Why and How Author Makaila Nichols Decided To Change Our World

When I’m done speaking at events or at schools, I always take time to interact with the crowd. People will line up to take a photo with me, have something signed or tell me their story. That’s what matters to me most. It’s the kids that wait until the very end of the crowd and come […]

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When I’m done speaking at events or at schools, I always take time to interact with the crowd. People will line up to take a photo with me, have something signed or tell me their story. That’s what matters to me most. It’s the kids that wait until the very end of the crowd and come to me sobbing. It’s the kids that open up to me and express how they too have been bullied or have thought about ending their life — it’s the kids who resonate with my story so much that they trust me enough to be there for them and remind them that they are not alone.

As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Makaila Nichols.

At age 22, Makaila Nichols is a best-selling author of “Blatantly Honest: Normal Teen, Abnormal Life.” In her book, she shares her personal struggles with issues teens may encounter such as: bullying, body image, sexual assault, peer pressure and more. To meet the needs of her younger audience, she has also created two children’s coloring books focused on anti-bullying and positive body image: “Buddies Don’t Bully” and “Every Body is Beautiful.” Thanks to generous sponsors from Central Florida, Makaila and her sponsors have donated over 10,000 coloring books to over 18 elementary schools.

To reach an even larger audience, Makaila has developed a YouTube & podcast channel that focuses on changing the stigmas behind teen social issues. She is able to accomplish this by chatting with celebrities, influencers and experts about their own struggles and triumphs. Makaila also shares her story in person. She travels the country to speak to elementary, middle and high school students about bullying, body image, sexual assault, mental health and suicide prevention. Aside from working with the youth, she also hosts events to provide insight for parents, teachers, organizations and more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

I’m originally from Buffalo, NY but have lived in Orlando, FL for the majority of my life. I went to a private preparatory school in Windermere and I had an incredible upbringing thanks to my mom and dad. When I was 14, I began my career in modeling and acting. I was traveling between New York City and Los Angeles while trying to finish high school (was great for me but not an ideal high school experience). At 18, I became a best-selling author and that propelled me into speaking engagements across the country. I also wrote two coloring books to reach a younger audience, entitled “Buddies Don’t Bully” and “Every Body is Beautiful.” I graduated from the University of Central Florida in Spring 2020 (Covid-19 time) and dove right in to building a 501c3 foundation. Now, I juggle appearances, the foundation, a podcast series, and I still model for ethical brands. I’d love to get back into acting as well.

You are currently leading a social impact organization. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

Our culture has become so ego-centric, it feels like everyone has forgotten how to treat one another. The Blatantly Honest Foundation aims to change the social stigmas associated with bullying, peer pressure, mental health, and other social issues and ultimately prevent them before they occur.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

When people look at me, they never assume I was bullied, and I think that’s part of the problem. I remember going to school feeling so desperate to fit in but never did. I was bullied by peers and some of my teachers. I was sexually assaulted by another student and I felt like I tried to make friends with every clique, only to be rejected in the end. I knew what it felt like to be alone because I was alone. I was bullied because I was taller than my classmates. I was losing weight to go after my dream of being a successful model, so I’d have food thrown at me and the hurtful comments, rumors and hate followed me home thanks to social media. I couldn’t escape it. After going through all these things, I thought about ending my life but I realized by doing that, I’d let them win and well, that just couldn’t happen. Nor did I want my parents to go through that pain.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

During my 22 years of life, I have had two “Aha moments.” The first is when I decided to write my book. I felt so utterly and completely alone because of the obstacles I was facing. I realized the power that lies within sharing your story. In a time where I felt powerless, I decided to become powerful.

My second “Aha moment” came to me when someone said, “Well Makaila, why don’t you just start a foundation?” and I looked them in the eyes and said, “You know what? You’re right.” There have been too many lives lost to bullying and mental health struggles, in that moment I decided I would do everything in my power to prevent just that. There are so many incredible organizations that attempt to eradicate bullying and other social issues, but none of them are approached in the way that I approached mine. I have youth on my side and because of that, I am able to relate on a deeper level.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

Starting a foundation is like having a child (or at least what I’d imagine having a kid would be like); it occupies your entire life. The first step was finding my passion and I found that at an early age. I think that’s what many young people struggle with when it comes to starting something new, because finding your passion can occur at various life stages. That was the easy part for me. Then came the research and a lot of studying, because with a 501C3, there are a lot of legalities. Soon after, I began the application process and assembled an incredible strong board of directors and advisors. The rest pretty much happened organically because it was already the route I was going down, I just didn’t realize it at the moment.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

When people say the world is small, they really mean it. I was speaking at a local Rotary Club and someone came up to me afterward and said, “You need to meet someone (which I have learned is a common response).” But what happened next utterly blows my mind. The person whom I was supposed to meet was the Co-founder of a well-known brand called Ketel One. He had been doing some anti-bullying programs locally but wanted it to grow to new levels and at the age of 80 years old, he realized he needed the help of someone younger. He graciously donated two space contracts to the Blatantly Honest Foundation. In 2021, we are taking part in a moon mission. I never imagined I would be doing this but here we are. We are sending thousands of photos via microSD card that will be placed in a Peregrine Lander which will touch down on the surface of the moon. Now, no one can look down at victims of bullying again.

