Celebrity Spotlight: Find Out More About The Stunning Jewel

By Allison Kugel

The first thing I noticed when I sat down with Jewel was her beautifully sculpted cheekbones and trademark smile, but I was instantly redirected toward her glow; a warm and welcoming glow emanating from that same place where, no doubt, her poetic music, and lyrics originate. I wanted to learn more. It hasn’t been easy for Jewel, the daughter of a single father who experienced post-Vietnam PTSD and self-medicated with alcohol. The impoverished father/daughter duo, knocked around bars in Jewel’s home state of Alaska, crooning to just barely pay the bills. On her own by age of fifteen, to escape an abusive home environment, the multiplatinum, multi-award-winning artist poured her pain, anxiety, depression, and confusion into some of the most lyrically potent and widely listened to music of the past two and a half decades. She became a music icon in the process.

Discovered in a Southern California coffee house with little more than her guitar, Jewel would go on to sell more than thirty million albums, and it all started with her breakout 1995 album, Pieces of You, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Hits like Standing Still, Hands, Who Will Save Your Soul, You Were Meant for Me, and Intuition, reflect Jewel’s evolutionary inward journey and continue to resonate, worldwide, throughout our human culture. It’s no wonder The Voice producer, Mark Burnett, calls Jewel “One of the greatest singer-songwriters in history.”

Now, the forty-seven-year-old mother of one has devoted much of her public platform to mental health advocacy and what she gleefully calls her ongoing practice of “being consciously present” with her experiences. Jewel’s Never Broken (an nod to her hit song, Hands and her New York Times bestselling memoir) movement offers free mindfulness and mental health resources and what she calls “actionable exercises,” while her second annual World Mental Health Day Summit and Concert, took place, virtually, on Sunday, October 10th at TheWellness-Experience.com.

Jewel’s anticipated upcoming album Freewheelin’ Woman, which reflects her personal and musical evolution of “being on this side of life,” as she lovingly calls her current chapter, will be released in Spring 2022.

Allison Kugel: Tell me about your name Jewel. Is there a story behind your first name?

Jewel: It’s a family name. My grandfather’s name was Jasper Jade Jewel Caroll, my mother’s name was Lenedra Jewel Caroll, and my other grandfather was Yule. The feminine pronunciation of that name was Jewel. It kind of came from both sides.

Allison Kugel: Interesting. Tell me about the three most significant events in your life that shaped who you are today.

Jewel. I don’t really think that way, but the interesting thing I find about healing is that our stories can’t change. We can’t go back and change our history, but we can change how we relate to the story. We can change which features we make salient and important to us, and we can change which memories we draw on. A good example would be, growing up as a child I didn’t think I was lovable because my parents didn’t seem to love me or care for me. So, if you had asked me that question many years ago, I would have said a big part of my story was that I felt unlovable. Through time, and through healing, you start to realize it’s not that I was unlovable and it’s not even that my parents didn’t love me. It’s that my parents didn’t know how to love.  Again, it’s not how your story changes, but how you relate to the story that changes. Realizing that my parents didn’t know how to love builds empathy. It builds a different sense of self-worth because it’s not suddenly about me, or from an ego perspective, about my lack of ability to be loved or lovable, and it allows room for a different narrative.

Allison Kugel: At what age did you come to that conclusion?

Jewel: I’ve been studying for the last couple of years, sort of a system of misunderstandings, and realizing that a lot of conclusions we draw about ourselves are based on a misunderstanding.   It’s about looking through it through fresh eyes and saying, “Is that true?” and challenging that truth. It’s kind of a process I’ve always been interested in but looking at it in terms of misunderstandings and updating misunderstandings has probably been more in the last couple of years.

Allison Kugel: For me, personally, I always say that my parents raised me the best way they knew how, and then when I became an adult, I re-raised myself. Does that resonate with you?

Jewel: Yes. I remember at some point thinking wouldn’t it be embarrassing if I spent my whole adulthood getting over my childhood (laugh). At some point, how do you start to transcend your story? You do have to heal and reclaim a lot of that narrative, and then you get to start saying, “Now, what do I want to do with it?” In my book (New York Times bestseller, Never Broken/Penguin Random House), I called it “an archeological dig back to my true self.” My life had a lot of drama and a lot of trauma. My mom left when I was eight. My dad was a Vietnam veteran who was trauma-triggered.  He was abusive and an alcoholic. I moved out at [the age of] 15 and was paying rent. I was homeless by 18, because I wouldn’t have sex with my boss. I was living in my car and then my car got stolen. So, I knew, statistically, kids like me ended up repeating the cycle, and I didn’t want to be a statistic. But if your nurture was really bad, how do you get to know your nature? That is what I’ve spent my life dedicated to, is figuring out what causes happiness? Happiness is a side effect of choices. Our choices are usually stimulated by misunderstandings. We have to examine those and rework them so we can go where we want in life.

Allison Kugel: Did you do that with the help of a therapist, or was it mainly self-work? 

Jewel: It was an internal process for me. [At the time] I didn’t have access to therapists. When I moved out at 15, I started having panic attacks and didn’t know what they were. I also started getting really sick and I thought it was stress related, so I started studying food as medicine.  I started having so many panic attacks, that I was able to experiment while I was having them to see what things worked. And then it was really when I was homeless that I hit a whole new level of being able to understand a lot of my behaviors. I was shop lifting a dress and I looked in the mirror and saw what I looked like, and I looked like a statistic. I hadn’t beat the odds. I turned into a homeless kid who was stealing and going to end up in jail or on drugs. I remembered this quote by Buddha that said, “Happiness doesn’t depend on who you are or what you have. It depends on what you think.” I wanted to see if I could change my life one thought at a time.  But I couldn’t perceive what I was thinking in real time, because I was so disassociated, and I couldn’t witness my thoughts happening. So, I decided to come up with this hack where I realized your hands are the servants of your thoughts. If you want to see what you’re thinking, just watch what you’re doing. It’s your thought cooled down, slowed down into action. My big life plan in that moment was to not steal the dress, and to write down everything my hands did for two weeks, I think. I didn’t know what I was looking for.

Allison Kugel: What your hands were doing… explain that.

Jewel: I opened a door, I shut a door. I washed my hands. I wouldn’t shake somebody’s hand. I stole vegetables. Whatever it was, I was looking for a pattern to clue me in about what I was thinking?  At the end of the two weeks, I sat down and looked at everything and the pattern definitely showed I quit believing in myself. The much more interesting thing was that my anxiety went away. I didn’t have a panic attack for the whole two weeks. What I had stumbled onto was mindfulness and being present. The word “mindfulness” wasn’t around at that time. It was just through my journaling and going inward that I realized fear is a thief and it robs us of any chance we have to change. My anxiety was me taking my past and projecting it onto my future that hadn’t happened yet.

Allison Kugel: Tell me how your music connects to all of this. Your lyrics can stand alone as poetry. When you were writing many of your songs that went on to become huge hits, did you first write them as poems?

Jewel: My songs came together with lyrics and melody, but writing poems had been my first skill, and my first love was writing.

Allison Kugel: I can tell.

Jewel: I think writing was me developing that relationship with my observer; with that quiet voice that is so easily drowned out, but that is so wise and sees so much. When you sit down to write, whether you’re going to be a writer or not, you’re giving a pen to your authenticity.   You’re giving your authenticity a way of communicating to you. It is your soul trying to communicate with you. Poetry, especially so, because it leaves enough room, and it is symbolic.

Allison Kugel: Let’s talk about your upcoming World Mental Health Day Summit and Concert.  This is the second annual event of its kind. How did it come together? And how can people get involved and attend?

Jewel: As I mentioned to you, moving out at 15 and having this daunting feeling of, “Oh my gosh! If happiness wasn’t taught in my home, is it a learnable skill? Is it a teachable skill?” Then realizing everything that I needed to learn to be a happy and whole human, and not a human full of holes (laughs).

Allison Kugel: (Laugh) I like that!

Jewel: It was an education that I originally lacked, and I wasn’t taught it in school. It had to be this 360-degree thing this very three-dimensional thing. I had to learn about food as medicine. I had to learn about my mind affecting my body. I had to learn that my thoughts can create a dilated or contracted state which then creates physiological reactions, biochemical reactions, vascular reactions, as well as learning things like relationship fitness. I wasn’t raised thinking relationships were great, and, growing up, relationships in my life were never nurturing. I needed to gain a whole new education in all kinds of things. When I became famous, the thing I used my name for was not getting a table at a restaurant, it was to find the best experts. It took a lot of time and a lot of digging to find those special people that looked at their craft from this very holistic standpoint, and to curate that information. This wellness festival is like a culmination of a lifetime of learning and gathering for myself and wanting to democratize that wellness. This will be our second time doing this event on World Mental Health Day.

Allison Kugel: Is there a website people can visit to find out about the event and attend. And can people attend virtually? 

Jewel: Yes, it is all virtual, actually and it’s free to attend at www.thewellness-experience.com. The event is eight hours with famous fitness trainers from yoga and other [modalities], there will be talks with musicians, clinics on anxiety, all kinds of stuff.

Allison Kugel: You and I have this in common because I had also struggled with anxiety and panic attacks from the time I was eight years old. My feeling is that you don’t get “cured,” but, rather, you heal from it. What do you think? 

Jewel: In my book (Never Broken/Penguin Random House) I write about a really difficult thing that happened with my mom in my thirties, and it really set me back. I was thinking about how to heal again while I was in my thirties, and I had this sort of flash or inspiration come to me, that we are not actually broken.   No matter what trauma we suffer, I always came at it like I had to fix myself as if I was broken.  That is a really daunting and really depressing way to go about it. I realized that a soul is not a teacup. It can’t be broken. It exists perfectly and whole. A lot of the exercises I developed during that time in my life, that are available on www.jewelneverbroken.com, are the little exercises I used to help distinguish the self and the other. And, yes, it is something you heal from. Anxiety does not have the grip it used to have over me. I hadn’t had an anxiety attack in probably twenty years. But interestingly, a couple of weeks ago I was totally triggered and had a panic attack. It was fascinating.

Allison Kugel: It is an empowering perspective to, instead of being scared by it, to become curious about it.

Jewel: I had the skills to care for myself, and in retrospect realize what triggered me.  It was really fascinating what triggered me and I learned a lot. I don’t live in fear that I’m going to keep having panic attacks. The money that we are going to try and raise from this wellness experience all goes to my foundation where we teach these skills to kids that don’t have access to therapy and traditional support groups. Resiliency is just a fancy word for having multiple tools to handle life as it happens.  If this tool doesn’t work, try this one. If that tool doesn’t work, try that one.

