Author: Willie Pena

Are you addicted to porn and/or social media? New book teaches how to break free.

One of the problems with our always-connected lives is that many of us are becoming addicted to stuff on the  internet. Porn is easier to access than ever before, and even small kids can come across content which was once unavailable to anyone under 18 years of age. Even for those who stay away from porn, social media presents a different, but just as addictive trap which people cannot stay away from (hello Snapchat streaks).

Author A.N. Turner shares his story of digital dependence and how he broke free in his new book, Breaking the Feedback Loop: How I Liberated Myself from Internet Addiction and How You Can Too. The “digital diet” Turner talks about can be put into practice by anyone who is suffering from their social media or porn habits. The goal is to create healthier habits and help people reconnect with family, friends, school and other parts of “real life.”

We got the chance to interview the author about his experiences with porn and internet addiction. Read on for some fascinating insights into how companies get us addicted on purpose, plus a real person’s struggle and recovery.

Before we get into your book, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I went to the University of Pennsylvania and played varsity squash. I interned at a partner of Facebook working on advertising technology, then did similar work at Overstock, and soon will be starting again at an advertising technology company in New York. I researched and wrote the book during my junior and senior year at University, and I also worked on it while working in tech. I took a semester off my senior year to focus full time on it. I wrote it while I was correcting my own behavior and relationships with my devices.

Thanks. You worked on software used by some of the largest companies in the world in order to convince people to buy stuff. Could you explain in layman’s terms how this technology works, and what are the potential pitfalls for the end user?

Facebook offers software called Power Editor that any individual or business can use to run ads on Facebook (look it up!). However, some of the largest companies have needs that warrant their own software. For example, because they run many ads across Facebook and it’s other platforms, they look for tools that streamline the creation of ads. That said, Facebook’s out of the box software has been catching up with features offered by its partners and is increasingly better and better able to be used by large companies.

The software allows companies to quickly create, manage, and measure advertising campaigns on Facebook and it’s platforms. In no other advertising system is there the reach, the precise reach, that Facebook has. It lets you precisely target a large number of people who have characteristics relevant to your product or service. Those characteristics are determined through the data that you share as you use the service as well as the data that, at least in the past, has been acquired from third party data brokers. These data brokers are people that sell data on you, to Facebook, that you didn’t give to Facebook when using it, but that helps advertisers target people more effectively. The idea is to optimize the exchange of information between businesses and individuals.

This has tremendous economic value. But it has a cost in that, rather than with a monthly subscription model, with an advertising business model there is every incentive to hook users. This lets more ads be sold, and lets more data to be collected to make the ads more valuable.

What is your book Breaking The Feedback Loop about and why did you write it?

My book helps people understand the costs of things like social media, how those costs are connected to the business model, and how they can change their relationships with technology to improve their lives. There are a lot of economic resources dedicated to hooking people, and so it’s difficult to free yourself and warrants understanding in order to break free. This is told through the first person: through my journey realizing I was hooked, realizing that social media and digital entertainment has every reason to hook you, and realizing that my life would be better if I withdrew from that.

I made changes to my life that I share. The results were amazing, and I highly suggest people wake up and do the same. However, it’s not just about withdrawing from digital abuse. It’s important to improve the quality of your real life. For me that involved spending more time with other people, spending more time on work I enjoyed, and spending more time in nature, among else.

While in the short term you get a burst of pleasure from this digital entertainment, there are underlying costs like subconscious peer comparison and paranoia of surveillance and meaningless and fleeting external validation that NEED to be considered and factored into the time spent. Most people don’t factor in the costs, because they are not aware. I have tried to make people more aware of the costs. There are 100 citations in the book alongside the personal story.

What is the biggest takeaway you would like teenagers to have from the book?

What’s scarce is attention span and confidence. This is the currency of the future. Digital entertainment wears these down. It’s worth spending energy resisting these temptations in order to have the greater benefit of being free from them. It’s important to be able to focus on singular things for sustained periods of time.

And instead of turning to social media and porn and video games when lonely, relationships need to be nurtured. This is what’s going to be best in the long run.

Unfortunately sexual disability is not uncommon among young adults due to the “environmental” influence of porn. The research suggests it wears down dopamine receptor sensitivity, which screws up your ability to have meaningful sexual relationships. This is why drugs like Cialis have become very popular among young adults. The stats make it even more clear. The emergence of free porn tubing sites were easily abused by young adults and have changed the numbers of erectile dysfunction cases drastically.

The greatest competitive advantage you can have is to understand and control these things. Be confident that the energy spent is worth it, because it is. It is really hard as a teenager to do that. Almost impossible. Which is why I think schools and parents need to be involved in regulation. You will be the stars. Find other more productive outlets like real relationships, self reflection, and interests.

Teens are literally addicted to their devices. They go everywhere and check them constantly. What are some of the effects of this addiction?

The effect is reduced life satisfaction, reduced mental health, and reduced physical health. This was suggested recently in a paper related to social media use. However this likely extends to other use cases as well. That said, social media is particularly bad. It gets people hooked on the fleeting high from an artificial external validation of likes and hearts. And there’s the subconscious peer comparison underlying the dopamine hit from seeing information from your friends on the news feed. It’s so concentrated, it gives you a rush. But the concentrated peer comparison is harmful. You now want more external validation, or you want to buy some clothes from ads you see on the side.

Attention spans have reduced, and many young adults turn to drugs to combat that. Many academics believe this is a product of environmental change. Meaning, now our environment — what we interact with — is digital. It’s constantly updating, constantly distracting us, in a powerful, and completely unpredictable way, like the slot machines.

Again, your attention span is everything. It’s what’s going to let you do great things, and have great conversations. This is what’s important for the rest of your life. Don’t sacrifice it with this stuff. The medication is a temporary fix, and will leave you irritable and anxious and also addicted. What are the consequences going to be for these young adults using it so often? Time will tell.

How do companies manipulate us to get us addicted to social media?

Social media companies want you to be hooked. They make more money that way, and the shareholders want them to make more money, so they literally have somewhat of a fiduciary responsibility to do so. They do this through the cycle I reveal in the book, which has never been identified before.

