Do the things you’re scared of. The bigger the discomfort and anxiety you have around a goal, the more important its potential is! You have gifts and messages stowed inside you that only you can deliver and fulfill. Someone somewhere out there is praying and wishing that someone like you would arrive into their life somehow. Don’t withhold your gifts because of fear. I’ll never forget a message I received from someone a few months ago. She told me that in a recent “story” I’d posted on Instagram, I’d said something that resonated so deeply with her that she was on the verge of tears. I remember being slow to post that story because it was personal and not dog-related. I’m so glad I did, and it was a reminder to keep talking and sharing — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We need each other.
As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dianne Scott, an actress, author, stepmom, and pit bull advocate. Before becoming a pit bull owner in 2012, Dianne, like many others, had many negative misconceptions about pit bulls. In 2014, she became a stepmother, and was further shocked to realize how much being a stepmom had in common with the stereotypes and discriminations pit bulls endured. Presently, Dianne utilizes her acting career, her work in the community, her children’s book series, and social media platforms to make a social impact. She is determined to encourage others to question their misbeliefs about pit bulls as well as be a voice for the voiceless.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/50c64b2bc27b99a13a82686e36de1cb9
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Of course! I’m the daughter of a pastor and a teacher. I grew up in Northern California with two fabulous older siblings. At a very young age, I realized I wanted to be an actress, as I loved nothing more than to entertain and perform comedy skits for family and friends. I also loved to write and wrote dozens and dozens of original stories in high school, illustrating them myself. However, it was clear I should stick to writing! I chased my artistic passions through high school and college, moved all around Southern California, and in my twenties, I studied abroad in London. Eventually, after many years of wandering off the path I had set for myself when I was younger, and erroneously seeking out fulfillment from people and parties, I landed in Los Angeles, where I now live with my husband and stepchildren.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?
When I was in my early twenties, a friend told me that I needed to watch the documentary-style film, The Secret. I did, and I was absolutely intrigued, so I read the book as well. The Secret is all about the law of attraction and how to create the life that you desire, with your mindset and beliefs. However, the film and book leave out quite a bit of information when it comes to how to truly manifest and put these ideas to practice. Therefore, while I was thirsting for more about this mysterious concept, I got distracted by a wild and fun lifestyle in Hollywood. As a result, I put my search to create my desired life on the backburner for several years. It wasn’t until my early thirties that I came across more in-depth resources, courses, and experts that would significantly expand my knowledge and understanding on the art of manifesting, as The Secret had introduced to me nearly a decade before.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
When I first arrived in Hollywood, I was star-struck by most anyone and was desperate to “make it big.” I learned some very valuable lessons in those first few years. I trusted people I shouldn’t have, I read for roles I wasn’t comfortable with, and I allowed managers and agents to put me in a box. I can look back on my early journey and see how I ignored the red flags and signs of people abusing their power or lying to me. I don’t regret those mistakes because I indeed learned so much from them. Now, I know that it is far more important to be comfortable and safe, than to be polite or agreeable. I decide how my life and career go, what I participate in, and what boundaries are appropriate. Now that I’m older, it’s easy to set these boundaries and say no. Consequently, the right people, jobs, and experiences show up in my life quickly and seemingly effortlessly. I’ve learned that if offers or opportunities feel wrong inside my gut on any level, then they must be wrong for me. I no longer hesitate. I also understand that just because someone is in a position of power, it doesn’t mean they’re the only person who can or will help me. There is magic in setting firm boundaries. As humans, we are far more powerful than we know.
Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?
My five-part children’s book series are true tales about my family’s pets, all six of them, not including the two outdoor stray cats who adopted us! The stories are endless living with two pit-mixes and four cats. It’s a very full house and there’s never a dull moment. Each story aims to teach children to see the world through the eyes of animals, how and why to have compassion for them and to treat them with respect. Furthermore, the books aim to educate society about the wrongful discrimination of pit bulls and “pit-type” dogs. In 2012, my husband suggested we adopt a dog who had been abandoned by his owner and had been returned to a shelter. At the time, we had no pets. When I saw the photo of the dog, and saw he was a pit bull, I said, “But wait. Aren’t pit bulls dangerous? Can’t they snap at any time?” My husband, bless his heart, gently laughed and explained to me that this was a stereotype of a tiny percentage of pit bulls, often greatly enhanced by the news and media. Since I trust my husband wholeheartedly, we decided to adopt our Hurley. I fell head over heels for this sweet dog who was 80 lbs. and believed he belonged on our laps. He was diagnosed with lymphoma a few years later and died when he was only four years old. My heart was shattered. Hurley is the reason I began writing my series. I knew I was one of millions of people who had believed what they heard someplace, sometime, that all pit bulls are BAD and can’t be trusted. Studies show that only about one in six hundred pit-type dogs will find a forever home, due to misinformation and a lack of understanding of these types of dogs.
