A kid, I never felt like I fit in. I didn’t know how to talk to people; I was sort of awkward and super-serious. My family moved around a lot, and I had multiple illnesses and long stints in hospitals until I was 12, so I never really had many friends at school. One group would accept me and then decide I wasn’t part of the group anymore, and I’d have to find new friends. Kids were mean. Once, my shoe got caught in my desk, I fell, and the desk came with me. The whole class laughed‚ and the teacher caught it on video.
For a couple of years, I cried every day, and I prayed to whatever gods were out there that life would get better. I really found my place when I started acting. I got my first job when I was 12, in the movie Camp Nowhere. I was cast as Kissing Girl #2,‚ but then they gave me the name Gail and I got three lines. Actors and people in entertainment are like circus people‚ we’re strange and creative, and we celebrate being different. For the first time, I felt like I’d found my kindred spirits. I found confidence in my quirkiness.
Because I had to go to auditions, meet people, and do interviews, I also learned how to be friendlier and more accessible. And as it turned out, the terrible things I went through at school made me more resilient and prepared me to be in a business that is full of rejection and failure. I wouldn’t have thrived in this career if I hadn’t dealt with so much of that when I was a kid. To paraphrase Drake, when you start from the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. If you have nothing to lose, you can be fearless and try new stuff. Do things that you’re afraid of. Trust your gut. Own your weirdness. Learn as much as you possibly can.
Explore enough to get passionate about something and then start pursuing it. When I was a teen, if there was an opening at a fast-food restaurant or the mall, you would work there because you had no way to find other options. But now because of the Web, you have access to all different companies and internships‚ we even have them at The Honest Company. In the meantime, remember that the cruel kids won’t always be in your life. Also, don’t worry too much about boys. I did, and it made me crazy. Focus on you, on figuring out who you are and what you really want, and on the endless possibilities your future holds.