The cycle is streamlined peer comparison on the news feed, which leads to insecurity, which leads to the desire to upload content for validation, or the desire to purchase products in the ads. The validation from the likes and hearts is meaningless and fleeting, and often leaves you more empty than before. So now you’re seeking that next hit, or trying to escape reality through the dopamine from the news feed, which only leads to more peer comparison.

You are not connected. You are alone. What you need to do is see people in the real world and as minimalist a life as possible on social media. Sorry, I said it.

What do you think the danger is from watching porn online?

The danger is really large. You can get a massive dopamine spike from the novelty you can browse through. You can watch multiple videos in one sitting. You can fast forward and rewind. You can toggle between videos in different tabs at once. This is not natural. But this is easy to do, and hard to avoid. So then your receptivity to sexual stimulation reduces and you become more apathetic.

Your consumption of novelty may escalate to support the constant dopamine highs you are expecting. All of a sudden now you are watching content you may have previously found disgusting and this is really tough for people. The difficulty is it’s easy to escalate, difficult to resist, and thus needs to be completely resisted.

I think it also messes up your relationship with your computer, a source of productivity. Don’t excessively deplete your energy. Save it for what’s important and keep the ability to have real relationships. You may not be able to have an erection or ejaculate as a young adult if you continue to use it.

If you had the power to regulate the Internet to prevent some of the bad effects you talk about, what would you suggest?

I think education is important. To be prepared for life as a young person you need to understand these issues. Integration in curriculum would be helpful. At a certain point, people will always have opiates and similar versions of opiates, and the important thing is to be able to moderate them if you think it’s worth it for your life to do so. My belief having reviewed the research is that it is for the vast majority of people.

How did you break free personally?

I broke free by gradually reducing the digital stimulation in my life while making my real life more meaningful. So, gradually reducing use of social media and porn, among else, while also having more relationships, going out more, and spending more time on interests. It has been invaluable.

Now I use social media moderately, in complete control. And I haven’t watched porn in over two years. One of the things that helped most with social media, and sorry I haven’t mentioned this yet, is stopping checking notifications. No more notifications. They are random, unpredictable reward, which leads to obsession. You reduce anxiety over who interacted with your profile. The benefit isn’t worth getting hooked.

Make your profile more private by changing your settings so you have less obsession about this. Have less photos and friends. Only real friends.

Where can people find out more or get help for their own social media or porn habits?

Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson is a great resource. He reviewed my book after publishing and he is quoted multiple times.

There is not much else on social media. Reading Hooked by Nir Eyal can help you understand why you feel addicted, which can help you escape. Mary Anne Layden at UPenn has done great research on this topic. The forum NoFap on Reddit has 300K+ subscribers posting about the topic of porn specifically. Your parents may not understand these issues, and your friends may not talk about them, but you are not alone.

What do you have coming up next?

I’m promoting this work so that people who need it will see it. I soon start working again and will no doubt get new perspectives. I pursue my interests and focus on being social to offset these addictions.

Could we please get a selfie so our readers can get a better feel for the real you? : )

Kelsey Leon from ‘Chicken Girls’ Interview with Teens Wanna Know!

Chances are you have heard of the ‘Chicken Girls’ web series on Brat Network. Its full of young social media influencers and deals with the usual dramas of high school life. So of course its got a massive following among teens!

One of its stars Kelsey Leon, a 15-year-old actress, dancer and model that is known for her role as ‘Kimmie & Power Surge Dancer’ in the show, as well as appearances in Nickelodeon’s “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn” and Amazon’s “Just Add Magic.”

With Season 3 of Chicken Girls under development, we got the chance to get to know Kelsey a little better, Check out the Q&A below!

Photographer: Mario Barberio, Makeup: Robert Bryan, Hair: J Michael, Stylist: Cat Wright
Top: Lottie Moss x PacSun (@pslottiemoss), Jeans: Levi’s (@levis)

Hello Kelsey, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions! You play Kimmie, one of the Power Surge Dancers in Chicken Girls. Why do you think the show has become so successful?

Hi! Of course. In my opinion, the reason “Chicken Girls” has become so successful is because majority of the cast are social media influencers that have a huge fan base, which makes viewers want to watch. Also, the show is about high school drama and normal high school relationships. That being said, it’s relatable to kids our age and younger.

What can you tell us about ‘Kimmie’. How are you similar to her? How are you different?

‘Kimmie’ is one of the PowerSurge Dancers. The PowerSurge Dancers are rivaling against the opposing team, Attaway. I’m similar to her because I’m a dancer. I’m different from her because I’m not that mean in real life, haha. 🙂

Who do you hang out with most from the cast?

Awh, this is a hard one. We’re all usually in the same place- either in the hair and makeup trailer or doing school work together. All of my cast mates are super sweet, so I couldn’t pick just one. Outside of set, we usually all hang out together.

What can you tell us about the upcoming third season?

This upcoming season is definitely going to have a lot of plot twists and things you’ve never seen before in season one or season two. Get ready and stay tuned.

Top: Lottie Moss x PacSun: @pslottiemoss, Jeans: Levi’s @levis, Sunglasses: Zac Zac Posen @baxterandbonny, Cuff: Soon

You appeared in Nicky Jam’s music video “El Amante.” Tell us what he was like in person and what that whole experience was like.

Yes! Nicky Jam was super fun to work with and so personable. The whole experience was so surreal. It was my first working job as a dancer, so being on set with such a powerful artist in the music industry was absolutely incredible.

What’s Feeding America about and how do you contribute to that organization?

There are millions of children and adults who do not get the meals they need to thrive. The team from Feeding America work to get nourishing food from farmers, manufacturers, and retailers to people in need. Every day, more than 46 million children and adults can’t afford food due to underemployment and rising costs of living.

I contribute to the organization as I help sort, clean, and bag produce. The produce then goes into the paper bags we design and gets delivered to the people who need it most. Every time I go, we always get the opportunity to do a different activity (whether it’s a different produce or an entirely different project). I love anything charity related, so being able to work at this organization in my community is amazing.

Most awkward experience you’ve had IRL?

When you see your crush waving at you, so you wave back…and you realize he was waving to his friends behind you.

Biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve is when people slurp their drinks.

Favorite musical artist?

My favorite musical artist is Dua Lipa. All of her songs are so unique; I love dancing and singing to them.

Dream role?

My dream role is to book a lead acting role in a movie or a series regular role on a TV Show.

