“Reach out to someone who has been there” With Fotis Georgiadis & Jillian Bullock

Know that whatever addiction you have doesn’t mean you will always be where you are right now. However, it comes down to you and no one can make the decision to get healthy but you. When you’re truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, you will seek the help you need in order […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Know that whatever addiction you have doesn’t mean you will always be where you are right now. However, it comes down to you and no one can make the decision to get healthy but you. When you’re truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, you will seek the help you need in order to start living the life you deserve.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jillian Bullock the CEO/President of Jillian Bullock Enterprises, LLC, an entertainment and film production company based in Pennsylvania. She is also a transformation speaker and certified professional life coach.

While Jillian attended college she worked as a reporter for “The Wall Street Journal.” After graduation with a degree in Communications from La Salle University, she got her start in filmmaking as an intern on Spike Lee’s movie “Malcolm X.” From there, Jillian has worked on her own, and other people’s movies as an actor, writer, producer, director, and fight choreographer. She got that last title due to her extensive background in martial arts and boxing.

Jillian took off from filmmaking for a number of years in order to focus on writing her memoir, “HERE I STAND,” which was published in 2012. The story tells of Jillian’s upbringing with her African-American mother and her white stepfather, who was a member of the Philadelphia Italian Mafia. In 2013, she started getting invites to speak and to share her story of overcoming horrific obstacles, which included homelessness, drug addiction and prostitution, to transform her life and become a successful businesswoman and award winning filmmaker.

Jillian recently completed “A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives,” a feature film that focuses on veterans, PTSD and military sexual assault. The award winning movie will be available on Amazon Video on Demand starting in July 2020. Currently, she is in pre-production on the movie “A Cup Full of Crazy,” a psychological thriller that deals with mental illness.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you describe your childhood for us?

I was one of three children, the youngest. My stepfather, who was white and a member of the Philadelphia Mafia, raised me since I was two. He and I were very close and he taught me things about the Mob that I’m sure I shouldn’t have known. I saw a Mob hit, by my stepfather, when I was nine. Despite his profession, he also loved movies. Every Sunday, he’d take me to see a movie. One day he turned to me and said, “Someday I’m gonna see your name in lights.” His dream was for me to become a filmmaker. At first, I thought he was crazy. This was during the 70’s and I had never seen a black or a woman filmmaker. However, over time his dream became mine.

By the time my stepfather died, when I was 14, my mother had already moved on to a new guy, who was physically abusive. When my mom and her new husband decided to move to Orlando, Florida, it was a difficult time for me. I hated the fact that he beat on my mom every chance he got, but she would never leave him. One day, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I jumped in to stop him from hitting her. At this time I was a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, so I used my marital arts skills, busted his nose. To my surprise my mom got angry at me. She told me to get out and never come back. At 15, I was now homeless and I knew no one.

Can you share with us how were you initially introduced to your addiction? What drew you to the addiction you had?

To survive on the streets, I had to do whatever I could. At night, I’d have to fight off other homeless men who tried to rape me. I got tired of begging for money for something to eat and sleeping in alleyways or on park benches. About a month living on the streets, I got involved with a Madam, who took me in and taught me the ways of how prostitution worked. It was three meals a day, a bed, a shower daily, and a little bit of money for myself. However, I hated what I was doing. One of the other prostitutes told me that alcohol and drugs (crack, which was very new at that time), would help me get through the shame of selling my body for hours each day.

What do you think you were really masking or running from in the first place?

Using drugs was a way to escape and not think about how terrible my life was. I was also depressed because my mother chose a man over me, her own daughter. I also felt bad that I was letting my stepfather down. I remembered, right before he died, he made me promise that I would fulfill his dream and become a filmmaker. I knew if I continued the way I was living I wouldn’t fulfill anything. I would be dead.

Can you share what the lowest point in your addiction and life was?

One night, a police detective, who was a john, beat me up and forced me to have sex with him. He didn’t even pay me. After that, while I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and saw the bruise on my face, I decided life wasn’t worth living. I had a bottle of pills, which I put in my hand. I was about to wash those pills down with alcohol when I saw my stepfather in the mirror. He said, “What happened to our dream?”

Can you tell us the story about how were you able to overcome your addiction?