Allison Kugel: You and I both have sons. Your son is ten and mine is twelve. I feel like we are pioneers in that we are both raising young men who will eventually be grown men, and we want them to be more in touch with their emotions, and how they relate to their emotions, than previous generations of men. How do you speak to your son about his emotions and how he identifies with them? 

Jewel: My son is a very emotional child. He is very creative. Something I’ve really been working on with my son is differentiating between a genuine emotion and a reaction.

Allison Kugel: Good one.

Jewel: If you look at things generationally, if you have really strict parents that child will grow up and be really lenient. Uber religious parents sometimes will cause the opposite reaction and the child will become the exact opposite.

Allison Kugel: Over correction, yes.

Jewel: But it’s the same. It’s just a different side of the same coin. Looking at emotionality and how we raise boys, for me it has been going back and really studying masculinity among indigenous cultures; the rites of passage from a male perspective, and not putting my female perspective on it. But instead, learning about masculinity in an indigenous way as well as realizing I would have a tendency to want to over empower my child’s feelings. Learning that you can’t use your feelings as a tactic is really important for a child, especially for a child that has a mom that’s like, “I care about your feelings (laughs),” which I do. But right now, the world isn’t having a lot of authentic feelings, it’s having a lot of reactions. It’s using volatile and highly emotionally charged reactions to bully people into behavior. That’s the role type of being woke now. I find that really interesting, and something I’m thinking about right now with my son is, “How do I implement him learning to self-assess because we don’t want to have a reaction.   We want to have a thoughtful and centered response. That’s powerful. That where you’re in your body and in your heart, and you’re forming a response. That’s focused and intentional, versus just a reaction that is highly emotional. It’s a little nuance, but I think it really matters.

Allison Kugel: Can great art be born out of joy and contentment, or do you feel that art is always the byproduct of trauma, pain, and processing pain?

Jewel: Both things are true, and so what do you want your life to be? I know a lot of artists that are stuck on a treadmill of self-imposed hatred, self-hatred, self-flagellation, because they believe it’s the only way, they can make art.  Or I have friends that just stay high, and they only can write when they’re high. Whatever you believe is true. I personally believe art is much bigger than that. Art is just the mirror of life. A mirror doesn’t stop being a mirror because you’re happy (laugh). It’s a mirror all the time.  It’s there to capture the imprint of all life and there is great beauty. There are poems that celebrate sheer joy and ecstatic ecstasy. I definitely would recommend any artist to take themselves off the cross upon which they have nailed themselves, because your art can still be really potent and engaging and healing through beauty as well.

Allison Kugel: Good point. Do you pray, and if so, who or what do you pray to?

Jewel: I do pray. I think prayer is as real an element as fire, water or wind.  I don’t have a religious denomination, so I was raised with a lot of Native American culture and influence, and so my culture and my prayers tend to lean more toward that.

Allison Kugel: You grew up in the Alaskan wilderness with very little. As a teen you were homeless and had nothing, and then suddenly you had a lot. How did you acclimate and what is your relationship with material luxuries today?

Jewel: I was lucky to be raised in Alaska with a lot of nature; big, wild, raw country. That was my church. I’m a really experience-based person and I wasn’t raised that way, nor did my personality ever feel hungry for material things in that way. My mom, however, if you read my book (Never Broken), she was very motivated by those things, and those things were very important to her. Money helps. Anybody that says money doesn’t help is full of it. It definitely cannot make you happy, which is why there are so many suicidal rich people, just like there are suicidal poor people, but it can remove a lot of stress. Having money for medical care, for airplane tickets, for food; those things have been such a relief in my life. It has been beyond a blessing. But other than that, I’m just not too motivated that way.

Allison Kugel: What makes you perfectly imperfect?

Jewel: Life is about growth. When you enjoy growth, it means you really have to love your mistakes.  I pray every day for the eyes to see how I can grow. That means every day I’m going to see things that I’m not great at. Perfection is really an addiction that we cling to, and we usually get addicted to it quite young, and it’s a system of deserving. When you are in a system of deserving, you become obsessed with performance so that you can earn your way into love. A lot of us are stuck on this hamster wheel of, “If I perform better, if I’m more extraordinary, I will earn my own respect and I will earn the respect of those around me, and earn my way back into heaven, as it were.” Perfection doesn’t exist, and so we’re constantly setting ourselves up for failure and pain. And God forbid you make money doing it, you know (laugh)? God forbid you become a high performing person who has been motivated by perfection and then rewarded for it. Because it’s a reckoning we all have to come to terms with, the fact that nature isn’t perfect, it’s in harmony.

Allison Kugel: What remains on your bucket list?

Jewel: I was lucky to be a person that felt very engaged in my music that was a real passion and purpose.   I knew that I was here to help people and my music helped me do that.   I thought that if I served my purpose, I would just be fine and I would be taken care of, and it almost killed me.  I just wore myself out because I kept thinking well if I’m serving a good purpose, I’ll be healthy.  It isn’t actually how that works so I really exhausted myself and wore myself out and worked probably three hundred times harder than I needed to because I didn’t know how to do less at the time.

Allison Kugel:  Do you mean like recording, touring, appearances? 

Jewel:  Yes, I was doing 1,000 shows a year.  I was doing five and six shows a day.

Allison Kugel:  Were you ever at home? 

Jewel:  No not for decades (laugh).  It was in service of my purpose, and I was like that is noble so somehow, I don’t know I thought God owed me health.   I have no idea what I was thinking (laugh).  I didn’t even realize it was a thought and so for me as I re-engage and I have a new record and new book coming out, it has been a privilege to get to redo this in a whole new mindset.   Not because I have a chip on my shoulder, not because I have to be a slave to my purpose, but because I want to see what I’m capable of when I’m rested and engaging in something in a much healthier way.  My native uncles taught me a really beautiful definition of power and it is an act of power benefits both yourself and the community.

Allison Kugel: Tell me about the new music.

Jewel: I have a new album called Freewheeling Woman coming out. This was the first record I’ve written from scratch. Even with my first album I had 100’s of songs already written by the age of eighteen, so I would always just take songs out of my back catalogue, whether it was pop, country, or whatever. I didn’t want to do that for this one even though I have a lot of songs in my back catalog that I love. I wanted this new album to be written from the ground up and reflect who I am now. I think I was forty-five when I was writing it and it was hard! I see now why middle-aged artists do a lot of drugs (laugh).

Allison Kugel: Oh man (laughs).

Jewel: They do it to bypass the work that it takes to get past the domestic architecture that had gotten into me, and to find a new, honest, raw, but different new place creatively. I think I wrote two hundred songs for this album to get the 12 or 14 that I like.  It has a more soul feel.   Kind of like a Muscles Shoals soul feel.  I’m singing very differently than I’ve sung. Singing a lot better than I’ve ever sung and its sort of a celebration.   I’m 47 now but it feels fun to be just like on my side of life. I enjoy it (Laugh)

Allison Kugel: Did you ever at a time in your career feel that you ever needed to use substances to reach like that higher level of creativity?  

Jewel: I never felt that was something I needed to do. I was raised in bars watching people drink and do drugs until they died so I never drank or did drugs.

Allison Kugel: Last year was the 25th anniversary of “Pieces of You” that is a milestone.  How did you celebrate?

Jewel: I did a show here where I live in this little theatre.   It was during quarantine and I did it live.  Which was really fun for me to be home, be with my son.  I love doing visual art, so I did this huge 40-foot backdrop drew it, and painted it.   Sang the whole album top to bottom which was so fun.   I had never done that.

Allison Kugel: What do you think you came into this life as Jewel Kilcher to learn, and what do you think you came here to teach?

Jewel: I think that a lot of us feel this huge obligation to see why we’re here. Something I learned from my Native American uncles is that the purpose of your life is to be happy. It is your birthright to be happy, and if you are not happy, you need to do something about it. Nobody owes you happiness.  The obsession with meaning; meaning is a side effect of experience.  It’s like the teaching of Buddha, looking at the flower. Flowers don’t go around going, “What is my meaning?” They exist, and existing gives meaning. Ask yourself, “Am I happy? Am I doing things that make me happy?” I think one thing would be to start reframing it and coming back to meaning as a side effect of experience. What is your experience? Are you happy?  Great! If you’re not, what would you be willing to change? And are you willing to be accountable for that?

Allison Kugel: Would you ever do a Las Vegas residency? 

Jewel: I don’t know. If I thought of the right thing to do or the right show. I did a Cirque du Soleil show about my life, as a charity thing, which was really fun, and I thought about doing it as a regular thing, but it’s a lot of work!

Allison Kugel: If you could travel back in time and change or witness any famous historical event, where would go, and what would you attempt to change or bear witness to?

Jewel: When I was young, I was very obsessed with philosophy and the dialectic, and I was very influenced by Socrates. I realized I could think, and I didn’t know that before. I was a dyslexic, really poor kid and so the power of learning through questioning something, and the knowing that two people coming together can create something that could be known by a third person was powerful for me. When I realized I could do that to myself, where I realized I could ask myself a question and I would hear an answer that I didn’t even know I knew, that got really exciting to me. I became obsessed with that era, although it wouldn’t have been good to be a woman back than (laugh). Other than that, I’ve never really given much thought to what time period I would go back to in history, because what if, for me, that moment is now?

Allison Kugel: One day, when a movie is made about your life, what is something you hope and pray they get right? 

Jewel: Something I’ve been surprised about in my own life is that what I thought were my talents didn’t actually help me in my life. The talent that really helped me was my persistence. That’s not a real sexy word. It’s not a word most people aspire to, but when I look back, just not quitting ended up being my best talent. Whenever I was faced with a challenge, just being willing to stand up and be willing to do something different today than I did yesterday and standing up again and trying something different today than I did yesterday. Again, it’s not a very sexy thing, but it’s why I have the life that I have. It’s the quality and the trait that led me to where I am. Everything else was sort of a dressing around it.

Allison Kugel: I think that is a great answer. You want to be remembered for your persistence and your ability to constantly learn and try a new way of doing things until you reach that apex of where you want to be. 

Jewel: I think that whether it’s music or healing, people don’t get to see behind the curtain very much. It’s not pretty work. You don’t just arrive.  It’s kind of a gritty process to get great at writing, to get great at singing, to get healthier, and to get happier. I wish that people celebrated grit and not quitting. If you’re in it and you’re slogging it out, you’re doing it. That is the guarantee that you’ll get to the top, because the only guarantee of getting to the top of the mountain is one unbeautiful step at a time.