Favorite donut flavor?

My go-to donut is definitely a Glazed Donut from Krispy Kreme. They are the best!

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?

People might be surprised to know that I’ve been singing recently. Stay tuned. 🙂

What are you working on next?

We are shooting season three of “Chicken Girls” this summer. 

Can we please get a selfie of whatever you are up to at the moment?


Watch some Chicken Girls below!

Interview with Bella Shepard “Alice” on Brat Network’s “A Girl Named Jo”

Brat Network’s newest series “A Girl Named Jo” launched this week, and we got the chance to do a Q&A with one of its stars, Bella Shepard. She plays Alice — who isn’t exactly BFF material. The series is a teen mystery set in 1963, starring Annie LeBlanc and Addison Riecke as two characters who become unlikely friends from opposite sides of the tracks and uncover the community’s complex history.

Let’s meet Bella!

Hello Bella, nice to e-meet you! Before we get into your role on Brat Network’s “A Girl Named Jo,” tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I’m originally from Michigan and moved to LA 3 years ago. I am very sporty, I was a former gymnast, before I started acting. I wakeboard, ski, figure skate, and surf. I also am a huge animal lover and I have 4 dogs and 2 guinea pigs.

Great. I watched the trailer for “A Girl Named Jo,” and it seems pretty intense! Tell us about the show and your character “Alice.”

Alice is a proper, seemingly innocent, popular girl from the 60’s. She causes a decent amount of trouble, but deep down, I think she struggles with how horribly she treats people. I believe Alice will have a lot to show about what motivates her if there are additional seasons! Crossing my fingers that I can explore more sides of her.

Why do you think teens are going to want to watch this series?

It’s very different. It gives more credit to the younger teen audience by giving them more than slapstick comedy. It has mystery and an intriguing storyline to follow. It was great fun to film.

What’s been the best part about working on that show so far?

As an actor, it’s always my favorite part to create a character that comes alive outside of a script. I get to breathe an entire person to life and I love it. Besides that, making friends with the cast, and working with such a talented, professional team, has been really fun.

How did you get the role?

I auditioned. As an actor, you go on hundreds of auditions, so it’s just a way of life for us. Funny story though, my house is a “working actor” too! We film a lot of tv, commercials, films at our house. “Chicken Girls the Movie” filmed at our house way back in January. When I went in to audition for “A Girl Named Jo,” in late April, I recognized Annie. We didn’t really know each other, but I had seen her at our house! I don’t know if she remembered me though! It’s great to know her now. She’s very sweet. It was so nice to get to know her better.

What do you like the most about a) Annie b) Addison?

Annie is down to earth, very open and kind. We were both gymnasts so I understand her work ethic. She works very hard and I feel protective of her. She’s so sweet and easy to be with. Addison is so funny! She’s incredibly professional as an actor and so very talented. She is a giving scene partner and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to work with her. And, seriously, she’s just so funny. She makes me laugh so hard. I love them both.

Your hair is naturally dark, but is now pretty blonde. Does having blonde hair change anything…like is it true that blondes have more fun? : )

Haha! I gotta be honest, it was a SHOCK to go blonde. But, it IS fun. More fun? I don’t know, haha. But, I really believe that it’s ok to have fun with hair and makeup. You shouldn’t feel pressure to have your hair or makeup any specific way, just have fun and do what makes you happy. Super short, really long, dark, light, curly, straight!? You will never please everyone and you don’t need to. Just be the best you, you can be.

You have worked on notable films/shows such as “Oz the Great and Powerful” as well as “Grace & Frankie.” What single moment in show business stands out most in your mind so far?

Wow. I have had so much fun, I can’t pick just one! Meeting Sam Raimi as a child was so incredible. He wore a suit everyday and was so confident. He gave me a line, and changed my life. I’m in LA because of that moment. Holding hands with Michelle Williams was so comforting, I love her so much. She doesn’t even know how that little moment made me feel. Meeting Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda was the BEST. Lily is from Detroit too, and I totally vibed with her. But, to have Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin just come up and introduce themselves to little old me??? Oh my gosh! It completely solidified how I want to be in this buisness. Respectful, gracious, hard-working, and of course ICONIC!! 🙂

If you could “do over” one thing as an actress, what would it be?

Everything I have done continues to lead me to where I am meant to be. All of my setbacks have given me an opportunity to be stronger and better. There are roles that I have lost, but you have to embrace that it wasn’t yours if you didn’t book it and know that something better is coming. On a wishful “do over” note, I filmed for 21 days in Hawaii and I’d love to do that over!!

Dream role?

So I swim in a silicone mermaid tail, it’s been a hobby forever, and I watched Splash a million times as a child. To remake that?? Major dream. Of course I dream of working with an amazing actor like Timothee Chalamet, or landing a theatrical role in a Scorsese, Spielberg, or Tarantino film. Kill Bill Volume 3?? Yes please!

Favorite YouTuber

It changes a lot, but right now, Hailey Sani. She lives in the area and gives great shopping tips.

Biggest pet peeve?

Loud chewers. Haha.

Favorite dessert?

I bake a lot. My Chocolate Chip cookies and our super secret family recipe for No-bake cookies are two favorites. Another major favoite, birthday cake. My mom and I buy birthday cake for no reason! Like, Happy Wednesday, let’s buy a birthday cake! Yellow cake, white frosting only.

Most awkward experience IRL (not related to acting)?

Well, I do this weird thing where I dance and sing when I’m eating really good food. Haha. I’ve been caught more than once in my own food world, not even realizing I’m dancing and singing to myself, out of happiness. I’ve done that since I was a little kid!

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?

I play the drums. I also can play several other instruments by ear. I just pick them up and can usually figure out how to play. I don’t put enough time in to be super proficient at any of them, except the drums, but I love to play guitar, ukelele, keyboards etc in my room.

What are you working on next?

I am taking a break to enjoy summer, probably a month off. My best friend from home and my cousin are visiting, and I want to surf!

Can we please get a selfie of whatever you are up to at the moment for the fans?

Sure, attached! I’m just hanging with my friend Layla, shopping and laughing. 🙂 Thank you for asking these great questions. It was so fun!

Gunnar Sizemore – Busy Screen and Voice Actor Interview with Teens Wanna Know!