To honor Hurley, I needed to share the truth. What started as a playful children’s book series evolved into a large Instagram following, a web-series, and a clothing line. I now have a giant platform to help spread my message, and have connected with multiple other pit bull advocates, which I am so grateful for!
Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
My most recent book, Pugsley Goes to School, is the story of one of our current pit-mixes. Pugsley started to change as he went through puberty, and when he was about a year old, we realized he was not a fan of other dogs (besides our other current dog, Wednesday, who he’d grown up with). At that time (2017), I knew the basics about dog training, but nothing about dog psychology, or what to do when your dog didn’t like other dogs. For a long time, I stopped taking him on walks. I became fearful that he would scare our neighbors, or he would lunge at another dog and we would be furthering the “pit bull” stereotype even more. The most puzzling part was, he loved humans and still does. He also loved his dog sibling and his CAT siblings! After a while of staying in hiding, my best friend forced me to take Pugsley to group dog training class. I showed up, sweating, anxious, and in tears. The first class was rough. The second class was okay. By the third class, our trainer commended both Pugsley and me for massive improvement. I was so proud of us both. Pugsley had simply been behaving the way that came naturally to him! How would he know better, unless taught? Finally, I was able to take Pugsley on the walks he deserved. I didn’t leave the house in panic anymore. I had learned how to lead and correct him, and he was learning how to trust me and let me lead. Also, I discovered how common this issue is! I have learned that many dogs don’t like other dogs, have “leash aggression,” “food aggression, etc. Most people don’t know these facts because dog owners don’t talk about it, mainly out of shame or concern for judgement.
I wrote this book to help both children and adults see a “bad” dog differently, written from the perspective of Pugsley himself, and to encourage them to do the right thing by each dog. I hope my readers learn to not take the easy way out if they encounter challenges with their dog and that they become their pet’s leader. This is especially important for dogs who are already judged by the way they look.
What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
When my husband and I first adopted Hurley, I quickly saw that this dog was as sweet and loving as could be. At that turning point, something shifted greatly in my mind. I could hardly believe how wrong I’d been, and it wasn’t even something that I’d consciously thought about. It was simply in my subconscious. I couldn’t say where or from whom I’d heard these horrible things about pit bulls.If some of the news and headlines were able to wire my brain without me realizing it, what else was I believing, that wasn’t true? That got me thinking about stepmothers and the negative correlation most of us have programmed in our minds as well. I asked myself, “But why? Because of Cinderella or Snow White?” Being a stepmother, I’ve personally experienced prejudice, condescending comments, and exclusion from others. Conversely, there are step moms out there who are dishonest and manipulative, and maybe even…evil? Much like the less honorable stepmothers, I have to admit that there are irresponsible pit bull owners who mistreat, neglect, or abuse their dogs. Therefore, their behaviors create a recipe for a dog attack or aggression. What it all comes down to is that people are flawed. This has everything to do with human imperfection, and very little to do with anything else!
I relate all too well to the plight of the “pittie” and will never stop fighting for the underdog.
Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I recently shared a video about my dog, Pugsley. In the video, I encouraged others to never give up on a more “difficult” dog, and that there is much treasure to be found in something or someone who is easily dismissed for being too hard to handle. I’m very open with my audience about Pugsley’s journey, and my fans know the struggles we overcame, and still do this day. My DM’s were flooded with lengthy messages from people thanking me for making the post. They told me this message was what they needed to see that day, the encouragement they needed, to not give up on their own dog. One person told me they were planning on taking their dog back to the shelter, and that my video and message had made them decide to find a trainer before acting on that decision. Not many people discuss having a difficult dog; I hid my struggles with Pugsley for longer than I care to admit. Sadly, many “difficult” dogs are dumped at the shelter, and many are euthanized.
You just never know what doors will open when you share the hard things you’ve overcome.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Create programs to educate children how to respect and treat dogs, and how to train them (even just simple commands). We need a special program specifically on pit bulls and bigger breeds, possibly an after-school program, or a community service program.
- Share more positive stories on the news and in the media about pit bulls. There are so many!
- Make backyard breeding illegal. The shelters are completely overrun because of breeders and accidental litters, due to people not spaying and neutering. 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in the U.S. each year, with roughly forty percent of them being pit bulls.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
”Leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.”
A real leader encourages others to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions. Leaders teach not to blindly follow or believe what they’re told and do as they’re instructed. Just like we do in healthy parenting, leading and teaching our children so they can grow, expand, and learn. One day, these children confidently leave the home as equipped, prepared, and independent adults.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) You will fail many, MANY times, before you succeed.