Shop the 25th anniversary deluxe edition of Jewel’s 1995 album, Pieces of You. Join Jewel’s mental health community at JewelNeverBroken.com. Follow Jewel on Instagram @Jewel.

Hear the extended interview with Jewel on the Allison Interviews Podcast. Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment journalist and host of the Allison Interviews podcast. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube. Follow on Instagram @theallisonkugel.

Announcing The Official Launch of Mrs. Universe Official!

The Mrs. Universe Official Pageant is the quest to discover the world’s most outstanding married woman who’s looking to make a difference and make her mark in the world. Contestants must be married as of the date of entry, at least 18 years of age, as well as a resident of the country in which they compete. 

The Mrs. Universe Official Pageant also aims to bridge the gap between fashion, modeling, and pageantry. Its aim is to set a new standard in fashion, modeling, and pageantry. This is a life-changing opportunity for married women with a unique look and poise, lively personality, and passion for pageantry, fashion, and modeling. This is a competition that is designed to give ambitious women the opportunity to be a part of the national and international fashion modeling industry.   

Mrs. Universe Official is dedicated to women’s empowerment on a global scale. The Mrs. Universe Official organization is committed to helping women find their voice so that they can become powerful and unstoppable. The pageant believes that all women have a “Fierce Woman” inside them, and its mission is to create a vehicle that can reach inside and free their inner fierceness. Its mission is to empower women, facilitate change, and tap into their inner power.

The pageant will highlight and bring to light women with substance. The Mrs. Universe Official team’s focus for its contestants is to enhance women’s inner and outer beauty while they gain self-confidence and boldness within themselves; thus, the Mrs. Universe Official Beauty Pageant 2022 slogan is ” Powerful. Unstoppable. Fiercely beautiful.”

Mrs. Universe Official is the brainchild of Maryrose Salubre who founded Salubre Models back in 2006. Maryrose’s journey from initially establishing Salubre Models in 2006 led to a number of high-profile projects such as the Australasia Official pageant which was established in 2014, the International Golden Sash Awards, Sydney’s Best Dressed, and ultimately, Mrs. Universe Official.

Mrs. Universe Official also aims to empower, engage and inspire women of all cultures and backgrounds. The pageant’s goal is to build their self-confidence to the point that they become global ambassadors whose goal is to inspire change in the world. These women are game changers, go-getters, and highly driven individuals who don’t just talk about changing the world and making a difference but are motivated enough to initiate action.

The pageant week will be a fabulous week full of all things glitz and glam made up of live runway shows, presentations on relevant issues, and of course, exclusive, invite-only parties. The finalists from all over the world will be physically and mentally trained. They will be challenged with high fashion photoshoots, glamorous runway shows, and speeches on their advocacy.

In October of 2022, The Mrs. Universe Official Beauty Pageant will showcase more than 50 finalists from all over the world, as the pageant crowns its first-ever ” Mrs. Universe Official.” The finalists will compete at the prestigious “Coronation Night” in “The Emerald City” of Australia.  

Celebrity Spotlight: Find Out More About The Beautiful Tara Reid

By: Allison Kugel

Tara Reid burst onto the scene as the flawless blue-eyed babe of the iconic 1999 camp comedy American Pie, a Fast Times at Ridgemont High for twenty-something Gen-Xers and precocious Millennials. Her flawless all-American looks led to films from cult favorite The Big Lebowski, to Urban Legend, Van Wilder, Josie and the Pussycats, Dr. T & the Women, and My Boss’s Daughter. She starred and held her own alongside Ryan Reynolds, Ashton Kutcher, Rosario Dawson, Kate Hudson, Richard Gere, and other movie heavyweights.

And then, something happened. Reid was young, stunning, and famous; and the media began taking more of an interest in her after-hours role as Hollywood’s resident party girl; largely ignoring her talent and her work ethic. Unlike most of us, Reid’s young adult days and nights were captured by paparazzi for the world to see. During our interview, she is quick to point out that, at the very least, mercifully, social media had not yet been invented. Thank God for small favors.

A painful public breakup with then-fiancé Carson Daly and a bout with botched plastic surgery further spun Reid’s public narrative out of control. She recently told E! News, “They almost make a cartoon character out of you, and they keep going with it,” referring to the rampant tabloid journalism of the 2000s.

The experience sent Reid reeling, and into a self-imposed media exile where she learned to reflect, regroup, and re-emerge focused on her craft, and with a healthy sense of humor as she displays in her willingness to embrace the camp genre with the Sharknado film series. In addition to working in front of the camera, she’s added film producer to her resume, with an upcoming slate of releases under her production banner, Hi Happy Films.

As women in our forties, Tara Reid and I discuss the power of knowing oneself and becoming unflappable in the face of life’s inevitable ebbs and flows. Smart, soulful, and creative, Tara Reid has reclaimed her power and found her most valuable commodity: peace of mind.

Allison Kugel: You were just working on a film with DMX before he passed.

Tara Reid: Yeah, a movie called Doggmen. It’s his last film and it was really interesting because he didn’t get to finish the whole film. They had to do what they did with Paul Walker (in his last Fast & Furious role). They make these facial sculptures and they put it on a face, and it looks exactly like [DMX]. It’s crazy.

Allison Kugel: Like CGI? 

Tara Reid: No, it’s literally a face they make and put on. The last couple of scenes that he has to film, that will be what they are doing.  It’s incredible and it looks so real. It looks just like him.  So, that is how they are going to film his last scenes, and I’ll be in those scenes with him.

Allison Kugel: What is that going to feel like for you, to do that?

Tara Reid: I think everyone was absolutely broken by DMX’s [death].  He wasn’t just a great rapper, but he was a poet. I think he was one of the best rappers of our time, and this movie explains that. The last person that really did that was Tupac. I think it will be a great film.  He’s a great actor, he’s a voice, and that mattered a lot to him. I think he will be really happy about how this movie comes out and looks. It’s DMX, and just to be a part of that history with him is pretty much incredible.

Allison Kugel: When he was on set, did he seem healthy? Did he seem happy?

Tara Reid: I never saw him on set. The movie started before I started working. I was due [on set]at the end of the movie. Then, unfortunately, that is when he passed. I actually never got to do the real scenes with him.

Allison Kugel: Oh man!

Tara Reid: I’m in the other scenes with the “not real” version of DMX.  It’s going to be really interesting, and we are shooting that down in Florida.

Allison Kugel: Oh, wow. I’ll definitely look forward to seeing how they manage to do that when it comes out?

Tara Reid: I’ll let you come down to the set and you can see how they do it.

Allison Kugel: What three events in your life, if you had to narrow it down to three, shaped who you are today?

Tara Reid: Wow, that is a great question! Well, I guess one of them would be my parents making me, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here, so congratulations on that one (laughs)!  I think another one would be feeling the force of getting into Hollywood, which is the hardest thing to do, becoming a working actor.

Allison Kugel: What do you mean by “the force?” 

Tara Reid: It’s so hard to make it in Hollywood to begin with. It’s like winning a lottery ticket. To be lucky and fortunate enough to get there was incredible, and then seeing the aftereffects, and everything like that. The third and most painful one was having my parents pass away. That gave me a whole different look on everything.

Allison Kugel: Did it make you think about where they went when they passed? When my grandfather passed away when I was 32, the question that kept going through my mind was, “Where is he?” It started me on this journey of looking into life after death. Did you go through anything like that?

Tara Reid: I would talk about that with my sister, about where we go after this. Honestly, the hardest part, you’re going to make me cry now…

Allison Kugel: No, no, no…

Tara Reid: It’s okay. The hardest part is not being able to call your parents up and ask, “Hey, how do I make this lasagna?” or “How do I make this or that?” They were such good cooks. There are so many things I wish they wrote down, like their recipes, or even just to call them on the phone. I feel like I see signs a lot. I definitely feel their energy around me, and it’s healing for me.

Allison Kugel: What was your biggest take away from 2020? 

Tara Reid: COVID was something that, obviously, we never expected, like the Black Plague.

Allison Kugel:  Yes, in our lifetime…

Tara Reid: Never. From everyone staying home and not being able to go out or travel, to movies being cancelled, and even people being afraid of other people. A lot of fear was going on. But when I was in my house, I said, “You know what?  I’m going to be proactive. I’m not going to sit here and just wait for COVID to come over, or for my industry to come back.” I started developing and producing projects for myself. We (Tara’s production company, Hi Happy Films) got in touch with a lot of amazing and creative people and got to put a lot of different projects together, from comedy to drama. We’ve got a pretty good slate coming up.

Allison Kugel: What do you have coming up?

Tara Reid: We are doing this one movie called Masha’s Mushroom (starring Reid, Vivica A. Fox, Beverly D’Angelo). The director, White Cross, she’s also my partner on that particular film, and she is absolutely brilliant. We got connected with such valuable people from financing to distribution, and I learned aspects of the business that I never knew before. I realized how hard it is to make a film come together and it gave me a completely different appreciation for the film business as a whole.

Allison Kugel: You’re also working on a vegan handbag line…

Tara Reid: I can’t say too much about it just yet, but it’s being done with a great handbag maker named Michael Kuluva.  As far as the handbags, I can tell you they are not made of pleather, and it might be made out of vegetables and fruit, believe it or not. I know it sounds crazy. You would be shocked at how it’s made. Then, during this whole process, my boyfriend and I went down to Sedona, Arizona. My father told me, before he died, that he went there with his brother and it is very healing; it’s where the vortex (swirling centers of healing energy, where the earth is said to be “most alive”) is, and it’s very hippie and spiritual.  We were supposed to stay four days and we wound up staying for four weeks.

Allison Kugel: And that helped set the vibe for the bag designs

Tara Reid: You get it. The process is pretty incredible, and it’s not just us that’s doing it. I think Hermès is coming out with a bag made from mushroom “leather.” We are going to debut our line next year during Fashion Week, and there will be a lot of Arizona-inspired spiritual stuff on the bags.

Allison Kugel: Speaking of that, do you pray? If so, who or what do you pray to? 