Gunnar Sizemore is a 13-year-old screen and voice actor who began his acting career at age three on national commercials for brands such as Juicy Juice, Old Navy, The Hartford and Disney. He has lent his acting and voice talents to the hit country music drama “Nashville,” the Disney XD show “Kickin’ It,” “Doc McStuffins,” “The Book of Life,” “The Prophet,” “Fences,” and many many more.

At the age of 10, Gunnar was nominated for Best Actor in the short film Heartfall at the 168 International Film Festival and his movie The Night Guardian won Best Comic Book Film at Comic Con.

He plays the guitar and an unusual Japanese instrument called the Otomatone, and also speaks Japanese and Spanish! With all he has on his plate, he still finds time to give back to his community. He participates in the community outreach program Angel On My Shoulder and is a proud Ambassador for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Let’s find out more about him in our interview below!

Hello Gunnar, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for Teens Wanna Know! Tell us a little about yourself and your roles on Cartoon Networks “Craig of the Creek’ and “Ben 10.”

My name is Gunnar, I am 13 years old, I love basketball, movies, classic rock, cartoons, and video games, and I am an actor and voiceover artist. Currently I’m recurring on the Cartoon Network series “Ben 10” as Billy Billions, the rich enemy of Ben who always gets what he wants, and “Craig of the Creek” as Jason the Junior Forest Scout who tries to be the leader of the creek.

I’ve heard you are starring in a soon-to-be-released Nickelodeon original movie with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). What can you tell us about the movie, and what was Mark Hamill like?

The movie hasn’t been announced yet, but when it is, I’ll share the details. Sadly, I haven’t been able to meet Mark yet because we recorded on different days, but if I do I would freak out! I have heard nothing but good things about him.

Any funny stories from working in that set?

There is a lot of action and slapstick comedy in this movie, so being in the booth and having to make all the falling noises or fighting grunts made all of us crack up.

You’ve already got a few voice acting credits to your name. Do you ever get to record any of your lines from home in your pajamas, or do you always have to go to a studio?

Actually yes, but only my auditions. My parents built a recording booth in our house so I can do auditions, but I work with so many cool people that I think if I walked into a session in my pajamas they would all laugh.

While doing voice acting, do you make faces and move your hands and body a lot – or is it mostly a still kind of thing?

With voiceover, you have a lot more freedom to make silly faces, but you can’t move your body too much because you have to stay in front of a microphone because it will pick up the noise.

Your dad Kevin is also an actor. What’s the best advice he has ever given you?

He gives me a lot of great advice. One of the best tips he has ever given me is that acting is reacting and if you believe it, then it’s real and it makes your performance more real for the audience.

Your mom Gina likes to draw characters on your lunch bags. How many has she done so far, and which is your all-time favorite?

She has done over 250 snack bags! She started when I was in fifth grade and now I am in eighth grade. Two of my favorites she’s done are Wimpy from Popeye and Woody Woodpecker. Her instagram with all them on there is @coachlombardi.

Tell us about the youtube channel “Monday Shorts” and how that got started.

My YouTube channel “Monday Shorts” was a project I started two years ago with my cousin and very close friend Justin Lombardi. At the time, he was in film school, and we wanted to make a short film. When we finished, we decided we should post it on YouTube, and we couldn’t think of a channel name. It was a Monday in July, so we decided to make our channel name “Monday Shorts” and post short films on Mondays (not every Monday!). Later along the line, we became very busy and needed a break from the channel, but stay tuned for more surprises in the future and watch our previous videos!

If you weren’t an actor, what would your other dream job be?

I think I would either want to be an NBA basketball player or an animator on a cartoon series.

Favorite YouTuber?

I have a lot of favorite YouTubers! Lately, I’ve been watching horror game Let’s Plays from Markiplier, but I also watch other gaming YouTubers like Clint Stevens and Game Theory. I watch a lot of animators such as TheOdd1sOut and Domics, too. I think my favorite YouTuber right now is probably either Markiplier or Jacksfilms.

Biggest pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve is the noise nail files make when you file your nails. It sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me!

Favorite color?

My favorite color is red.

Most awkward experience IRL?

One of my most awkward experiences IRL was when I went to a Clippers game with my friend Noah and people kept calling me Finn Wolfhard [from Stranger Things – Ed.]. It was really funny though!

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you, besides the many languages you speak and the otamatone you play.

One thing not many people know about me is that I am pretty good at roller and ice skating. Note I said pretty good, not great!

Also, I’m a huge Funko Pop collector. I’m right at 250 so far. I don’t get every one that I see, I’m very selective and really look hard for the Chase Pops. My favorite is probably my autographed “Lucio” from Overwatch that I got at Comic Con.

What are you working on next? 

I just finished two projects, a movie in Nashville called “The World We Make” about a family that has gone through tragedy in their lives and then tested even further when racial tension surfaces on my brother’s best friend who’s like a brother to me. The other was a short with Billy Zane called “By Way of Guitar” where Billy and I had to street duel one another playing the guitar as people walk by. That was a blast, haven’t played the guitar on film since I did the TV show “Nashville” a few years ago.

In November Amazon’s releasing the 26 episode animation series by Dreamworks that I’ve been working on for the last year in a half. I can’t wait till I can announce it and for everyone to see it. It’s an amazing cast of voice actors and the whole team from our director to writers are fantastic. Also, the film “Intensive Care” about three low-life criminals who try to rob an elderly lady and I kinda mess things up as the paperboy, just released in Switzerland and Japan.

18. Can we please get a couple of selfies of whatever you are up to for the fans?

Here you go! This is about 10% of my collection and I’m hoping to get to Washington state this summer to the Funko Pop headquarters. The other is with my dog Meadow named after the legend Meadowlark Lemon from the Harlem Globetrotters.

Follow Gunnar:

Lexi DiBenedetto “Prudence” from Knight Squad Interview

Fans of Nickelodeon’s new hit series, Knight Squad know Lexi DiBenedetto as Prudence, the knight-in-training who’s heart is as big as her strength — being as she is part giant.

What you might not kow is that she is a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. We asked Lexi a few questions about both Knight Squad and DAR — read her answers and get to know her better below!

Hello Lexi, nice to e-meet you! Before we get into your role on Nickelodeon’s Knight Squad, tell us a little about yourself.