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

I haven’t made a funny mistake when it comes to the foundation (at least not yet) but what comes to mind is my first commercial audition — I butchered it. It was for a football commercial and I had to know different football terms and the only one I remembered for my two-minute audition was the word “offsides.” So, I pretty much yelled that for two minutes straight, really aggressively. Needless to say, I didn’t book the job. I still cringe thinking about it. What I learned though, is that it is helpful to know a little bit about various topics, even if you think you don’t need to, because life is full of curveballs. At least now, I can say I’m extremely invested in football, go Bills! And if the people who have this awful audition tape of me see this, please feel free to post it because people need a laugh.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

My parents. I would not be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for them. They’ve always encouraged me to go after my dreams, no matter how big they may seem, and they are the most attentive and caring people that I have ever met. My dad is just like me and is a full fledged entrepreneur but he always has enough time for me — whether it’s coming to my events, staying up late putting together ideas to discuss with me, or helping me word “big girl emails.” He has never let me down. My mom keeps me grounded. She isn’t much of a businesswoman but embodies what it means to embrace joy and have fun. After a long day, we will dance in Florida’s daily rain showers, make buttons for kids, or just laugh about life. Between the both of them, I have the best role models one could ever have.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

When I’m done speaking at events or at schools, I always take time to interact with the crowd. People will line up to take a photo with me, have something signed or tell me their story. That’s what matters to me most. It’s the kids that wait until the very end of the crowd and come to me sobbing. It’s the kids that open up to me and express how they too have been bullied or have thought about ending their life — it’s the kids who resonate with my story so much that they trust me enough to be there for them and remind them that they are not alone.

One of these kids (pictured above), let’s just call him “Paul” to protect his identity, did just that. He originally walked up for a photo but burst into tears. I asked him to wait around awhile so we could talk after. My father escorted him to the bleachers where I told him I’d meet him in a little while. When everyone else had finally left the room, I got to sit down with him. Paul opened up to me about how he felt like an outcast, how he was picked on and that he felt he was a disappointment to his family and had thought about ending his life. We sat and cried together for about ten minutes. He then thanked me for taking time to speak with him because my presentation reminded him that he wasn’t alone. I gave him my number (which I normally don’t do) in case he needed anything at all or someone to talk to. I then alerted the school counselor about my interaction with a student, and they made me aware that he was well looked after.

As I got back to my hotel room, I had a text come through and this was what he sent to to me:

“I feel more comfortable expressing myself now because you came and talked to me. I’m very grateful that you decided to even come to our school. You gave me hope that someone cares for me. Your story touched my heart because I have been in the same situation as you. You made me realize that my insecurities are not as big of a deal as I think they are. I’ve prayed and prayed for help and God answered my prayers, Thank you.”

To this very day, even during COVID-19, I still receive messages like his.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

  1. Stop pretending there isn’t a problem and adopt a curriculum that will relate to the kids.
  2. Take mental health seriously.
  3. Be kind to one another and practice what you preach.

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. Learn when to stop. There comes a point in the day when you just have to stop and unplug. I would be hunched over my computer until like 12 am just to start working at 7 am. Do yourself a favor and do not be that person.
  2. Take time for yourself. Even though you work for yourself, remember that you are able to take a break. Go outside and go for a walk because otherwise, the stress will catch up.
  3. Remember why you’re doing it. Sometimes workdays get really stressful but then I have to sit down and read the messages I’ve received and look at the faces of the people I’ve helped and suddenly it all becomes worth it again.
  4. Time is REALLY valuable. Use the calendar app on your iPhone, I just figured out how to use it this past year and man it’s lit up like a Christmas tree which means other people must have the same busy calendar. It shows so much respect to stick to windows and value people’s time.
  5. Celebrate the little things. Every day isn’t a good day but when you’re so busy going 100 mph forward, you forget to look back. Take time to celebrate the little accomplishments because life is full of them.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

We all have a story, let yours be heard.

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. 🙂

I would love to sit down with Reese Witherspoon. She embodies what it means to be a strong woman.

It is really impressive to see someone who was bullied overcome adversity and blossom into a household name. When she started “Hello Sunshine” in 2016, I wrote a letter to her for a film idea. Ironically, it was about my story because there’s never been a show to tackle the many issues that young girls experience. Not only does Reese produce powerful films and stories, she is also changing what it means to be a woman in film.

I would love to get to know Elon Musk. There are not many women power players in the space industry, and I want to change that. I think with the correlation my foundation has with the space industry, I not only bring youth to an industry dominated by older men, but also bring an ambitious and young female perspective.

How can our readers follow you online?

If you’re looking for a new weekly podcast check out “Blatantly Honest with Makaila Nichols” on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services.

Follow my personal channels on

Instagram: @makailanichols

Facebook: Makaila Nichols Page

Website: www.makailanichols.com

To keep up to date with the Foundation and the moon mission

Instagram: @blatantlyhonestfoundation

Facebook: Blatantly Honest Foundation

Twitter: @BHFCorporation

Website: www.blatantlyhonest.org

To sign up for the moon mission visit: https://moonmission.capturelife.com/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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