Tara Reid: I do pray, and who I pray to depends on what situation I am in. I pray to Jesus, but I also pray to my parents all the time. They are probably my number one. And I pray to my guardian angels; I pray to St. Jude, St. John, or St. Christopher. They have different meanings depending upon what you are in need of. I also listen to tapes by Deepak Chopra which has helped me tremendously. His tapes help you break down, “Who am I close to? Who am I? What do I want? What do I not want?” And you really have to write it out in a diary form. My life started changing. A lot of us don’t know how to direct that positive energy, and I think that he is someone that really knows how to give that to you.

Allison Kugel: I’ve interviewed Deepak Chopra twice, and he was the first person who ever explained to me that there is no such thing as time. I was younger at that time, and I didn’t really get it, so he said, “Well, think about it. If you are in a rush or on a deadline, you feel like you’re running out of time. If you are bored or anxiously awaiting something, time feels like it is taking forever.” Then he said, “Time is really nothing more than the movement of thought.” It makes so much sense to realize that we are trapped in space and time, but you can step out of time and be completely in the moment. It is the most freeing and beautiful feeling there is.

Tara Reid: I agree with you a billion percent. It really is like, “I’m running late for this meeting,” or, “I’m going crazy from this deadline.” Then you’re like, “Wait, I don’t have to get this or do this right now. I can wait half an hour and the world is not going to end.” Time is relevant in a situation like we’re in right now, how we have decided to meet at a certain time. But when it comes to yourself, you can create how you exist in time. When you put out a manifestation and put something great out there, you have to close a lot of doors to open up new ones. That is one of the things that Deepak Chopra teaches. I believe that is what you probably got out of it too.

Allison Kugel: What was your favorite film role, and why? 

Tara Reid: This is actually a really good story. Last night I was with my boyfriend watching TV and as we were going through the channels, HBO came up and my boyfriend says, “Oh My God, this is crazy, you’re on TV.” I looked and it was Josie and The Pussycats. That has always been my favorite movie that I’ve ever done. It was so much fun. Rachael Leigh Cook is amazing.  Rosario Dawson was amazing. We were shooting up in Canada, having fun doing a girl’s movie, and the whole movie was the best experience. I played Melody, and she was always happy, a little bit ditsy, but kind of psychic. It was great waking up every day, playing a happy girl.

Allison Kugel: Have you forgiven the media for the way that they treated you years back, or do you still struggle with that?

Tara Reid: That is a really good question. I didn’t, and I was upset about it when I was younger, but I realized the only way I was going to grow and get out of that situation was to grow as a woman. So therefore, I do forgive them now. I have moved on, and my press has changed. I’m not angry about it anymore. When you finally let something go, it goes. It’s like taking a balloon and putting it up in the air, and it’s gone. I’m 45 years old and I’m not a child anymore. I’m not the little girl from American Pie. A lot of things have changed in my life, and I wouldn’t take back anything, because again, it put me where I’m at right now. I probably would not be talking to you right this second if everything was different. You’re a positive person I feel like you’ve gone through a lot of what I have, and I really feel like I can relate to you. Would you change anything?

Allison Kugel: I would not change anything. I really am at a place of peace in my life right now.  There has been a lot of bumps in the road and twists and turns but I really would not change anything.

Tara Reid: Of course, there are going to be bumps in the road. That’s life. No one ever said it was going to be perfect, but if we didn’t go through these bumps in the road, it would not define us as who we are.

Allison Kugel: I find that my compassion and empathy muscles have grown, exponentially.

Tara Reid: I think COVID really helped a lot of people with that. People had no choice, they had to be inside. So, what do you do?  Call your best friends, call people you haven’t talked to in a while, forgive yourself for a lot of things, talk to yourself a lot, and make sense of some of the things that didn’t make sense. I think that is where you and I are. I am completely comfortable in my own skin right now, and I’m happy with where my life is going.

Allison Kugel: Have any journalists ever apologized to you, whether it was a gossip columnist or tabloid reporter?

Tara Reid: To be honest, not really (laughs).  If that day ever comes, you are going to be the first person I call and say, “Guess who called me to apologize?” (laughs) But no, not yet.

Allison Kugel: Is there a hobby or another profession that you would like to attempt? 

Tara Reid: I think I’m doing that now, expanding beyond being an actress and producing and creating my own films with the roles that I’ve wanted. I also love arts and crafts. I’ve been beading my whole life. And I’m really into rose quartz for love, for example. Every bracelet or piece of jewelry that I make with crystals has a huge meaning behind it.  I’m an artist and I feel like I’m covering a lot of different areas in that, and I’m definitely satisfied with it.

Allison Kugel: What do you think you came into this life as Tara Reid, to learn and what do think you came here to teach? 

Tara Reid: I think I came into this life to teach people to feel good. I think I have a gift. It just seems like everywhere I go, among my friends, if there is something happening in their life, they talk to me, and I talk to them and I get them out of situations. What I’m here to learn is almost the opposite of that. I’ve had to learn to be progressive, humble, and to keep myself open to learning information that I can use to help others and help myself.

Allison Kugel: Were there times in your life when you were not as humble as you could have been, and you look back on it and think, “Man, I should have been a little more humble, down to earth, appreciative,” and all of that?

Tara Reid: Yes, I think when I first got famous, I didn’t really know what fame was.  It is not something that is so easy to get thrown into, and it’s a bit shocking. The beginning of my fame almost scared me, and then I realized how to eventually deal with it. I learned how people are, and that not everyone’s going to love you. Social media can be terrible, and you cannot protect yourself on it. It was a growing process.

Allison Kugel: When you were on that first American Pie set, did all of you have a feeling like, “Wow! This is going to blow up and make us all famous,” or did it just feel like… a job?

Tara Reid: I think I felt like, “Oh, this is just a job.”  Everyone in the cast was so new. The actors were mostly very green. It was the first movie for most of them, so we had a bond that was really close. When it blew up, you know, we still have that bond every time we see each other. The first people that you make it with, that never go away. The movie I was most excited about, but didn’t do well, was Josie and The Pussycats. You never know what is going to work and what is not.

Allison Kugel: If you could travel back in time and alter one historical event, where would you go and what would you attempt to change? 

Tara Reid: I wouldn’t want to change anything, but if I were to go back in time to a historical event that was fun, I would have loved to have been Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to the president [John F. Kennedy] (laugh). It was such a legendary moment.

Allison Kugel: Would you like to become a mom at some point in your life, or are you good as you are?

Tara Reid: Well, I feel like I’m a mom already. I have two dogs that I’m so attached to. I take them everywhere I go. These dogs have probably been to eight different countries! Right now, that is where I’m at. Will I have kids?  Let’s see what is in store for me. It’s not a no, and it’s not a yes. I have gotten my eggs frozen so there is definitely the potential of that. If it is meant to be, it will happen. If not, I’m very comfortable where I’m at

Allison Kugel:  Where do you see yourself in five years if you had to visualize it?

Tara Reid: I definitely see myself being in a place where I’m excited and happy about producing and acting, and maybe married. I have great friends, so just to keep my friends close. I don’t have many friends, just ones that are my favorite and best, and we would do anything for each other.

Allison Kugel: That’s all you need.

Tara Reid: I just see myself going on the road that I’m on right now and feeling content. I have a great boyfriend, I have amazing dogs, good friends. Hopefully we can start traveling a lot again because that is one of my favorite things. I kind of see myself moving along like The Little Engine That Could: I think I can, I think I can.

Photo Credits: Brooke Mason Photography 

Follow Tara Reid on Instagram and Twitter @TaraReid

Allison Kugel is a syndicated entertainment and pop culture columnist and author of the book, Journaling Fame: A memoir of a life unhinged and on the record. Follow on Instagram @theallisonkugel and AllisonKugel.com.

Meet The Beauty Queen Behind The Cover Of The January 2022 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: Kerry-Anne Peterson

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Kerry-Anne Peterson is a Sagittarius-Capricorn beauty queen who’s currently studying Psychology – she plans to attain a Ph.D. in Psychology with a focus on diagnosing and treating mental illness. She also loves animals, and in fact, she has adopted and cared for a wide range of species, including dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

GEQ magazine recently caught up with Kerry-Anne to discuss her journey in the pageant world, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the pageant industry? How were you actually ‘discovered’?

It’s a funny story actually! I walked at a charity runway for breast cancer awareness when a pageant trainer and scout approached me. They said they’d think I’d do a great job on a pageant stage, so I decided to try it out. At my first pageant, I won 4/12 titles; needless to say, I loved the experience and have been competing ever since!

What do you like most about being a beauty queen?

I get to help others and inspire people to be confident in their own skin. It’s always heart-warming to know that I’ve made a positive impact on someone.

Downside to being a beauty queen?

Unfortunately, the downside, as with any industry is dishonesty among companies. One of the biggest eye-openers for me was discovering that the title doesn’t always go to the rightful winner.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the pageant industry so far?

My most memorable moment was volunteering at an orphanage, the children put on a special performance for us, and we got to dance alongside them. My best moments have always been when I’m helping others.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

To be honest, mostly everyone! Each person I have met has a unique story, and I’m always able to learn or take something new from each experience.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the pageant industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Stay true to yourself, be strong, and trust in your ability. As I said earlier, I’ve experienced both amazing and not-so-amazing things while competing. The most important thing is to know who you are and love yourself as you are.

Working in an industry whose only emphasis is on the outside characteristics of a person, how have you stayed grounded?

You’ll actually find that the industry has changed immensely now; it is so liberating to see that diversity is the front-running theme now. People are now being valued and seen for who they are inside, which always counts from the start.

Is your family supportive of you being in the pageant industry?

Absolutely! Without their support, I wouldn’t even have gotten this far. They’re the ones who had driven me every time I’ve felt down and have praised me behind the scenes when it really mattered most. I love and adore my family and friends.

What are your future plans? Inside pageantry or out of it.

I want to open an animal shelter with a no-kill policy; animals deserve the absolute best we can offer them. I also want to focus on senior animal re-homing; statistics show that senior pets are usually left behind, which is so upsetting. Like I said earlier, I also want to get a Ph.D., so I have some really big goals!

I’ve always been a very ambitious and driven person, so I always strive to work hard and be the best I can be.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen: Halloween Kills; I love a good horror flick!

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? My pet dog Chloe, she’s just a little baby, and I love the way she looks at the world.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Probably visit a crystal cottage; I love collecting gemstones. I’ve always felt a spiritual connection to the Earth, and it’s amazing how gemstones come in diverse colours, compositions, and spiritual meaning.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Cliff dive every single day.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? All of my fears make up who I am; they also make me brave because I can challenge them and feel accomplished.

This feature is courtesy of Road2Bollywood/International Film and Entertainment Festival Australia and WOW. Big shoutout to the director and founder Maxine Simmons.