Nice to e-meet you too! Well, I grew up on an island off the coast of North Carolina, so the beach is my happy place. I got involved with community theater when I was pretty young so acting has always been my biggest passion and a huge part of my life. When I’m not acting, I love to spend time with my dogs or go horseback riding!

Great. Now tell us about Knight Squad and your character, Prudence?

Prudence is one quarter giant her mother’s side. She has giant strength and a giant heart. I love that Prudence is loyal to her friends and simply wants everyone to be happy. When there’s a problem she always tries her best to fix it. I also really appreciate Prudence’s love for food.. she never turns down a good snack and I can respect that!

Most memorable moment from working on that set so far?

A very touching scene between Prudence and Ciara toward the end of the season. I can’t share details because it hasn’t aired yet, but I think everyone will love it!

Who do you hang out with most from the cast?

I work so much that when I have time off it is refreshing to spend it with my friends outside of work.

You are a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Can you tell us a little about that, the relative who was part of the Revolution, and the role he or she played?

Of course. Being a part of the DAR means you can directly trace your ancestors back to a relative that fought in the Revolutionary War. My relative was Solomon Johnson. He was born in 1757 and served as a Privet in the 10th North Carolina continental line, continental army. 

Sometimes patriotic people get criticized for being old-fashioned or bigots or whatever. What do you think is the biggest misconception about the Revolution and being patriotic?

This a complex question to fully answer in a few sentences. However, I think it’s unfortunate that being patriotic has become confused with being a bigot. I come from a military family going many generations back, including my dad, who was a marine for 20 years. I think that being patriotic, to me personally, is having respect for the veterans that risk their life or lose their life every day for our freedom.

Any other causes you are involved with?

Several animal shelters and the LA mission.

Dream role as an actress?

Ideally, I’d love to just continue working and doing what I love for the rest of my life. I’d love to be Supergirl if they make a movie and just transition into film in general. I’ve always admired the films that tell powerful stories and I want to be a part of something like that.

Favorite Youtuber?

Whitney Simmons. I love her workout videos and positive attitude! 

Biggest pet peeve?

LA Traffic and fake people!

Favorite musical artist?

I love so many different types of music I can never pick a favorite! I love anything classic rock or reggae. I also love Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth as well as Lady Gaga!

Most awkward experience IRL?

I would say waving back at someone only to realize they weren’t waving at me!

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?

I love classic cars and have to sleep in socks!

What are you working on next?

Something very exciting! I unfortunately can’t talk about it yet.. but when I can I will be sure to update all of my fans and Instagram followers.

Can we please get a selfie of whatever you are up to at the moment for the fans?

Of course! 🙂

Laurie Hernandez Interview – Olympic Gold (Gymnastics) & DWTS Winner!

We spoke with vivacious and inspiring gymnast, author, and now clothing designer Laurie Hernandez about winning Olympic Gold, finishing first on Dancing With the Stars, body positivity, and more!

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Alex & Me’s Lily Mae Silverstein – Interview with Teens Wanna Know! and Film Review

Fans of Disney XD’s series Bunk’d are familiar with Lily Mae Silverstein, who plays “Lydia the Weasel” on the show. This busy teen actress also stars as “Penny” in the Nickelodeon/Warner Bros. July, 2018 release of Alex & Me starring Alex Morgan (US Women’s National Soccer Team) and Siena Agudong from Star Falls and Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn on Nickelodeon.

What you might not know is that Lily is also an aspiring filmmaker, having been part of an award winning cinematic arts program at her middle school. She is also loves animals, and has collected donations and volunteered at various shelters to celebrate her birthday every year since age 5.

Lily is very cool, smart, and talented — as you will discover for yourself when you read our interview with her below. And make sure to keep scrolling all the way to the bottom to read our quick review of Alex & Me!

Hi Lily, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Before we get into your role in Alex & Me starring soccer phenom Alex Morgan, tell us a little about yourself.

I have been acting for a total of 12 years now and I have to say that it truly is my “Number 1” passion. My mom was in the advertising business when she had my older brother.  She took him to auditions as a baby, and then she soon did the same with me. I got my first role in a Disneyland commercial, which is a dream come true for a two year old. I have been acting ever since.

But acting is not the only passion that I have encountered. I love playing soccer, which runs in the family. I love to dance and tumble, which I am trying to combine into a love for cheerleading. I just graduated middle school 2 DAYS AGO, and am excited to move onto greater things at my high school like debate and musical theater. But nothing will stop me from going through each audition process until I find my next role.

Alex & Me comes out June 12thon digital and June 19th on DVD + Blu-Ray. Tell me about your character and why you think teens should watch this movie.

I play Penny in this movie–a fierce and fabulous character. She may not be the best soccer player at first, but definitely knows how to boss others around. Although she can be seen as quite demanding, she really wants what’s best for the team and won’t let any opponent get in her way. We just recently saw the world-premier of the film and I was ecstatic with the finished product.

Alex & Me is an empowering film showing that girls can do anything they put their minds to. We need more women role models and I know you can find some in this movie. It truly is a movie inspired by family and love, which is something I have found with the cast mates.  Just remember that girls can do anything they want with hard work and some help from family.

Were you a soccer player before this film? If so, tell me about about it (favorite position, years played, etc).

Yes, I was a soccer player before this film and still am. I’m not going to flatter myself, because my dad gave me hints about how my soccer playing wasn’t to his liking in the film. [lol, dads will be dads – Ed.] But, Soccer has been a part of my life from a very young age. My dad was born and raised in Switzerland where soccer is extremely popular. Being a soccer player himself definitely put some ideas in my head from a young age.

I love playing forward, but usually find myself in a defense position. I even found a love for playing goalie on set. Whenever anyone would want to practice shots on goal in between scenes, I would try to run into the goal first to play goalie. I believe I have been playing soccer on and off for about 10 years now and I hope to continue.

What was your on-set soccer training like for this movie?

The soccer training was really great. We had an onset coach to help with specific moves for specific shots and warming up, Stephen “Macca” McAnespie. He also orchestrated a lot of the soccer games.  He’d tell us where to run so we could make the shot for the camera.  He was really great and we had a lot of fun scrimmaging games for the film.   We also had a small basketball court at our hotel.  We would kick soccer balls around after our daily wrap. It was usually just six girls practicing their shots for hours. This is just one of the ways that us girls got really close.

