them remind her of her daughter. 
I always wonder about the thought process when it comes to poetry and I thought others might enjoy this exchange :)
Q: You dedicated your book of poetry, Without You, to your beautiful daughter Mia Liljana Jeane Howarth.  Obviously she is a great inspiration to you.  Is she old enough to understand what all that this means?  Does she share in your artistic skills? 
Aiden Howarth: Mia is an incredibly bright child. She always has been. She’s now 7 years old and doing great in school, escpecially in her reading and writing, which is great. She is forever writing stories of princesses and castles and she enjoys being praised for it which of corse, I do every single day. She is my incredible little angle and not a day goes by where I don’t look at her and wonder what I did so right to be given a chance at bringing up such a wonderful little girl. As regards her understanding, I don’t believe she has fully grasped the fact that a book has been dedicated to her. Yes, she has seen her pictures and her name in print and yes, she thinks it’s great but hopefully when she is old enough to understand the full meaning of all the work that’s written inside, she will thinks it’s even more amazing. Of Corse, I didn’t write a book just to make my daughter happy, I did it for myself and for sharing what I write with the world. The opportunity to share with her my work in such a way arose and I jumped at the chance.
Q: Many of the poems are about loss, separation, and love.  Do you think these go hand in hand? Is it inevitable? 
AH: Like the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, I do believe that loss, separation and love are inevitable. I believe that to truly understand what love is, first you must feel the pain of having someone walk away from a relationship. The hurt of walking away yourself when you realise that the person you once loved is not who you first thought to be. Love, to me, is an awe inspiring feeling. In that, in some way large or small, we all at some point will feel it. Only some of us want to keep it going forever.
Losing someone, especially a child, is a moment in life where you know what love feels like. What love is. What love was created for. Losing a child like I did so many years ago I believe put me on the path I am on now. The path which forces me to praise everything Mia does, Is thankful for her every waking breath, scared that I may not be doing a good job. All feelings that so far, have given me some of the best moments in my life with her.
Q:  ”A New Page of Old Emptiness” to me, seems to be about not realizing what you have right in front of you.  What was your motivation for this piece? What thoughts were you harnessing and what reaction were you hoping to bring out in the reader? 
AH: You’re exactly right. It’s about how it feels to have someone you love so deeply, finally give upon the relationship you thought would last forever, and it is actually all your own fault. The title itself ‘A New Page Of Old Emptiness’ means just that… another day gone by with still the same old pain. The same old guilt. The same blame. It’s also a reference back to an earlier poem I wrote where once again, pages of life seem to be going unwritten, un read, torn out and discarded. As you’ve propably gathered, most, if not all of my poetry is written about love and loss. Hence the title of the book ’Without You’. Somewhat referring to being without that special person in your life but on the most part, it’s speaking to one’s self. Without You meaning myself. The feelings I tried to portray within this piece where the feelings of despair.
Q: “The Fairytale You Had Wished For” feels like it is warning us of forcing ourselves to be in idealistic relationships.  Sometimes we try so hard to create what we need with someone because we really believe they are “the one” when in reality it may not be meant to be.  What period of your life was that about or where you relaying someone else’s story? 