10 Fashion Essentials You Definitely Need For 2022

By Chi de Jesus

Are you tired of flipping through the magazines and going through people’s OTD’s just to get an idea of what to wear or what to shop for yourself? Here are some fashion essentials that will get you through this year. We’ve interviewed fashion experts and clothing aficionados to get their recommendations on what a stylish woman would need to be “in fashion” in 2022 (at least).

A WHITE SHIRT – buttoned-down, blousette, or crew neck, this versatile piece can go well with any clothing item. Former print and runway model, Aileen Santarinala says fabric and fit are key to making this item go with any other fashion item. Asia’s Next Top Model alumni Jodilly Pendre, says it’s her go-to item because it’s a “no brainer” – it fits any look and fashion item.

A PRINTED BLOUSE – can be the centerpiece to any solid colour combination or a break to any colour blocked look, be mindful of the size of the print though and make sure it works for you (more of this in an upcoming article). Your printed blouse can be an accent to your streamlined look.

CASHMERE KNIT – with a cowl or a turtle neck in light breathable fabric can easily transition through any season – wear it easy or with a classic look, it’ll work wonders for you… light cardigans and cozy sweaters can also work as long as it’s not fabric heavy
Comfort and style rolled into one item that may add sophistication to your style.

BLACK BODYSUIT – it’s like a leotard but with snap-ons at the bottom for easy access when you go to the little girl’s room. This is perfect for night-outs where you can move freely without worrying about what’s-untucked-where.. Perfect with low waist denim or dress shorts.

BLAZER – double-breasted or three-buttoned, tapered or oversized, this item can make the transition from casual to casual chic, from chill to corporate, and can be an emergency item that you can “pull out of the hat” when the need arises. Work with earth tones to make this item more versatile.

SILK SLIP DRESS – by itself with sexy pumps can be as captivating as wearing it with white runners and a denim jacket. It’s an item that provides a great contrast between fabrics and accessories and a good canvass to express your whimsy. Innerwear as outerwear brings us back to the design concept of Coco Chanel.

A JUMPSUIT – an item that you can literally “jump into” combining top and bottoms in a sleek design – it’s classic enough that it goes through seasons and timelines all you need to do is accessorize. Can work with or without an inner shirt.

BLACK TROUSERS – straight cut or bootleg, this goes well with almost all fashion items and it streamlines the look especially if you are bottom-heavy. If not, there is always the white option.
Make sure that cut and length complements your body proportions.

DENIM JEANS – how can you get more classic than that? Robby Carmona, multi-awarded Filipino Fashion Director says it’s a staple for daily activities and travel. Fit is key and an understanding of your body structure allows you to choose the best type for you because there’s always a denim pair of jeans for any shape or size. Proper accessories can glam this number ready for the clubs.

CLASSIC COAT COVER-UP – an easy choice to transform your look from laid-back to travel chic without breaking a sweat … make it more versatile by choosing water-repellent fabric for the rains and you will look smashing. All-weather, all occasion.. a necessary item for your wardrobe.

They’re VERSATILE, CLASSIC, and FUNCTIONAL – three qualities that make all these items essential to your wardrobe. Watch out for the rest of the “Fashion Essential Series” where we discuss accessorising and how to handle your biggest fashion essential – your skin!

Source: The Australian Filipina

Meet The Pageant System Behind The Cover Of The December 2021 Issue Of GEQ Magazine: Monarch International

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World Universal Productions is thrilled to announce their new brand Monarch International and is revealing some of their inaugural titleholders in this GEQ exclusive!

Monarch International is THE most inclusive organization in the modeling, glamor, and pageant industries.

There are categories inclusive of transgender and non-binary individuals, a category celebrating the art of Drag, a category just for talent, and an introduction to the world’s first international, all-inclusive pageant for Mermaids, Mermen, and Merfolks! All categories are open to anyone age 21 and over. Marital status and orientation are not a factor for inclusion.

Instead of traditional evening wear, Monarch International will hold a fantastical Charity Gala where the contestants will model their incredible creations along a specific theme, similar to the world-famous Met-Gala. The theme for 2022 will be Carnival in Venice!

Monarch International is finalizing its 2022 International dates, but it will be held in Washington DC in September 2022. Follow Monarch International on social media @WUPMonarchInternational and visit the website at www.worlduniversalproductions.com/monarchinternational to learn more.

Now, let’s meet the inaugural court.

Chuck Burk

Chuck is a diversity, equity, and Inclusion professional working in customer advocacy in the technology sector. He also serves on the DEI board for a not-for-profit group. He is the co-founder of a Political Action Committee focused on down-ballot candidates and legislation supporting traditionally marginalized and underrepresented groups. He is a former titleholder in the Miss Gay America system. Chuck enjoys travel, and his favorite place is Prague. He is honored, excited, and ready to get to work as the first Supreme Monarch International.

Evan Taylor

Evan resides in his native country of Scotland; he has a degree in Human Resources Management and is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development. He works as a Program Manager at Amazon. He was previously a restaurateur who co-created a brand new concept in casual dining with the UK’s youngest ever chef to hold a Michelin Star. Evan is passionate about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and works closely with local abuse prevention, ritual abuse, and LBGTQIA+ charities in Scotland. He is a practicing Buddhist and really does want world peace. Evan will be spending the next year sharing the mission of Monarch International and is excited to welcome all of the 2022 delegates who seek to be his successor.

Arilyn Roberts

Travis Dupuy, otherwise known as, Arilyn Roberts is from Baton Rouge, and has competed in pageants since the age of 10. Arilyn is your current reigning Queen Apollo, Miss Southern Illusion Queen of the South, a former Miss Louisiana Gay America, and was recently named the inaugural Queen Monarch International. A licensed cosmetologist and barber, Arilyn has also been a cosmetology teacher for 10 years with Paul Mitchell. Arilyn is also an accomplished dancer and a member of the National Thespian Society. Arilyn has had the opportunity to appear on the big screen in the movie “Dallas Buyers” starring Matthew McConaughey, and was recently an extra in the hit TV series “Claws.” Arilyn is thrilled to be our first Queen Monarch!

Jorge Romo-Jimenez

Jorge is a 2017 graduate of Norfolk State University, where he was Mr. Norfolk State University 2015 and earned a BS degree in Chemistry. He is currently in his fourth year of teaching at a public charter school in Washington, DC. With his core values being authenticity, equity, and effectiveness, Jorge is passionate about education and creating a culturally responsive classroom where each scholar can learn and grow. As a black male educator in an underserved community, he prides himself on the safe space he creates for his students, the relationships he nurtures, and the growth mindset principles that serve as the foundation of his classroom. Jorge’s most important education pieces are the platform to enhance students’ voices, self-advocacy, and autonomous learning and thinking. While in the classroom now, he hopes to advocate for educational reform for students in low socio-economic communities and reform the oppressive structures in which educational systems have been rooted for centuries. Jorge is proud to represent Monarch International as the first International Ambassador.

Mermaid Echo

Echo is an international award-winning aquarium performer and aquatic educator. Echo is Wisconsin’s premier professional mermaid entertainer, specializing in children’s conservation education. Mermaid Echo Entertainment LLC works to inspire the next generation to care for at-risk aquatic ecosystems through storytelling and hands-on learning. Echo is a certified PADI Mermaid Instructor, Open Water Diver, and Red Cross Lifeguard who centers safety in their events and curriculum. They have over seven years of experience in one-on-one childhood development and aquatic education and have been running Mermaid Echo Entertainment LLC since 2016. They currently hold the titles Merfolk Monarch International, Ocean Ambassador, and Ms. Mermaid Wisconsin 2021. Mermaid Echo is excited to combine their love of mermaiding with a passion for supporting non-binary communities, as the Merfolk title is specifically for individuals who identify as non-binary.

Blix

Blixunami (Eric Milligan) is from Charleston, South Carolina. As a young kid, in 1995, Eric saw his mermaid on tv, the Jewel Hair Mermaid Barbie, and fell instantly in love with the creatures! Eric would spend their days daydreaming about mermaids. Once Eric got to High School, they found a website forum called mer-yuku where they met so many others that loved merfolk just as much as him. Eric finally found his tribe. After years of dribbling over others’ tail pictures and unwrapping videos, in 2012, Eric got blessed to receive their first tail for free from a long-distance friend. After putting the tail on for the first time, Eric knew life was complete, and Blix became their mer-sona. Eric mostly swam in local pools with friends until one day in 2016; he got his first paid gig as a professional Merm for Dallas Southern Pride. This then led to his 1st kid’s party, a 7 day trip to Italy for the Santarcangelo Festival, a YouTube interview with Davey Wavey and even scored an episode with Tosh.O! He has been a cover model for BEAU Magazine in South Carolina and at this time decided to create a more uniform look for his mer-sona and The Blixunami was born. Now, as The Blixunami, they made their new look debut at the Tybee Island Mermaid Festival and were a mega-hit with the crowd! Since then, Eric has done many festivals, parades, and other gigs. Eric’s goal as The Blixunami is to make sure that everyone that gets the chance to meet them leaves with a bigger imagination than before and the knowledge to know no matter who they are, what they look like or where they come from, they can always follow their dreams no matter what any says and to always SPLISH SPLASH ON THE ANCHOVIES! Eric is thrilled to be the inaugural Merman for Monarch International!

Syrena

Syrena is Singapore’s First Mermaid, Singapore’s first and premier professional mermaid, and the founder of the Singapore Mermaid School.

Born and raised in the cosmopolitan Little Red Dot with the legendary Merlion as its cultural creature of myth, Syrena has made waves locally and internationally as an industry leader.

She has executed, hosted, and performed at numerous first-of-their-kind mermaid events in Singapore, including having her own weekly aquarium show, collaborating with the Singapore Zoo, performing atop the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel, as well as performing in a custom-built tank outside Tiffany’s. Besides the glitter and glamor of her larger-scale events, Syrena retains a soft spot for the signature mermaid appearances she executes for little ones, believing it is important that children are shown the wonder and whimsy of the world around them.

Adjacent to her performing career, Syrena founded the Singapore Mermaid School, which opened its doors to children and adults.
The Singapore Mermaid School was the first mermaid school in the world to establish a tiered and holistic syllabus, and was also the first mermaid school in Asia to be established by a professional Asian mermaid. The vibrant community that has sprung up from the School celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and sisterhood.