Did you fan-girl when you met Alex Morgan, or was it a pretty chill moment?

Meeting Alex Morgan was surprisingly a super chill moment. Reagen Champanella, (who plays Bug in the film and was the inspiration for the script) ran over and said she just met Alex Morgan! She took me and a few other girls over and introduced us. We said our hellos and Alex was so nice. I was even able to show her a picture of a girl on my soccer team who dressed up in her jersey for Halloween. It was a normal introduction to such a sweet person.

With that said, I nearly freaked out when meeting Jerry Trainor. I shook his hand and melted in the fact that I was such a huge fan. I told him that I met Nathan Kress when working on Henry Danger and he said that he actually visited Nathan the day that I was working!!! I definitely did not play it cool.

Who did you hang out with most on set?

The movie surrounds a team called the Breakaways. So, every scene involved the team.  There were 5 soccer-playing actors and 6 girls from New Orleans that were on a real soccer team.  The girls from New Orleans were really great.  They invited us to hang out and they really taught us about the city—what to do and where to hang out.  They invited us to come back for Mardi Gras. My family and I are considering it for next year! In conclusion, we were one big family that played around and had fun everyday.

You’ve got some directing chops, right? Do you think you will lean more towards filmmaking or acting as you grow older?

For the past three years, I was apart of the Cinematic Arts Academy at my middle school and made many films throughout the years. There have been major flops and successes that have helped me learn what it’s like to be in the industry. My filmmaking has helped me tremendously as an actress because I am more aware with what I like and dislike from actors and actresses in my films.  I am very intrigued by the world of stop motion and would love to make more of those films. In other words, I hope to continue acting and filmmaking for as long as I have the time and energy to do both.

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.

I have extremely flexible joints.  I can dislocate my shoulder and put my feet behind my head. [woah – Ed.]

Biggest pet peeve?

When peers discredit your feelings like they are not important.

Favorite book?

“The Outsiders” by my favorite author S.E. Hinton. Since “The Outsiders” I have gone on to read every other book that she has written and have loved them so much as they continued to inspire me to write my own some day.

Favorite musical artist?

Although I love pop music, I am more of a theater gal. Some of my favorite musicals include “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Something Rotten.” I have seen both on Broadway and will never stop listening to their soundtracks!!!

Favorite movie?

My favorite movie is Deadpool because it is so funny and it stars my dream husband, Ryan Reynolds. Furthermore, I recently saw Deadpool 2, opening night, and may have shed a tear.

Most embarrassing moment you wish you could do over?

When I was around the age of 8, I went in for a role for the show Jessie. While I was waiting for the lady to call me in, I was playing around on my mom’s phone. When I got into the room, I was unprepared and forgot all of my lines. The lady sent me out to get my script and I was crying to my mom. But, the casting director was understanding and gave me another chance with script in hand.

I surprisingly got a callback! But, I am glad that I didn’t get the role because who knows if I would have gotten on Bunk’d. I also have learned a valuable lesson to this day. Before an audition, you will rarely find me on my phone. You will find me constantly reviewing my lines to be prepared for any changes in the room.  That was an embarrassing moment, but a moment that I would not want to do over.

What do you have coming up next?

I recently was in an episode of Walk the Prank that I am excited to watch. I am also excited for Bunk’d season 3; where you might encounter a certain familiar character “Weasel.”

Could we get a selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? Its something we do for the fans!

-Here is a cringey bathroom selfie-

I took this because my bathroom has good lighting and I am just at home watching movies with my family after a long day of learning lines for an audition. This is my average day, but something I enjoy very much.

Follow Lily here:

Alex & Me Film Review

Siena Agudong plays Reagan, an aspiring soccer player whose parents ignore her soccer dreams in favor of supporting her older brother’s football career. “I’m going to go move to Alaska and join a cult!” she says to her parents, played by Chuti Tiu and Jim Klock, who are so focused on their son’s college scholarship prospects that they remain oblivious to her proclamation — and her request for a ride to soccer tryouts.

After getting to tryouts on a broken bicycle, Reagan fails to impress the coach of the number one team. Dejected, she throws a tantrum in her bedroom and tries to rip down a poster of her hero, USWNT star Alex Morgan — only to slip off her chair, whack her head on the hard edge of a shelf, and pass out. Shorty then starts trippin’ – she is literally woken up by a hallucination of Alex Morgan herself, who dips from the poster and pops up in the flesh to motivate Reagan back on track like a soccer fairy godmother.

Reagan joins a team of girls who’ve gotten cut from other teams and, thanks to Morgan, helps turn it around despite many challenges. The moral of the story is to keep pushing and to work hard, and the movie does a good job at delivering the message while also being humurous.

The movie is full of characters and situations anyone who has participated in youth soccer will recognize: mean coaches, beer-bellied refs, the coach who people think is a soccer expert just because he’s British, working on whatever crappy practice fields you can scrape up, grass allergies, after-game ice cream, parents who yell at their kids while they are playing, and more. The movie probably captures what its like to play AYSO and youth club soccer in America better than any film to date.

There are some inexplicable moments though. Reagans’s best friend at school somehow fails to go to any of her games, and a budding relationship with a boy never really goes anywhere (he doesn’t show up to cheer her on either, for example). And the storyline about a “fake” coach is kind of silly, especially since the character played by Jerry Trainor just kinds of disappears despite being the funniest in the film. As of this writing, Trainor’s name doesn’t even appear on the cast list for the film on IMDB! It’s like he showed up one day, hammed it up on set for a few hours, and then split — strange for an actor very well known to Nickelodeon fans from Drake and Josh and iCarly — his part could have been bigger or at least brought back at some point.

Production quality on the film isn’t superb. In some scenes, the handheld camera work and insufficient lighting on actor’s faces were distracting, and some shots needed better focus. But I am just being nitpicky. As far as the acting — well, Alex Morgan is not a pro actor, but she is likable enough to get away with it in this movie. Everyone else does an adequate job being “Disney-ish,” which is fine since this film is for that demographic.

Final opinion: If you are older, this movie is not for you unless you are a hardcore Alex Morgan fan. But if you play youth soccer, you are probably going to enjoy it!