AH: This stemmed, again, from a relationship. In fact, all relationships. Women and I guess men too believe and want THEIR relationship to be the best one anyone could ever have. The have dreams, goals, aspirations. Everything is so idealistic. Just like a fairytale. When in reality, a fairytale could not be further from the truth of what it is we live. Fairytales are given to us as children as fantasy. They portray a happy ending every single time. It’s when you learn that a happy ending comes few and far between in love, that you realise a small part of yourself has died. This poem was written as almost a letter to the other person. Stressing my angst at our failings and pointing out that none of us did anything wrong, it’s that we believed too much that we were the fairytale we saw as children. Finding out that we could not live the way we hoped (be it problem free and with a happy ending) I end that poem with the stark reality of what believing in the fairytale of life will do to us all…
Taken by the hand and misled into the arms of hurt.
The fairytale that you had wished for?
Q:  ”Be Still My Heart” could be about love that is not returned or one person feeling something the other doesn’t quite feel.  Is it about a specific time in your life? Do you think most of us have to go through relationships or feelings like this before we find the “right” one?  
AH: This poem is about falling in love. The passion. The want to feel that ache of needing someone so badly that it hurts. But, as is my usual style, there’s a problem. It’s a poem about falling in love with some you cannot have or be with. Falling in love with someone who loves you too but life has put you both on very separate paths. I wrote this one quite recently, be it a year ago I think. It’s not in my fav poem section but its nice that you would chose it to ask questions about as since, I’ve gone back and re-read it and I’m put straight back in the room I was when I felt those things. It’s funny how life treats us so unfairly in love but how it seems to work out better in the end. I think. Ha ha. I still remember that person and I always will.
Q:  ”A Life, When All Life Has Gone” may be about a breakup.  It has a feel of being about an ending, something that was coming for a while but maybe one or both parties pushed off, perhaps for a bit too long.  What can you tell us about this piece? 
AH: This poem is in fact about my drug addictions back when I was young. It’s about being so far gone that death no longer seems a threat, but a need. I openly admit that drugs caused allot of the problems I had, but I also admit that without them, I possibly wouldn’t have had a book out now. I look upon what drugs did to me menatlly, emotionally and physically with not only small amounts of regret, but with a fondness. Drugs gave me what I needed at a point in life where I had absolutely nothing. I was indeed just an empty, lifeless being with no stability in my life, no home, no friends, no nothing. Drugs gave me a release. They gave me something to look forward to. But, as with everyone who touches them, they promised so much and when they had me, they took everything back. You will find more poetry in the book about drugs. Not worded as such but if you read between the lines you’ll see it. There came appoint in my life where I knew there was no escape from addiction but death itself. There was a point in life where death itself took me but gave me back to the world, possibly because I had alot more to give. That I am thankful for these days. I’m wiser, I’m older, I have great plans and dreams that I look forward to making a reality. 
Q:  Where can people purchase your work? 
AH: People can grab a copy of either the paperback or an eBook for their ipads, iphones, ipods etc at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1964776 the eBook costs less than £2 and the paperback is £8.50
These, as you’re possibly aware, won’t be on sale for much longer. I don’t say this to try ramp up sales. Sales were / are never a priority. People can read my work for free at aidenhowarth.com if they wanted. I say this because as work on book number 2 is coming along nicely, I want to remove book 1 so that it remains special to the people who own a copy.
If people wanna get a hold of me, id happily invite them to join me on my many twitter exploits by just saying hello to @A1D3NH0
They can facebook me too if they wanna see more of my personal life, pictures etc by adding /AidenHowarth to the end of facebook.com
Or they can just leave me a note in the guestbook on my website 
Thank you for taking time out to show interest in what I write and I here by promise you a free copy of book 2 when it out. And believe me, that’s gonna be a game changer…… 
TG: If you don’t believe Aiden, then believe ME when I tell you that I believe Aiden and I know his next work will indeed change the game! Also, look out for a new interview with him as soon as he’s ready! 