I use the term “fail” lightly, because I believe you only fail if you completely give up. When I started my acting career, I auditioned for hundreds of roles. I got rejected hundreds of times. The point of “failing” is to learn from it. What can I do differently? How can I improve my craft? How can I practice patience? Can you imagine if you succeeded on your very first try? First of all, how NOT exciting would that be? If I had booked a major motion picture role on my first audition, I know for a fact that it would have ended in flames, early. I wasn’t ready, by any means. I can confidently look back and tell you for a fact, that all of my rejections were for my own protection.
2) There will be many people along the way who do not like you and some may even go after you to shut you down. It is NOT your job to make everyone like you. It is not even your business if they do, or don’t. If someone is going after you to shut you down, it’s because they know your message and mission is going somewhere, and they feel threatened. Since my Instagram platform has blown up, I get messages and comments from “haters” all the time. When you’re doing something right, and something big, you will attract push-back. I used to engage with these haters, but now I understand that their rhetoric is a sign I’m on the right track.
3) The desires in your heart are not random. We are diverse and intricate beings, and we can have multiple desires and purposes. Pursue them all! If you still believe you were born to do it, do not ever, ever give up. When I was getting rejected time and again early in my career, I threw in the towel four or five separate times. I told myself, “This must not be meant for me.” Looking back, I can see that I used my “failures” as an excuse to go back inside my comfort zone. But sure enough, time would pass, and my soul would become ablaze once more. A passion you’re meant to pursue can never be fully stamped out.
4) Invest in and take time for your personal development, every day. It can include meditation, prayer, journaling, reading, etc. Your success, career, and relationships will ultimately be unfulfilled if you are not fulfilled within first. When we’re not healed from past wounds and traumas, the pain will sit inside of us until it can’t be stifled any longer. When I was twenty-four, I married a man very quickly. When I was twenty-five, I left him. If I’d dedicated the time to mending and nurturing what had hurt me so badly before, I wouldn’t have turned around and hurt someone else. Today, I talk to God when I wake up, and all day, really! I meditate each morning, read, and binge podcasts that will help me grow. I invest in coaches and mentors when I feel led. I have no desire to stay the same, or unhealed! I cannot help anyone if I do.
5) Do the things you’re scared of. The bigger the discomfort and anxiety you have around a goal, the more important its potential is! You have gifts and messages stowed inside you that only you can deliver and fulfill. Someone somewhere out there is praying and wishing that someone like you would arrive into their life somehow. Don’t withhold your gifts because of fear. I’ll never forget a message I received from someone a few months ago. She told me that in a recent “story” I’d posted on Instagram, I’d said something that resonated so deeply with her that she was on the verge of tears. I remember being slow to post that story because it was personal and not dog-related. I’m so glad I did, and it was a reminder to keep talking and sharing — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We need each other.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
”Do what is right, not what is easy.” Roy T. Bennett
I’ve taken the “easy” or “fun” route many, many times in my life. I enjoyed it for a while, but it never lasted. One clear example is how I handled Pugsley at the beginning of our journey. The easy way to “handle” it was to do, well, nothing! I eventually learned (after recovering from self-inflicted heartache and pain, time and again) that doing the right thing will have lasting, profound results.However, this quote has an even deeper meaning for me now. I’ve been with my husband for almost nine years. I’ve watched him go to incredible lengths and walk through hell and back, to fight for his children. I don’t believe many would have survived his journey, mentally, or physically. I have the utmost respect for him, because he is the epitome of doing what is right, not what is easy. I also believe that the universe matches our energy and actions, and what we put into the world. If we’re doing something manipulative, to cut corners, to get out of responsibility, to screw someone over, or anything that isn’t RIGHT…you can expect that same energy to come back to you in some form. It is always worth it to stay in integrity, and the rewards are abundant. How you do anything is how you do everything. Okay, that’s two quotes for you.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
What a fun question! I have adored Sir Patrick Stewart for many years, from his Star Trek days to lending his voice-acting comedy to American Dad. When I didn’t think I could love him more, I found out he is a huge pit bull advocate. If you visit his Instagram page @sirpatstew, your heart just might melt while you watch him read his favorite sonnets to his rescue pit bull.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My children’s book series is available on Amazon: /www.amazon.com/s?k=a+tale+of+two+pitties&crid=3AZTGRPQI3E36&sprefix=a+tale+of+%2Caps%2C189&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_7_10
The Titles, in order are: A Tale of Two Pitties, When Hurley Met Chewy, Hurley Goes to Heaven, The Heart-Nosed Healer, and Pugsley Goes to School.
My pit bull advocacy platforms are on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube: @aTaleOf2Pitties. There you’ll find not only cute dog photos, but eighty percent of my content is hilarious and ridiculous skits I do with my dogs.
My personal/actor platforms on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok can be found @ActressDianneScott.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Thank you so much for having me!