Rising Star Gigi Gustin: “You no longer need to follow in anyone’s foot steps; You are the footsteps”

I would like to inspire a movement that will inspire the generation after me who want to break into the industry and be actors, writers, filmmakers, or any kind of artists, that they no longer need to follow in anyone’s foot steps. They are the footsteps. Creating your own content is the strongest tool we […]

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I would like to inspire a movement that will inspire the generation after me who want to break into the industry and be actors, writers, filmmakers, or any kind of artists, that they no longer need to follow in anyone’s foot steps. They are the footsteps. Creating your own content is the strongest tool we have. That is the future.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Gigi Gustin.

Gigi is a striking actress, model, award-winning producer, and singer from New Jersey. It was evident early on that Gigi would lead a life dedicated to the performing arts. She was always singing, dancing, and catering her show for the only audience she had. This audience only consisted of her family and friends until she booked her first national commercial for Chuck E. Cheese at age 5, and began starring in plays in front of large audiences at her church. This multi talented starlet is now best known for her time as a competitor, and the eventual winner of John Cena’s show American Grit (S2) on Fox in 2017. Since then, She has continued to gain fame working along side notable actors in film and television.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Gigi! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Igrew up in a small town in New Jersey. I have two siblings, Josh and Josiah, who mean everything to me. I come from a family of artists, which presented challenges as it can be taxing growing up in a house full of creative people who sometimes tend to be unusually sensitive, as sensitive people are unusually creative! We had our share of problems as all families do, but I am so grateful I learned how to channel that energy at an early age, putting it all into performance.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started performing with my brother Josh Gustin in front of large audiences at my church when I was five years old. We saw about 1000 people per show, doing six shows per weekend. In 2001, Josh who was just a year older than me performed in the MAAI Convention, which puts kids in front of international Agents and Casting Directors. He won “Over all child” making him the most sought after talent there. He signed with Shirley Grant Management, now best known for starting the careers of The Jonas Brothers, Christina Ricci, and more. They discovered me at my brothers signing meeting, leading me to book my first national commercial at 6 years old for Chuck E. Cheese. My brother and I continued to gain momentum until personal family circumstances caused a halt. As I got older, I began asking my parents questions about my child-acting career. I have always loved watching movies and often imagined myself in them. When I was brave enough to make an attempt to jump back into it knowing I was basically starting from scratch, I started pitching myself to Modeling and Talent agencies. In NJ, the selection was scarce, although I did sign to a small agency. The first film I did was Girls just wanna have Blood, written and directed by Anthony Catanese. Later that year in 2017, I became a competitor, and the eventual winner of FOX’s show American Grit hosted by John Cena, where I won the grand prize in $250,000. I used the money to move to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career further, and now my story is still being written!

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It’s difficult for me to pin point the most interesting thing that’s happened to me so far in my career, as I never could have predicted, or even imagined some of the things that have happened. However, it is crazy how I see things from my child hood coming into fruition. When I was 12 years old, I watched this film by IFC called The Human Centipede starring Ashlynn Yennie. I remember being scared out of my mind, but some how I was so drawn to the film realizing the power of cinema, being able to make people feel something — anything. How ever, there’s something exciting to me about making me feel scared. Little did I know that years later, when I auditioned for a short film called The Springfield Three, that I was going to get the part, co-starring alongside Ashlynn Yennie.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think the funniest mistake I have ever made was probably as a child in one of the Chuck E. Cheese commercials I did. Myself, along with two other kids were in a hot air balloon in front of a green screen. The director said to us “Big Smiles kids!” so I proceeded to make the most ridiculous over the top smile with my eyes squeezed shut, and cheeks to my ears using every muscle in my face to its full capacity. The director and my mom tried very hard to get me to smile nicely and behave. I ignored all their attempts, was removed from the hot air balloon, and fired. Whoops!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Currently, I am fortunate enough to have my hands in some incredible opportunities. To name a few, I have two award winning short films in the festival circuit that have taken my love for the horror genre to new heights. I am also in the middle of filming ISSAC, a feature film starring Dove Cameron (The Descendants) and RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad). I have a small role in the film, but I am very excited about the project. My brothers are big fans of Breaking Bad, so they were stoked when I told them I was going to be working with Rj. It is always a great feeling when your friends and family are excited about something your doing. My feature film FAST AND FIERCE: DEATH RACE starring DMX, is now available on Apple TV and iTunes, and my very first film Girls just wanna have blood is available to purchase on Amazon.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I definitely think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television. Cinema is an open playing field. It stretches as far as the imagination can go. As an actress, my job is to give a truthful performance that serves the story, so as long as we are truthful to the characters in the story. This is all that should matter.

What are your “3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

3 things I wish someone told me when I first started.

  1. It’s called “Crafty” not “Crafting”. Nobody called me out on my mispronunciation for months…embarrassing..
  2. Those things that people said may hold you back are often the things that actually get you the part.
  3. You have to risk failure sometimes.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

A tip I would give to people just starting out is to have patience. No patience leads to attempted short cuts which often lead to bad decisions which often lead to set backs. You have to have patience and fall in love with the process.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to inspire a movement that will inspire the generation after me who want to break into the industry and be actors, writers, filmmakers, or any kind of artists, that they no longer need to follow in anyone’s foot steps. They are the footsteps. Creating your own content is the strongest tool we have. That is the future.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I get asked this question, two people come to mind. A great friend of mine, Lainy Gold, gave me my start as a model. She is a very talented clothing designer, and she put me in all her fashion shows. I started modeling just to help myself get my foot in the door and start meeting people. She was always looking out for me and introducing me to anyone she knew who was in the television and film industry. When I eventually moved to LA, I met Samuel Gonzalez Jr, an extremely talented filmmaker. I met him because I auditioned for one of his films “The Springfield Three”. I discovered so much about my craft in such a short period of time just from working with him on that project alone. He has introduced me to so many people, and the film has led to many more collaborations with other like-minded filmmakers. We have now completed two shorts together, and I became a producer on both. He is such a visionary — anyone would be so lucky to get to work with him.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have two quotes that I love and do my best to live by. The first one is “The Harder I work, the Luckier I get”. When I’m going through a lull of not booking anything, I remind myself that if I want more, I need to do more. It’s crazy, but even changing my mindset just shifts the energy and good things start happening quickly. The second one is “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity”. So many times I ran up to bat just to realize my shoe was untied, if you know what I mean. You have to show up to practice, that way when you get in the game and you swing, you don’t miss. I have struck out so many times, still do, and still will. However, I’m only counting my wins.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Jim Carrey hands down. He is a huge inspiration to me. He is so unapologetically himself, who in broad stokes does way too much, but believes in himself so much that we all do also. I would love to just sit down and talk with that guy about life.

How can our readers follow you online?

My instagram is @gigigustin

Twitter is @gigigustin0

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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