Syrena’s career has taken her from the chrome and glass infinity pools of Singapore to the shores of Hawaii, Bali, the Maldives, and most recently – America, where she headlined MerMagicCon 2019.

Syrena has dipped her fins in pageantry, securing a place as a Top 10 Finalist in Miss Universe Singapore, and is thrilled to take her place again in the scene for a cause that celebrates individuality and dynamism as Ms. Mermaid Monarch International.

Montara Grace

Montara Grace has been a professional mermaid performer since 2016. In her adventures, she has performed as far north as Ohio and as far south as West Virginia, where she has worked with the West Virginia Renaissance Festival since its opening in 2018. She has participated in several pageants in the past few years, having held the titles of Miss Mermaid Montana 2019-2020 and Miss Mermaid North Dakota 2021 with Miss Mermaid USA, Monarch of the Lake with Mermaid at Any Age, and Ms. Egypt 2021 for Ms. World Universal International. As a plus-size woman, her platform has continuously been diversity, inclusion, and body positivity. She works to create a space where everyone can coexist and supports others as they learn to love themselves. Pageantry has elevated her love of philanthropy. A long-time supporter of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Save the Manatee Club, and the National Zoo, Montara Grace has since donated efforts to the Maryland chapter of the TEARS Foundation, the Trevor Project. She is an active member of the Society of Fat Mermaids. She currently resides in Maryland with her dog, three cats, chickens, and mini pig, Pancake. This past year she founded a cat rescue, The Purrsery, for pregnant strays and abandoned kittens. When not mermaiding, volunteering, or bottle-feeding kittens, she works full time in vaccine manufacture. Montara is so excited to share the first fully inclusive Mermaid pageant with merfolk around the globe!

Meet The Shepreneur Behind The Cover Of The December 2021 Issue Of Global Elite Entrepreneur: Robbie Canner

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Robbie Canner is a 63-year-old entrepreneur, international model, and the Director and owner of Ms. Australia, New Zealand, Oceania World Universal, and Ms. Regal World Universal, and Ms. Majestic World Universal. She was crowned Ms. World back in 2018/19, and she’s the reigning Ms. World Universal Elite 2020/21. She’s also a public speaker on the topic “Age Is No Barrier.”

Since winning the Ms. World title, her public profile has considerably grown, allowing her to promote her platform and raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Winning major international titles in her 60’s has given her a platform, showing men and women from all walks of life, that age is no barrier to what anyone can achieve.

Since losing her son to cancer, her emotional and mental stress led her to visit thoughts such as, “I don’t want to be here anymore,” or “I want to be with my son.” However, her inner strength eventually led her to want still to continue living, have a say, and give direction to help others in any area of situational, emotional, and mental stress – assuring them that things can get better in time.

She loves chatting with future queens and friends she meets along her journey, and she wants to help them achieve their hopes and goals.

Global Elite Entrepreneur recently caught up with Robbie to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur, and here’s what went down:

When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?

My first business venture was 36 years ago when I started my Sports Therapy Practice which all these years later is still running at a huge and booked-out pace. I always did extra work in TV commercials and movies but always wanted to walk the runway at Fashion Week. Little did I know that it would take into my 60’s to achieve this as in right now. Now, after winning Ms. World in 2018, it has propelled me into many avenues of modelling, media, guest speaking, podcasts, promotions, and becoming the Director of my pageant event Ms. Australia, New Zealand, Oceania World Universal and Ms. Regal, and Ms. Majestic World Universal with my bestie Nancy Ellen Martin in the US now extending into Canada and Japan and the start of Monarch International. Between my practice, modelling and pageants, these are now my full-time jobs, and I love the combination. My practice works with the human body and movement, the modelling shows the human body and movement, and the pageants grow the human body and mental mindset. I guess I have the perfect combination woven together in all my careers. And I certainly don’t intend to retire from any of them, only increase this creative combination to success.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

To maintain and grow my businesses currently is staying on a platform of currency in the trends happening, contacting or being approached by the right people and companies, and just having the guts to put myself out there and take a risk. My practice has a history of success, so that takes care of itself, but my national and international modelling career through my agents is going very well and now entering a new realm. Collaborating with other sources is currently a project in play, so I guess it’s a watch this space over the coming year. I have a great team around me, so I am blessed with having the best in every area.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

The form of marketing to grow my businesses, especially for my practice, has only been through word of mouth, which I have been eternally grateful for my work has preceded the need to advertise. My modelling and pageant career has taken care of itself from being approached by many sources for interviews, magazine articles, and TV and radio interviews. I have put myself out there for fashion week and travel, but luckily, I have always been invited back to grow further.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

My social media platforms of choice are Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn; these all get the word out to promote and gain ground in all avenues of my businesses. Articles and word of mouth are two of the greatest outlets to increase brand awareness.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

The toughest decision I have had to make in the last few months, as has been everyone else’s toughest decision as well, is how to get through Covid. How to survive and understand that at the end of all this craziness there will be a continuation of what was started before lockdown. I used this time to think and grow in how I would achieve my finest outcome from day 1 of freedom. I used these difficult times to grow into the best times still to come.

What do you put your success down to?

I have great friends as a source of support and visa versa, the added smile of having someone special enter my life just at this time, and most of all, to visualize where I wanted to be emotionally and career-wise post-Covid.

How has your business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Luckily, my business was an essential service, so the Covid situation did not affect my practice. With constant updates from NSW Health and following all the rules, I was able to grow through this outbreak which made me feel so good because I was not only able to help others keep their bodies mobile – but also help them emotionally giving all of them a reason to strive through to freedom.

How have you adapted your business operations in response to COVID-19 and its associated impacts?

I have used a considerable lot of spare time to think, write and plan on all levels, and somewhere along the line, I have succeeded in some of my dreams and goals. At times, I just wanted to fold like so many others, but I found the strength somewhere. Sometimes you need to hang in there in the face of adversity.

What have been some of the most important lessons you have learned because of this pandemic?

Some of the most important lessons I have learned through the pandemic are: there are a lot of people worse off than me, we can’t control life, but we can control and adapt ourselves to this situation, and to take this time to plan, think and try to grow through the emotional breakdowns. I had to plant a thought in my head that I could put my mind to anything I might like to try when I am through this. I’m looking forward to exciting, new journeys.

What do you hope to see happen in the near future for small businesses all over the world?

For all small businesses, I would like to see them all survive in the near future. Unfortunately, this will not always be possible, but some small businesses have been established and grown through this unusual time to total success and achievement. Life itself is a small business in just being a human being, and we all have the self-capability to survive and start to grow again; even though we may get knocked down, we can all support each other in this; how fantastic.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up a new business in this pandemic?

For anyone to start a new business in this pandemic is a testament to the ability of what we can all achieve to grow and succeed in the face of adversity. It is another ultimate level to challenge yourself in everyone’s mind and faith. I take my hat off to everyone who put a physical and mental idea into practice during a pandemic and survived to start a new business into where we all now exist. This is the ultimate achievement and growth to saying there’s nothing anyone cannot do.

Photo Credit: Tony Palliser of Studio 49

Get To Know Oscar Nominated/Grammy Winning Composer Stephan Moccio

By Allison Kugel

Sitting down with famed Oscar and Grammy-nominated music composer, writer and producer, Stephan Moccio, I join his gaze on his piano, which has given life to some of the most iconic songs in popular music. He is kind enough to show me his home’s expansive canyon view, which takes my breathe away. We talk about life, laughter, love, and the behind-the-scenes stories for some of my favorite hit songs.

The collective vibration is buzzing with positive energy as we discuss his role as co-writer and composer on chart-topping hits from The Weeknd’s seven-times-platinum single Earned It from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack for which Moccio earned three Grammy nominations and an Oscar nod; to the Miley Cyrus multiplatinum single, Wrecking Ball, and countless Celine Dion hits, including her record-breaking single,  A New Day Has Come.

The stories behind the songs are surprising, revelatory, and poignant, as is Moccio’s propensity to swivel his torso towards his piano keys and start playing the melodies of some of his famous hits. This thrills and delights me; it’s an unexpected front-row seat into his artistry.

The conversation then turned to Moccio’s latest solo effort, the instrumental album, Lionheart, an exquisitely composed and arranged album that demonstrates the tremendous scope of his musicality, drawing upon his eclectic background. Stephan Moccio’s piano-based solo recordings, including his 2020 album, Tales of Solace, has enjoyed a jaw-dropping four hundred million streams across music platforms.

Allison Kugel: You co-wrote and composed the Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated song Earned It with The Weeknd, for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Though you’re both from the Toronto area, that is actually not where the two of you met and began working together.

Stephan Moccio: Maybe it helped us eventually get together, but we never met each other in Toronto. When I was living in downtown Toronto, our respective studios were seven blocks away from each other. When Abel (The Weeknd’s birth name is Abel Tesfaye) was doing his mixtapes and he was becoming underground famous, prior to his explosion to the world, I had a bunch of assistant engineers at the time that kept saying, “You have to get with this guy called The Weeknd. He has a really cool voice, kind of like Michael Jackson, and everyone is loving what he’s doing.” He was on my radar and we just never made it happen until I moved to LA.  Our managers got together for lunch in Toronto and said, “Listen, we have to get Stephan and Abel together and make some music.” The rest was history.

Allison Kugel: Tell me about how you and Abel collaborated to create the song Earned It

Stephan Moccio: Again, great story, because he was already asked to do something for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, as was I. Before Earned It was written, I had the end credit song called I Know You, that I wrote with [singer/songwriter] Skylar Grey. When Abel and I got together with [music producer] DaHeala, his other co-producer, and another writing partner, Belly, the four of us wrote Earned It, and of course, that obliterated my other song (laugh).

Allison Kugel: As a solo recording artist, your music is primarily piano and instrumental. When you work with a vocalist as the composer and co-writer, are you writing lyrics as well? 

Stephan Moccio: I do, but I don’t write as many lyrics. They don’t come as fast. Music just comes out of my fingers. It just bleeds. I have so much music in me, and that’s the easy thing for me, so I have the privilege of getting together with some of the greatest singers in the world; Celine Dion, Miley Cyrus, The Weeknd. Oftentimes, especially with Abel, he does write his own music and he collaborates with producers like me. It’s like a waltz, that song (Moccio begins playing the melody to ‘Earned It’ on his home piano).  What people don’t realize is that lyrics will shape melody as well.  A word can shape the melody, so we don’t even divide it that way anymore.

Allison Kugel: Is Abel singing his lyrics while you’re playing the melody, and then you’re like, “Okay great, let’s do that.”? Am I getting the process right?