Overall rating: 6 out of 10.

p.s. I feel sorry for any future soccer player who has the misfortune of being named Natalie Gunderson. Major shade thrown, bro.

Stuck on a Feeling – Carly Peeters Release Party Red Carpet & Performance

Live performances! Fun red carpet interviews! Miss Teen International 2017 Carly Peeters debuted her new single and video for “Stuck on a Feeling” at Cherry Soda Studios in Los Angeles, and reporter Keira Pena covered the action.

Interviews: Carly Peeters, Pynk Le’monade, Bryce Xavier, Elizabeth J. Cron, Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick, Asia Aragon, Serena Laurel, Jacob Hopkins, Kash Hovey, Kathy Kolla, Terrell Ransom Jr., Savannah Kennick, Sheldon Bailey, James Ryan, Griffin Morgan, Madison Deaver, Orli & Arielle Gottesman, Somalie Inez.

Watch “Stuck on a Feeling”

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Host: Keira Pena

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Nickelodeon’s Star Falls’ Jadiel Dowlin Chats with Teens Wanna Know!

Have you watched Star Falls yet? It’s the new Nickelodeon show starring Siena Agudong who plays a teen that convinces a Hollywood star to move himself and his family into her rural house in order to set him up with her mom. Hilarity ensues as cultures clash.

One of its other leads is Jadiel Dowlin, from Toronto, Canada. He is an actor and scriptwriter (for Dino Dana) born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Jadiel started his career modeling and appearing in
commercials at the age of 12, followed up by a run on popular children’s television game show series Zoink’d and then a lead role in the Japanese-produced DVD series GrapeSEED. In 2013, he was cast in Annedroids, which earned him a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Performer in a Children’s or Pre–school Children’s Series for his role as Nick Clegg. He has also won a 2015 Joey Award for Best Actor in a TV Action Leading Role and a 2015 Young Artist Awards for Outstanding Young Ensemble in a TV Series.

Other film and television credits include Rogue (DirecTV), Dino Dana (Amazon
Prime), The Swap (Disney Channel), The Stanley Dynamic (YTV) and Super Why! (PBS Kids).

Outside of showbiz, Jadiel loves comic books and playing soccer. He has also broken records as a sprinter in running events including the 4 × 100 metres relay.

Whew! This guy is talented and busy. Let’s get to know him better in our interview below!

Hi Jadiel, nice to e-meet you! Before we talk about Star Falls, tell us a little bit about yourself.

It’s great meeting you as well so we can talk about Star Falls and lots more. I’m a Canadian actor, writer, comic enthusiast, and I love track and field. It so happens that I’m fluent in Spanish as well and I fully embrace my Hispanic Afro-Caribbean heritage – thanks to my Panamanian parents.

Tell us about Star Falls and your character Phoenix Brooks

Star Falls is a unique TV series on Nickelodeon that airs on Saturday evenings. It’s about a celebrity movie star dad that has to move to a small town to shoot a movie and decides that he wants to take his three Hollywood kids with him. The local veterinarian’s daughter decides to perform some schemes to have her mom meet her idol, Craig Brooks, the movie star. Phoenix is Craig’s oldest son, and he’s not a typical teenager; he’s very wise beyond his years. A total philosopher! And with his quirkiness he provides a different element to the show.

What has been the most rewarding part about working on this show so far?

There have been so many rewarding experiences but since you asked for one… I would have to say working with the cast. I’m an only child so being able to perform a role that entails having a younger sister and little brother was very different and enlightening. It’s given me the opportunity to act as a role model and leader for them, while also keeping me on my toes since Bo and Diamond (Phoenix’s siblings) are a handful. Watch the show to experience the shenanigans and many adventures.

And the most challenging?

I don’t see situations as challenges; I’m the type of person that sees situations as an opportunity to learn. There’s one thing I’m glad that I won’t have to do any longer now that I’m 18, and that’s two hours of school time per day for each day I’m on set. That was difficult to juggle because young actors performing time has to be cut short by mandated schooling. So I’m definitely glad that’s over! But it’s a bonus because now that I’m 18, I get to play younger roles so production companies love it!

Funniest moment on set as an actor?

That would have to be scenes that involve animals. Those are the most fun because animals (like babies) bring a different energy to the set, and although they are trained, sometimes things don’t go as planned. I’ve experienced snakes, tarantulas, skunks, donkeys, dogs, birds, cats and many others. But there’s one scene in an upcoming Star Falls episode where we had a goat. Well, it so happens the goat decided to go the bathroom during a take! It simultaneously defecated and urinated at the same time, and I was inches away from it! We had to clear the set and it took a while to have everything cleaned.

You are a scriptwriter as well as an actor. How did you get involved writing for Dino Dana?

I became close to the creators and writers of Annedroids, which is produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment. Although it’s been a few years since the TV series, we’ve kept in-touch and I was provided with the opportunity to pitch episodes for Dina Dana, and I’ve written several episodes so far. I loved this experience because I’m able to learn another aspect of the film industry, and create art through another medium, e.g., production, writing, directing. I’m excited to keep growing and produce my own content.

Your parents are from Panama. What part of that culture are you most proud of?

I would have to say that I’m so happy that I’m able to speak Spanish because it opens up the world to me. It makes travelling a joy, and bilingualism allows you to connect to more people, cultures etc. Plus the flavourful Panamanian/Hispanic food and the variety of upbeat music gives me a sense of vibrancy and culture I can imbue in my acting. Like my favorite saying is: “Oye, que pasa?!” (Hey, what’s happening).

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Gosh, that’s an easy one! When people give spoilers about TV shows, movies, books. That drives me crazy. I actually mute my alerts and stay off media to ensure I don’t read anything by accident. Because it’s always best to experience climactic events firsthand in the cinema, not on your twitter feed!

Biggest guilty pleasure?

Being huge in the world of comics, I enjoy collecting these action figures called Hot Toys. Only thing is that they’re super rare to get and a tad expensive!

If you could do over one embarrassing moment on your life, what would it be?

That would be the time I tore my uniform pants in elementary school. It was a track and field day and of course there was a lot of running and jumping involved. I came in first for many of the events and was feeling pretty good about myself. But after the long jump event my friends starting laughing at me, and I turned and realized I had split my pants. My boxers were in full view of everyone! It was embarrassing to say the least.