‘Troy’s Big Break’ speaks volumes for a community that is often under-represented

Joseph Ausanio is an actor, screenwriter, and creator of the webseries ‘Troy’s Big Break’. Joseph also happens to be deaf but he does NOT allow that to keep him from doing all the things he dreams of and he encourages us all to follow suit. Another thing you should know about Joseph is that he is a gay man who is representing in such a positive way.

The unique thing about ‘Troy’s Big Break’ is there are no spoken lines. Almost all of the dialogue is signed and there are captions for those of us who do not speak sign language. You really have to check it out for yourself! Here is a little about the show and Joseph as only he can tell you:

Q: Can you talk a little about Troy’s Big Break?

Joseph Ausanio: Absolutely! It’s a unique show because it showcases Deaf talent. It’s about a Deaf director who faces different types of life challenges while looking for the perfect actress for his production. Things start to unfold to show what’s going on in his life.

Q: What has the response to the show been so far from the deaf community as well as the hearing community?

Joseph Ausanio: It’s pretty popular with the Rochester, NY folks, because that is where we filmed the show. And the people know us there. Rochester also has a large D/deaf community there and it’s truly a nice thing. The people who watched the show always approach the cast members and let them know that they are fans of the show.  That really means a lot.  I had hearing people messaging me saying that it was so different from the other things they watched because they’re so used to seeing shows with a full hearing cast, but the reception from them has been really positive.

Q: What guest stars would you like to have on the show?

Joseph Ausanio: Ooh, this is a tough one. I’d love to have Marlee Matlin on the show. She’s one of my inspirations. I would LOVE to get Amber Zion on the show. She’s an incredibly gifted Deaf actress and I love her work. I would also love to get Rikki Poynter, who’s a super awesome YouTube vlogger and I love her videos. She’s not afraid to speak out and I have tremendous respect for her for doing that.

I’d also love to see Kelsey Lindhorst’s character faint when she sees Nyle DiMarco show up in an episode. That’d be hilarious. Or even Troy’s mom to go out on a date with him! (Think Sophia Petrillo going on a date with Burt Reynolds in an episode of “The Golden Girls”)

I’m all about showcasing more Deaf talent out there.

Q: Who were some of your idols/role models growing up?

Joseph Ausanio: First, Marlee Matlin, because she inspired me to become an actor growing up. Also, Lucille Ball is one of the greatest comediennes I’ve ever watched. When I first saw her on TV, I couldn’t walk away from the television. She never fails to make me laugh every time I watch “I Love Lucy”. I admire her so much.

Q: Do you think we will see more shows that involve hearing impaired characters like Switched at Birth and your show? 

Joseph Ausanio: I REALLY hope so. I would love to write a TV series for any network that features characters that are D/deaf because I want to support diversity. We have millions of Deaf people in the world and it would be great to do more shows for them.

Q: What would you say to others who are trying hard to make their dreams come true and trying to overcome some obstacle they have no control over?  

Joseph Ausanio: I would say this:

“If you want to make it happen, do it. If you want to travel all over the world, go for it. If you want to make movies, do it.  Don’t wait for things to simply fall in your lap. I learned this life lesson the hard way. Just listen to your heart. If you want to follow your dreams, now is the time.”

Q: What made you decide to create a character who is also gay?

Joseph Ausanio: The reason why I decided to create a gay character was because the LGBT #DeafTalent felt that they weren’t always showcased, so I wanted to showcase them more.

Q: What would you say to those out there who are dealing with issues around coming out? Both in the deaf community and in the hearing community?

Joseph Ausanio: I remember when I came out, it was very scary. I was 19 and in college. I broke up with my ex-girlfriend and I was slowly coming out to a few close friends and then my family members. My family and friends are incredibly supportive and I feel fortunate for that. For the others, I want them to know that they are not alone in this. I can’t speak for other people, because we all have different experiences. I can say that no matter what, you will always get support from the LGBT community and their allies. If they’re scared, I’m here to talk. I want to lend a hand to provide support. We have a big support system. We have a lot of LGBT people and the allies in our Deaf community and we are so incredibly supportive of each other, and the same goes for the hearing community.

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

Joseph Ausanio: I had a great pep talk with a dear friend two weeks before he unexpectedly passed away; he was incredibly supportive of my dreams of moving to Los Angeles.  He said, “Seize the day.” He was right.

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

Joseph Ausanio: I’m bad at taking my own advice, but I try to give great advice to people. I would tell them, “Life is way too short to be unhappy.  Never give up your dreams even through the tough times, when you realize how strong you truly are.  Nothing….nothing is impossible.”

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

Joseph Ausanio: I can’t live without my family, who have been my rock.  I wish we could all live without hate and violence;  there is way too much of that in the world right now.

Q: Where can we find you and your show online?

Joseph Ausanio: You can find me on Twitter via @JosephAusanio and you can find Troy’s Big Break’s Twitter page via @TroysBigBreak. We also have a Facebook page of the show. You can also find the full episodes on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/troysbigbreak. All of the episodes are captioned for the D/deaf and hearing audiences.

Q: What’s up next for Joseph Ausanio and Troy’s Big Break?