Stephan Moccio: It pretty well is, yes. He had an idea, and I sort of expanded on it. He and one of his producers came into my studio, but that whole string element that you hear at the beginning was something I just do in my sleep. I was kind of mocking it up on my piano and he and DaHeala said, “Oh my God, that is amazing! Record that.” And it became the foundation of the track. In order to qualify for the Academy Awards, you have to see the movie and then write the song according to what you saw. Once we saw the movie, we completed the song, lyrics, and arrangements.

Allison Kugel: And the song was nominated for an Oscar.

Stephan Moccio: Yes, it was, and we performed it at the Oscars, which was exciting.  It was such an incredible experience. Not just the nomination, but the whole week and a half leading up to the Oscars… the luncheon, and performing at the Oscars.

Allison Kugel: Well, the luncheon.. you can’t miss the luncheon (laughs).

Stephan Moccio: No, the luncheon, people don’t realize, can be more powerful and exciting than the actual Oscars (laugh).

Allison Kugel: I know, I’m teasing. Let’s talk about another song you collaborated on, one of my favorites, the Miley Cyrus song, Wrecking Ball. Tell me how that collaboration came together with Miley Cyrus.  

Stephan Moccio: I got in a room with two other incredible songwriters.  It was me, songwriter Maureen McDonald who goes by the professional name “Mozella,” and Sacha Skarbek. Mozella was supposed to get married that week and she decided it just didn’t feel right, and so she came to the session fragile, down, and broken.  With a lot of courage and bravery, she showed up to the session. Oftentimes, in a situation like that you want to wallow or just kind of sit in that misery and lay in bed. Somehow, I felt that she kind of needed to change things up, write some songs, and not think about how hurt and upset she was. She came into our songwriting session in such a state, that the song and the lyrics for Wrecking Ball, that is her real story. And we, of course, all wrote the song and the melody. I’m at the piano with Mozella singing it, and she said, “I’m going to be seeing Miley [Cyrus] in a couple of weeks. Do you mind if I pass this song along to her?”

Allison Kugel: That’s so interesting, because most people including myself, assumed Miley Cyrus wrote the lyrics to Wrecking Ball about her relationship with Liam Hemsworth.

Stephan Moccio: Yes, of course. That was a one in a million [coincidence]. It rarely happens like that. Miley is a phenomenal writer, herself, but that song was really and truly written by the three of us. It really resonated with Miley. A lot of artists would say, “I don’t want to do it because I didn’t write the song,” but there was so much truth to what Mozella was going through, and that’s how universal that theme is in Wrecking Ball.  Dr. Luke produced the song, for which Miley then did a provocative music video, which was a big part of it.  Miley was going through a lot of personal growth at that time, and she was wanting to sort of break up with her Disney days and become the artist that she is now. Miley was, of course, going through her breakup [from Liam Hemsworth] at the time and she said, “I’ve got to record this song.” She recorded the song, and they ended up using my piano melody for it.

Allison Kugel: You just brought up an explosive name, Dr. Luke. You said it in passing, like a drive-by. What is the current consensus about him in the music industry?

Stephan Moccio: I’ve learned that as a producer he is certainly highly respected in regards to his skills, to be very clear. With what went down, it would be unjust of me to comment on something that I’m really uneducated about. The irony, though, is that the music industry is full of so many pitfalls and I’ve just seen that so much is manipulated to create something that is not always truthful. As artists, we create a painting that is not truly us. Instagram is not truly us. It is our highlight reel and it’s the best part of our lives.  Are we showing when our kids are in pain and they need us the most when they are crying and you’re exhausted and just want to punch a wall sometimes? All I can say is, he truly is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to music, but the rest, who knows.

Allison Kugel: Do you think young female artists, generally speaking, get the respect they deserve when they are working intimately with male writers, producers, and composers? Is there professional respect and professional boundaries, for the most part?

Stephan Moccio: Generally speaking, no, there isn’t. I still think women are at a disadvantage. I have a lot of respect for female writers and female artists. Some of my greatest successes have come from working with songwriters like Mozella and Skylar Grey, two incredible talents who happen to be female. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a female artist getting into a room with certain genres of music, which sometimes can be a little more male dominant. Things are certainly better. If you think about some of the great albums of our time like Tapestry by Carole King, Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette, 21 by Adele. Some of those are the greatest albums of all time, and they are by scorned women who got through breakups. There have been science to prove that part of the success is that woman respond to female art in that way. I find that fascinating, but I also was raised primarily by a mom.  My parents got divorced when I was thirteen years old. My dad is a great man and is still alive and still a huge part of my life. But as I see mothers, and single mothers, I have tremendous respect for them.

Allison Kugel: Right here (I raise my hand).

Stephan Moccio: You’re one of them, and that is why I have such admiration. My mom raised my brother and me, two boys, and she was a French-speaking woman in an English-speaking part of Canada, so she had her own challenges. The female aspect in the music industry is certainly something we are making positive strides to change, but I still believe there is a lot of progress that is needed.

Allison Kugel: Speaking of French-Canadian, you have also collaborated with Celine Dion.

Stephan Moccio: Celine is a treasure in Canada. I’m French Canadian as well, and we go back twenty-plus years. I’ve written and produced a handful of songs for Celine, and my first international hit with Celine was her song, A New Day Has Come. It was a song that changed my life as a songwriter. I was in my twenties when I wrote that, and it was her first comeback song after she took a sabbatical for a couple of years to give birth to her first child. That song became the title to her Las Vegas residency. A decade earlier I met her and said to her, “One day I’m going to write you a hit song.” She was so gracious and she said, “Okay, bye for now.” Then I had the opportunity to write A New Day Has Come almost a decade later and sent it to Celine and her manager. They called us back and Celine said, “This song is unbelievable.” Sometimes you can visualize your dreams and really go for it.

Allison Kugel: And this collaboration with Celine Dion has been ongoing…

Stephan Moccio: Yes. Then, of course, I went on to write the Olympics theme song for Canada and a plethora of other things for her. I moved to LA in 2013 and I had a huge string of successes with Miley and The Weeknd, and then I got another call from Celine when she was ready to do an English-speaking album, just a few years ago. She asked me to produce and write a good part of that album. We have now been working together for twenty years.  I’m forty-eight now! Celine Dion is one of the hardest working artists I’ve worked with at that level, with no disrespect to anybody else, but she still wants it more than anybody.

Allison Kugel: That hunger is still there? 

Stephan Moccio: The hunger is still there, and it is there with Abel (The Weeknd) as well. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t know Miley that well, and I can tell Miley is definitely a student of pop culture, but Celine’s work ethic is where she will get into the studio at 6 pm and she won’t get off that microphone until it’s done, at like, 5 am or 6 am. Sometimes she is in there for twelve hours. And she doesn’t need to be. She’s one of the greatest singers in the world, but she’s certainly driven to make sure her emotion is communicated on record.

Allison Kugel: Your own instrumental album, Tales of Solace, which came out in early 2020, it did extraordinarily well. Do you think it was because the tranquility and meditative quality of your piano melodies were exactly what people needed?  

Stephan Moccio: That is exactly it, Allison. I wrote that album, pre-pandemic, but I was writing it because I was needing to come back to the basics. Before the world shut down last year, I felt like my life was very complicated. It was very big, living in Los Angeles, I was going through a lot of personal changes, and so I wrote Tales of Solace. When it was released, shortly after the world shut down, people thought it was the pandemic album (laughs).

Allison Kugel: The quiet in the storm (laugh).

Stephan Moccio: Exactly. The friend that you needed. I just happened to be ready and prepared with that album. It came from a genuine place. I was doing it just to serve my own emotional needs. I needed a break from the madness of always chasing the charts. That stuff is exciting, but I just felt it was time to make a hard right turn and go back to my roots, which was my piano. That is also why I think it did well because there are no lyrics to it. These [solo] albums I do are meant to be meditative, peaceful, and just bring you introspection and allow reflection. By virtue of not having lyrics, the music crosses and transcends cultures.

Allison Kugel: And your new instrumental album, Lionheart, that album title resonates with me because I’ve always said, although I’m 5’3” and have a certain visage, I have the heart of a lion. Why did you choose to title the album, Lionheart, and how is the music different from Tales of Solace?

Stephan Moccio: I proudly state my age, because I think in age there is wisdom (Moccio is 48).  I’ve been going through a lot of personal growth over the past five years. I was always someone who tried to please others and that doesn’t get you everywhere all the time. If you try to bend to make other people happy, you sort of forgo our own moral compass at times, if that makes any sense. With the album, Lionheart, I was looking for an album title and I came across Joan of Arc. I love Joan of Arc because of my grandmother, her name is Joan of Arc in French. And her name means “lionhearted.” I thought it was interesting. It means bravery and determination.  It really summed up exactly where I am in life. Opinions of other people don’t bother me anymore. They don’t affect what I know to be the truth, or what I know to be what I need to do.  If you love piano music, if you love instrumental music, I’ve put so much love into these albums.  Hundreds and hundreds of millions of streams later, it’s hugely impressive for a piano album. Lionheart is a word right now, at this point in my life, that encapsulates everything I am.

Allison Kugel: I am forty-seven, and I’ve been listening to a lot of spiritual leaders who have said that as humans we don’t often look at age in the right way. There are so many wise people who have said that you really don’t reach the stage of adulthood until around forty. Before that, you are still in some ways very much a child. Then, when you reach the age of 49/50, you really kind of come into your own, because that is the stage of life where, energetically, you shift from being concerned with how other people see you to letting go of a lot of that so that you can create a life in a more authentic way.

Stephan Moccio: That is exactly what happened to me. Throughout my forties, especially in the last few years as I get towards fifty, which is crazy to think about, there is a metamorphosis that I literally see change in my life. People will sometimes, on a surface level, mistake that for ego or selfishness.  It’s actually the opposite.  It’s benevolence. It’s when you do know exactly who you are, that you can offer your true gifts to this world.  You able to give more to people. It sounds cliché, but as soon as you are able to accept that, you learn the ability to say, “No,” or “No thank you, not right now.” Otherwise, it just infringes on your ability to give back your true powers to the world your true energy.  Again, I’ve seen it with all the great artists that I’ve worked with, whether it’s with Abel or Celine.  Celine is truly who she is.  Sometimes people will get irritated by happy people because they are irritated by the fact that people have found their calling. I hope I’m becoming one of those people, through my piano music, who can transform or shape lives differently through something great, through my fingers or through my art with my piano.