Favorite movie?

Well, you know it has to be a comic book movie, so I’ll go with The Dark Knight. It’s able to tell a compelling story using interweaving subplot devices. It’s actually more than a movie; it’s an analysis of the criminal element, and juggles concepts like order/chaos, justice/injustice. It’s very ambitious and entertaining film.

Dream role?

Hmm I would like to do more drama and thriller roles. They’re lots of fun, and allow you to portray a different/darker side of characters. Superhero and Supervillain roles would also be on the list.

Favorite musical act?

My go to music is instrumental and my favorite composer is Hans Zimmer. He’s the composer for many terrific films, including Man-of-Steel, and The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar, Gladiator, and many more. His usage of drums is bombastic and immersive.

Favorite book?

My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, but it’s a great read that takes the reader on a journey. It offers insight on what ones life purpose should be, and has an awesome twist. Everyone should read it at least once.

Most unique or surprising thing people don’t know about you?

People are always surprised that I’m fluent in Spanish, that I have the natural ability to wiggle my ears, and that I obtained Ryerson’s University President’s Entrance Scholarship, which is a “full-ride.” I’m pursuing a double major in Philosophy and Film studies.

What are you working on next?

Be on the lookout for three episodes I wrote for Dino Dana Including: Growing Up Dino, Dinosauroid Dana, and Flying Expectations. I have many other projects in the works, but unfortunately I’m not able to share the details as yet. Stay tuned!

Where can your fans follow you?

They can follow me on many social media sites:
Instagram: @jadiel_dowlin
Twitter: @jadieldowlin
Facebook: @jadieldowlin

Selfie time!

Sleep Easy: What College Admission Officers Won’t Tell You

According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, private colleges and universities are trending toward raising their tuition “discount” rates despite annual increases of the “sticker price” of attendance. Did you know the average private college’s discount rate reached 48% in 2014?

This tuition “discount” rate makes the enrollment process more akin to shopping for a mattress than
choosing a higher learning institution. This steep discount is offered by using institutional grants that largely come from tuition revenue. Does the old saying about “robbing Peter to pay Paul” apply? Let’s take a closer look at the current process of “shopping” for a private school.

A tale of three mattresses

Buyer #1, an undergraduate applicant in Chanel couture clothing, walks into UberSleep (private college) to buy the perfect mattress (education). The salesman (admission officer) shows the buyer the Hypnos Luxury Mattress with the inflated sticker price of $15,000. The buyer immediately buys the Hypnos because she can afford it and believes the mattress is worth it. Her inner monologue: “I’m spending almost half my life in bed, and this mattress is an investment.”

Buyer #2 walks into UberSleep to buy the perfect mattress wearing clothes she purchased on a discount rack at Marshall’s. She sees the sticker price of the Hypnos and walks out, resolving just to buy a good mattress from Target for a fraction of the cost. In education, she may settle for a less competitive college than she might be able to attend, just because no one has explained to her the way this game gets played.

Buyer #3 walks into UberSleep and falls in love with the Hypnos, but he can’t afford it. He advocates for why he is the perfect customer and convinces the UberSleep salesman to offer a 48% discount. He positions himself as a future advocate for the store, as someone likely to bring more money in the future as the result of the excellent restful nights he’s experienced. The mattress, although still expensive, is sold.

Spike and discount

How is this possible? The mattress salesman can offer the cut because the sticker price of the mattress is inflated in the first place (not to be confused with an inflatable mattress). The first buyer paying the full price allowed enough revenue to offset Buyer #3’s attendance at zero profit.

This “spike and discount” trend has been a staple of the private institution enrollment process and has been increasing since 2008. And it doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon.
Here’s why this should make you mad: it’s a form of lying. It unfairly requires students and parents to play a game as if they’re haggling at a street fair when the future is at stake.

Know your options

The problem for countless potential undergraduate applicants is that they resemble Buyer #2. Many highly qualified high school seniors are deterred from applying to private schools where they would thrive and find academic fulfillment because the “sticker price” of enrollment seems unmanageable. They either cannot afford or simply won’t pay the hefty premium of an “elite” education. They don’t want to risk a potential rejection letter from a dream school because of their inability to pay the tuition in full.

My advice: DO NOT BE BUYER #2! If your dream school is a private university, apply. If your second choice is a private university: apply. If your safety school is private . . . you guessed it: apply! Like any good “salesman,” these enrollment officers need their bottom line. Enrollment and revenue are down for many private colleges, so you’d be surprised how many seemingly unattainable schools are willing to work with you.

The cult of prestige

So many of the elite institutions need to keep enrollment numbers up so they can maintain their ranking and prestige. These numbers partially rely upon the quality of academic achievement within their student body and how many admitted students become freshmen at their institution. Yes, the “sticker price” of a private school is exorbitant, but now you know the tricks of their tuition trade.

As millions of private school college freshman can attest, requiring assistance for your education does not necessarily influence your chances of admittance. These schools are spiking their sticker tuition so that they can offer discounts in the form of grants to excellent applicants who cannot afford to enroll. Yes, private institutions need tuition revenue, but they also need an academically competitive and well-rounded student body to keep their ranking. If you are within the target range of admittance for a school that you believe you would like to attend, don’t let the advertised tuition deter you from getting to attend your dream school.

Aside from scholarships and institutional aid offered through a specific institution, there are many opportunities to obtain additional aid. You can apply for a federal or state grant (“need-based aid” does not need to be repaid); a federal or state scholarship (“merit-based aid” also does not need to be repaid); or a federal or state loan.

As we head into college application season, please keep in mind that the “ticket price” is not where you want to focus. Building your future is not about money, it’s about fit. I trust you’re a more informed consumer—please join me on my website for more insider information to help you on your way to college admission.

Happy shopping!

Pamela Donnelley is a 20-year educator and the founder of GATE College System; co-developed by 26 Ivy League educators that’s committed to increasing equitable access to higher education and improved post-graduation outcomes for underprivileged 9th-12th grad students across the country. GATE is partnering with public high schools nationwide to provide its platform gratis to 50% of disadvantaged, at risk and first generation students, and in partnership with nonprofit has been embraced by 34 high schools in 7 states this spring, with major districts now lining up for pro bono access for its disadvantaged student population.