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Tips From The Top: One On One With Annalynne McCord

I spoke to actress Annalynne McCord about her journey and her best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and what you have learned from your journey to date. First things first, though, what is something about you that your fans don’t know?

Annalynne: Something about me that my fans don’t know…? I tend to be an open book. In recent years, I did a personal essay on my life. But, in recent months, memories from my early childhood have surfaced. So of course, in true “AnnaLynne fashion” I chose to share my journey. I guess what people may not know is the philosophy behind my actions. I don’t like that our world “keeps to themselves.” Safety comes from unity. Healing comes from unity. The truest of human experiences come from unity. Until we share with others and have others share with us we will miss out on possibilities of deep connection that we may have never imagined. Some of the most uniquely profound moments I’ve experienced were with… wait for it… some of my Uber drivers. It’s crazy, but I realized when I am open others feel safe to be open, too.

Adam: What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your development and success?

Annalynne: At one point, I was on a show and during my hiatus I was cleared for a job. I had completed all but one week of filming on the project when I was informed by the producers who cleared me that I was “no longer cleared” and that I would have to come in for a table read and makeup test. More than being upset about the potential loss for my project, I was really bothered because of the principle of the matter. I do not make promises I cannot keep. I demand the same amount of respect in my professional life. I chose to rebel against the threats being made regarding my alleged “breach of contract.” Ultimately, I was able to do both projects because I stood up for myself. I learned the power of living by an individualized personal code and enforcing it no matter the costs. This belief has continued to earn me respect throughout my career. I also learned to set a precedence early in the process of beginning a new project. That way no one even has an opportunity to question where I stand.

Adam: In your experience, what are the common qualities among those who have been able to enjoy success in the entertainment industry?

Annalynne: Remaining down to earth. Keeping the ego out of things. Caring about the craft oppose to the BS that can come with being in the public eye. Finding outlets to use the incredible platforms being an artist can provide. Using those outlets to create a sense of meaning that helps keep one sane while having the added benefit of helping others.

Adam: What are the best lessons you have learned through your career in entertainment that are applicable to those who will never earn a living in front of or behind the camera?

Annalynne: There are so many things that I’ve learned, but there is an exercise from Ivana Chubbuck (author of the Power of the Actor) which made me feel that every human should take at least one acting class in their life. The author has you use visualization to return to a time when you felt unsafe during childhood or your early life. She asks you to imagine yourself at your current age walking into the scenario, scooping up your ‘little self’ and rescuing him/her from whatever the situation was. She then encourages the reader to console, soothe and show protection and support to that little one in the way that you needed back then. It is an EXTREMELY powerful exercise which has healed me in so many ways. I draw from it a lot.

Adam: Who are some of the best leaders you have been around and what have you learned from them?

Annalynne: Somaly Mam, the founder of my organization, together1heart, is a survivor of human-trafficking, sexualized violence, domestic abuse and pretty much every horrible thing you can imagine. In the mid 90’s she began working to rescue girls from the very brothels in which she experienced such abuses. And, to date, she has recused over 7,000 girls. I like to say, “7,001.” Because she rescued me, too… in so many ways. Not everyone gets the chance to call their hero their best friend. I feel very lucky to have such a mentor. From her I have learned to give a hand UP not a hand OUT. She does not coddle. She inspires, encourages and demands that her survivors stand on their own two feet, and because of her we can do that.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Annalynne: Somaly always tells me, “When you hold onto anger against others it is like holding fire in your hand. You get burned.” She says, “I am an ocean. I cannot be burned.”

Adam: What is something you have witnessed up-close or experienced that would shock fans?

Annalynne: Once, my older sister, Angel and I were with Somaly in Cambodia at a LIVE Holiday Concert in support of our charity. Four men came in different entrances, one of whom sat next to Somaly and brandished his gun threatening her. We all had to be escorted out by security. We ended up in different vehicles. That night made me realize the gravity of the path Somaly has chosen. Her rescue operations hurt a business that makes billions of dollars per year. This puts a target on her head. Did I mention that she is my hero?

Adam: Who have been the biggest influences in your life and why?

Annalynne: Somaly Mam for all of the reasons previously stated and Angelina Jolie. Both have seen darkness and strive daily to choose light. Beginning in early-life, both have seen some of the worst that the world has to offer and chosen to give back the best of what they can give. Both are tireless women who use radical, unorthodox and powerfully profound methods because evoking change holds higher importance than whether or not the masses agree.

It was a serendipitous moment for me when I discovered that “Ms. Jolie” (as they call her in Cambodia) had written an article in Time Magazine about Somaly. This solidified my adoration and utmost respect for the woman who has become mother to so many though she admits that she never believed she’d be a good mom (a belief I’ve carried my entire life due to fears surrounding my early childhood trauma). I hope to have become half the women these heroes of mine by the time my time here on this earth is through.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Annalynne: Traveling is my biggest hobby. I will jump on a plane to anywhere at anytime. It has allowed me to experience so much of the world, so many cultures and different ways of life. It has given me a huge appreciation for the freedoms I have simply due to being born in the United States. It has also shown me that because I have such freedoms I can take other ways of life and tailor them to fit me and my individual outlook.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Annalynne: If you save or change for the better even one life, your entire life is worth having been lived.

Adam: Is there is anything else would you like to share?

Annalynne: I strongly value the freedom of choice. There are so many brands and forms of branding out there these days. But, to me, the ones who make the choice to use platforms or product in a socially conscious way hold a special place in my heart. I’m thankful not only to the Thoughtfully Initiative for choosing to support together1heart but for being a role model against a backdrop of “capitalism at all costs.” Capitalism and giving back are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand. The one grows the other while the other provides a sense of meaning for the one.

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