Joseph Ausanio: I am hoping to do a third season of “Troy’s Big Break”. I have the season premiere’s script written already. I’m planning to chat with my cast & crew to see if they’re game.  I work with the most amazing people – both cast and crew.  They have all taught me a lot.   I wrote a few pilot scripts here and there. I’m always writing new stuff.

I recently wrote a feature screenplay that focuses on a Deaf woman and her struggles with life and love. I’m hoping that it might catch someone’s attention because the story is so powerful. I gave it to an actress I want for that role and she loved the script.  Maybe something will come of it soon.

WINGS Helps Domestic Violence Victims become Victorious

You may have seen me tweeting about an organization called WINGS. I wanted to take some time to explain what they do a bit further and invite you to join in showing your support to victims of domestic violence. Many times a person who is in such a situation feels hopeless, alone, and embarrassed. I believe, and so does WINGS, that with the proper encouragement, and the option of a safe place to go, victims can become victorious. So many times being heard and understood can inspire people to make difficult choices and turn their situation around.

WINGS has become one of the largest domestic violence service and housing providers in the state of Illinois. Single women and women with children are able to receive temporary safe shelter through WINGS housing. The staff provides assistance on an individual, one-on-one basis that allows women to set personal goals which enable them to work, continue education, and take care of themselves and their children.

The statistics are staggering, 19.3 MILLION women in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime. With those numbers, I am sure almost all of us know someone who has been affected by the issue.  The programs WINGS offers helps give them back their lives and their courage.

What WINGS wants to do for Mother’s Day is to give everyone an opportunity to show support for the women and children we know in our lives that have had to deal with this. You can be a part by participating in the campaign, #WINGS2beBOLD. Simply upload a photo of yourself or one with your Mothers holding a poster or paper displaying the hashtag  #WINGS2beBOLD to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. It’s an easy way to offer some encouragement and possibly inspire strength in someone who desperately needs to know we are with them in spirit.

I’m sure you have heard me say that each of us should take any opportunity we have to be a voice for the voiceless. Fear, shame, and hopelessness rob so many of their own voices. Any support we can offer may just help someone to take the steps necessary to turn their lives around and in many cases, even save someone. While we are all enjoying Mother’s Day with our own loved ones, we can surely take a few moments to extend a virtual hug to someone who truly needs it.

If you want to take it a step further, you can also donate to WINGS and find out more about what they do. Their website is full of valuable information and you can donate here: WINGS Program.

VP JOE BIDEN AT GROUNDBREAKING OF WINGS METRO:

You’re invited to the Sprint SuperBOLD50 Twitter Party

I’m pretty thrilled to share that I will be a panelist for the Sprint #SuperBOLD50 party this Saturday, February 6th at 8pm EST. Last year I made my life SO much easier by switching to Sprint and I haven’t looked back since. Being an entertainment influencer isn’t easy when you are constantly watching your data plan (as I was forced to do with my previous carrier). Now, I can tweet, post, scope, and even live stream TV right on my phone without worrying!

This happens to be an excellent time for you to consider switching to Sprint since they are offering to save you 50% off on your rate plan! So, you can join me in freedom and save some money too! Join us for the Twitter party to find out more, win some prizes, and even find out about at TOP SECRET surprise.

Below are all the details AND you will also need to RSVP here: http://tools2tiaras.com/join-sprint-superbold50-twitter-party-on-saturday-february-6th-at-8pm-et/

The Twitter Party Details:

When: Saturday, February 6th at 7pm CT (8pm EST, 5pm PST)
Follow: @RachelFerrucci @Momfluential @raisedbyculture
Where: Twitter – follow hashtag #SuperBOLD50
Hashtag: #SuperBOLD50
Brand: @SPRINT @SPRINTLATINO
Panelists:  @denverhousewife @teeco71 @sasakitime @anne_hogan

Twitter Party Prizes*:
We’re giving away $500 in Amazon gift cards and Sprint will make a Bold announcement!

**winner for door prize must have RSVP’d and must be present**

Don’t forget to RSVP and I’ll see you Saturday!