October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and in addition to traveling to Las Vegas to cover Carly Rae Jepsen at #UniteLIVE Concert to Rock Out Bullying, we also decided to feature an inspiring up-and-coming actress and model who is also a major activist against bullying and a role model for kids.
Hayley Gripp not only overcame intense bullying in school due to her Tourette’s Syndrome, but has taken those experiences and turned them into something positive by teaching others how to deal with the same problems in a positive way.
Here’s a few words from Hayley!:
1. Explain the advocacy-anti-bullying work that you do.
I work very closely with two organizations. The Tourette Syndrome Association, and The No Bull Challenge. I go around to schools that are having problems with bullies and tell them my story of overcoming being bullied as well as educate them on how to prevent it. I often write articles on bullying for magazines and blogs and I also mentor kids with self esteem issues.
2. What has been the most rewarding thing about what you have done as advocate so far?
After giving a speech at a school and having kids come up and saying either “I had no idea I was being a bully” or “Wow hearing your story gives me hope things will get better for me”. Nothing beats knowing you impacted their lives.
3. Tell us about your personal struggle with Tourette’s Syndrome?
I was diagnosed at age ten and had horrid tics. I would do everything from barking, coughing, flicking, yelling. It was really bad, and while having all these tics, it made it hard to focus in school as well.
4. How did you overcome it?
I was bullied so badly for my tics I taught myself reverse psychology to better manage the tics. It is basically replacing a bad tic with a more socially acceptable and less demanding tic. For instance, If I were to have a tic and hop on my leg, every time I had the urge to hop I would tap my foot instead. After years of training myself with this method, I was tic free at age 16.
5. Were you bullied because of it?
I can honestly say although the tics were horrible, the bullying was much worse. In Junior high kids avoided me like the plague and my teacher even bullied me for having Tourette’s. Kids can come up with the most awful things to say.
6. What mistakes did you make in regards to dealing with bullies that you think others can learn from?
I think a lot of the time I used to fight back but I have learned if you say something mean back to a bully, kids can twist it and you can become the mean girl. The best solution to dealing with a bully is to either walk away and tell a teacher, or to kill them with kindness. A bully will be speechless and not have a comeback to something nice.
7. Tell us about your upcoming film project.
My upcoming docu-film is called “It Only Gets Better”. It is to promote anti-bullying in a 100% positive way. When someone is being bullied badly, many times they will say “It can’t get worse than this” so the title is a positive way of saying that. It is multiple stories intertwined into one story. It is a movie with enough reality to feel like a documentary. Hopefully we will start production in January 2014
8. Tell us about your showbiz experience and aspirations.
I started a successful print modeling career about 18 months ago and in February of this year decided to go back to my passion, acting. I have done three commercials, two tv shows, two feature films and in November I will be a presenter at the IMEA awards show in Ashland KY
9. Anything else we should know?
MY official quote is: “I would rather be known in Hollywood as the overly nice actress, than Hollywood’s next mean girl”