Allison Kugel: What is the emotional arc of the music in Lionheart?

Stephan Moccio: Lionheart was truly written and composed during the pandemic, so there was this kind of feeling last year when we were all sitting there and the world was shut down, none of us had gone through that before. I was locked in my studio in Santa Monica for seven weeks, just kind of recording all these beautiful melodies for this album. It was in a sense, a rebirth, like a renaissance, a new world. When we look back in the history books this will be another renaissance, for better or for worse. The pandemic has reshaped our values, reshaped us as humans, reshaped our political system. It’s reshaped so much in life, and so it reshaped my music.

Allison Kugel: Where do you believe this musical ability comes from? Do you think it comes from God? From your mind? Your heart?

Stephan Moccio: That’s a great question. I came from a very open household. Both of my parents are phenomenal and great speakers. My mom, in particular, and I, come from a family of pianists. I had to learn my craft my entire life and I’ve been at it for forty plus years now, where I know how to communicate on an instrument.  So when I have a feeling, I can get that feeling from my head, to my heart, out through my fingers, and play exactly what I want to play, chord-wise or melody-wise.

Listen to the full, extended interview with Stephan Moccio on the Allison Interviews Podcast at Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Follow Allison Kugel on Instagram @theallisonkugel and at allisoninterviews.com.

Stephan Moccio’s latest instrumental album, Lionheart, is out now, on all streaming services and at stephanmoccio.com. Follow on Instragram @stephanmoccio.  

Defining Beauty… Do You Feel Beautiful Right Now?

Defining beauty as a concept is akin to holding sand in your hands. You can grasp at it and you certainly can seem to understand what it looks and feels like, but it is by no means solid. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this cliché certainly holds true. Approach anyone in the street and ask him or her to explain their ideal of beauty and you will undoubtedly get substantial variations in response. What you might come to discover is that defining beauty is closer to “I know it when I see it”.

It becomes very obvious then that defining beauty is as subjective as one’s taste in music. The search for it has spanned centuries – a relief in the tomb of the Egyptian nobleman Ptahhotep (who lived around 2400 BC) shows him getting a pedicure. Cleopatra wore kohl, a precursor to the modern eyeliner. Incarnations of what is considered ‘beautiful’ has ranged from breath-stealing corsets in the 19th century to achieve a tiny waist to our modern-day gravity-defying, ankle-threatening stilettos.

And that search is an expensive one! According to National Geographic, in the US, billions get spent on makeup, hair and skincare, diet products and services, and billions more on health club memberships and plastic surgery.

But what for? Experts from all different fields have weighed in to define beauty and why we search for it. Studies by anthropologist Don Symons at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and psychologist, David Perrett at St Andrews University in Scotland, all show that men consistently showed a preference for women with smooth skin, larger eyes, fuller lips, and a smaller nose and chin because “all these traits are reliable cues to youth, good health, and fertility.” Essential characteristics we instinctively know (honed over millennia) are vital for continuing the human race. However, that hard-wiring in our brain circuitry can be altered, especially by culture, according to Douglas Yu, a biologist from Great Britain whose studies, for example, found that indigenous tribes in Southeast Peru preferred body shapes regarded as overweight in western culture. “A fuller, evolutionary theory of human beauty must embrace variation,” says Yu.

So, who’s been shaping the modern definition of beauty? That modern definition that has us worshipping Victoria’s Secret models, A-list stars, and beauty queens, and has us comparing our bodies to theirs? That has us modifying our eating habits that in an ever-growing number around the world, has resulted in eating disorders? That has us losing our sense of self-worth and self-esteem? It’s so easy to blame the media – magazines, TV, movies – as the culprit. But who buys those magazines, watches those TV shows, goes to the movies?

We do.

In a twisted sort of way, we ourselves have been responsible. What we watch, what we buy has inadvertently shaped what modern society now considers beautiful. So, in recognizing that, can we then be the instruments of change?

I am an aunt to three beautiful little girls and I find myself sometimes terrified when I think of the challenges that face them when they grow up. I was fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by strong, confident women and in that most essential stage – the teenage years, the high school years – when your perception of yourself in relation to others is shaped, I was blessed to have had a group of friends who couldn’t care less what anybody else thought of them. They were proud in who they were and in the dreams and ambitions they had for themselves. After high school, I again found myself, in the form of my two best friends and the women in my Christian youth group, with kindred spirits whose values and integrity meant more to them than superficial cares. I look back at those women, grateful that I knew them, and praying that my nieces will have women like them who will stand steadfast against today’s shallow perception of beauty.

When I was researching this article, I decided to have a look at the dictionary’s definition of beauty. According to Merriam Webster, beauty is:

– The quality of being physically attractive
– The qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind.

Now that second part got me thinking… “qualities that give pleasure…” Isn’t that a healthier way of thinking about beauty? I mean, something can be physically attractive or ‘beautiful’ but deadly like a poisonous plant, and in that same vein, someone can be stunningly gorgeous but be a horrible person inside. So, I think instead of aiming to be beautiful, we should aim to be attractive. I mean, let’s face it, there is no way you can look like those models in the magazines. You know why? Because you don’t have the same genes they do, It’s as simple as that.

So, what do I mean about aiming to be attractive? Being attractive means that you’re the sort of person people are drawn to – like two magnets being pulled towards each other. Not drawn to you because of how gorgeous you look, but because they actually want to spend time with you. They are drawn to you because you are a person with a good heart, whose confidence and positive nature is just as irresistible as honey is to a bee. It’s a challenge, yes. And much more difficult for some to achieve than others but that’s what my circle of strong, confident women taught me – that my heart is more important than my face. Because ultimately, when I’m at my most unguarded when the only critic I face is me and I ask: “Do I love me?” and when I can say: “Yes”….that’s when I feel beautiful.

15 Of Instagram’s Highest Earning Celeb Couples Ranked

From Selena and Chris to Kim K and Pete –  the rumors are rife with potential new couples blossoming every day. But which of our favourite A-list couples stand to earn the most per combined Instagram post? By utilizing tools such as the Influencer Marketing HubTop10Casinos.com can now reveal all.

THE RESULTS:

Name

Potential earnings per post $

Combined potential earnings per post $

Potential earnings per post $

Partner

Kylie Jenner

$921,751

$1,066,150

$144,399

Travis Scott

Selena Gomez

$894,163

$937,452

$43,289

Chris Evans

Ariana Grande

$904,409

$904,409

$0

Dalton Gomez

Kim Kardashian

$864,988

$865,636

$648

Pete Davidson

Justin Bieber

$667,533

$794,846

$127,313

Hailey Bieber

Beyoncé

$715,103

$715,103

$0

Jay Z

Kendall Jenner

$652,144

$652,484

$340

Devin Booker

Taylor Swift

$606,084

$609,606

$3,522

Joe Alwyn

Zendaya

$364,834

$527,004

$162,170

Tom Holland

Kourtney Kardashian

$491,163

$510,837

$19,674

Travis Barker

Katy Perry

$462,258

$480,263

$18,005

Orlando Bloom

Cardi B

$375,476

$439,786

$64,310

Offset

Kevin Hart

$421,185

$432,557

$11,372

Eniko Hart

A$AP Rocky

$45,530

$411,836

$366,306

Rihanna

Camila Cabello

$192,315

$405,761

$213,446

Shawn Mendes

Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott are the celebrity couple with the highest combined potential Instagram earnings, with an estimated $1,066,150 per post! When broken down into individual figures, Kylie not only has the largest number of followers (278 million) of all the celebrities analyzed, but she also could rake in the most with an estimated individual earning of $921,751 per post – a whopping 538% more than her baby daddy Travis Scott ($144,399 per post), and 41% more than her big sis Kendall Jenner ($652,144 per post).

If the rumors are true, Selena Gomez and Marvel man Chris Evans could take second place, with combined earnings of $937,452. Despite Selena potentially earning 1.3% less than her fellow pop star Ariana Grande, it is Captain America himself that comes to the rescue to place them in second with estimated $43,289 per post.

Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez take third – with Ariana potentially carrying both her and her newlywed husband Dalton Gomez with Instagram earrings of $904,409, as the real-estate broker chose to keep his life and Instagram private.  This makes the popstar the second-highest-paid A-lister of the celebrities analyzed, just 1.8% behind Kylie Jenner who takes the top spot.

Another rumoured romance is that of Kim Kardashian and comedian Pete Davidson, as they were recently spotted holding hands on a Halloween ride. If they were to couple up, they could be the fourth highest-earning couple on Instagram with estimated potential earnings of £632,810. However, this is a 3% decrease from the earnings Kim K could have made with her baby daddy Kanye – as the couple had estimated earnings of £654,184 per post before their split.

Beyoncé earns more than 90% of celebrity couples collectively

Queen B places in sixth despite the lack of her husband’s, Jay Z, Instagram account with a whopping estimated earning of $715,103 – single-handedly earning more than 90% of the celebrity couples analyzed!

Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes make the top 15

In 15th place are sweethearts and ‘Senorita’ singers Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, with combined potential earnings of $405,761 – 361% more than Cabello’s collaboration partner Machine Gun Kelly and his girlfriend Megan Fox, who could earn together $87,870 per post.

Although they have recently split – Victoria Secret model Gigi Hadid and her ex-boo, Zayn Malik would place in 16th. With Gigi ($233,464) potentially earning 65% more than her ex-popstar boyfriend Zayn ($141,213), the pair still pull in 2% more than Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi ($367,069 combined potential earnings) who place 17th.

Methodology:

  1. Top10Casinos.com sought to discover the most popular celebrity couple with the highest collective potential earnings on Instagram.
  2. The obtained list of celebrity couples was sourced from multiple articles relating to the most well-known celebrity couples using in-house metrics. Sources can be found here.
  3. Following the establishment of a seed list, each celebrity’s Instagram username was obtained – if neither member of the couple had Instagram or had private accounts they were omitted from the study.
  4. Influencer Marketing Hub was utilized to collect each celebrity’s potential earnings per Instagram post, by inputting their Instagram username into the tool.
  5. The combined earnings of the couples were totaled and ranked in descending order, to thus determine the celebrity couple with the highest potential earnings on Instagram.
  6. The currency was originally collected in USD ($) and rounded up to the nearest dollar.
  7. Data was collected on 28.10.21 and is subject to change.

Editorial credit: Sky Cinema / Shutterstock.com

This article was sourced from a media release sent by Bethany Surridge of Journalistic.org