When I sobered up, I knew I didn’t really see my stepfather in the mirror, but that image helped me decide it was time for me to find a way to get off the streets in order to have a better life, kick drugs, and get back to Philadelphia. It wasn’t a straight path though. I met a guy and moved in with him. I thought that arrangement was better than being a prostitute. The guy was a small time criminal, but he treated me pretty well. It wasn’t long after we met that I became pregnant. Unfortunately, I was still drinking and smoking weed while pregnant. I was still dealing with depression and the fact that now I was going to be a teenage mother. After the father of my baby committed a major crime, he was wanted by the FBI. He decided to go on the run and wanted me to go with him, but that’s not the life I wanted to live, especially being pregnant. I decided it was definitely time for me to get back to Philadelphia.

When I got back, I kicked drugs cold-turkey. At 16, my son, Clinton, was born two months premature due to the drugs I was taking while I was in Orlando. Although I was still a child, now raising a baby, I fought hard to do right by him. I went back to high school and maintained good grades because I knew I wanted to go to college. It was difficult to stay clean. I had no support, no guidance.

How did you reconcile within yourself and to others the pain that addiction caused to you and them?

I did so many things wrong while raising Clinton, and part of that had to do with my addiction. Although I gave up drugs, at times, I still drank alcohol. At this point, I often thought about giving my son up for adoption. I struggled with being a mother. I was so young and inexperienced. I wanted to go out with my friends, party, drink, do drugs, and have sex. I didn’t want the responsibility of being saddled with a child. However, I loved my son. So, when I decided to keep Clinton, I knew I had to do better. I sought therapy to help me deal with my addiction. My therapist diagnosed me with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, due to the experiences I had while on the streets and with my son’s father.

When you stopped your addiction, what did you do to fill in all the newfound time you had?

I decided to stay away from my friends, who were still drinking and doing drugs. After that, I didn’t have much of a social life. I focused on getting good grades in high school and on to college. I knew I had a gift for writing since I was a young girl. I wrote short stories and entered them into contests; some I won. I also studied books on filmmaking and screenwriting. I was still a martial artist, as well. I found a karate school and joined. And of course, I focused on raising my son and trying my best to be a good mother.

What positive habits have you incorporated into your life post addiction to keep you on the right path?

I read self-help books by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Les Brown, and Tony Robbins. Every Sunday, I went to see a movie, not only to study the film, but I thought about the good times I had with my Mafia stepfather. Today, along with being an award winning filmmaker, I’m also a professional life coach, fitness expert, and transformation speaker. Due to my past experiences, I’m in a position to help others transform from a Victim to a Victor.

Can you tell us a story about how your entrepreneurial journey started?

When I graduated from La Salle University in 1991, I got an internship on the set of Spike Lee’s movie “Malcolm X.” After that I worked on other people’s projects to learn the rope of filmmaking. Years later, I started my own film production company. I continued to take courses in screenwriting, directing, and producing. I had two other children, so there was a time when I wasn’t making movies at all. I had to focus on raising them. But when they were 18 years old, and out the house, I decided to get back into filmmaking. I also added fight choreographer to my list of titles. Today, I train in mixed martial arts and boxing, so I write that into my scripts.

What character traits have you transferred from your addiction to your entrepreneurship. Please share both the positive and negative.

As an addict, I still had to be focused and perform to a high degree as a prostitute. I also had to learn how to be a businesswoman. The three rules I learned — No money, no sex. No condom, no sex. No kissing, just sex. In a sense these are the positives, because even at age 15, I had to be a firm businesswoman or I’d be in big trouble with my pimp or the Madam of the motel. As the CEO of my film company when I deal with multiple people on a set, I still have to be a firm businesswoman, not just a creative.

The negative side is I work so hard. I still multi-task doing so much at one time. I find I don’t know how to stop, relax, and take a day off. I feel lost if I just do nothing. In the past six months, I started doing yoga and meditation five days a week. This has helped me a great deal. Now, I take time to be at one with my mind-body and spirit. It helps me be more creative, a better businesswoman, fit and healthy, more relaxed, and at peace. I’ve even started a new business combining the benefits of yoga with body strength exercises called — All Things Sexy.

Why do you think this topic is not discussed enough?

Addiction is still so taboo. Millions of people are addicted to drugs, whether it’s illegal or legal, like prescription medication. People don’t want to talk about it because many times it hits too close to home. With doctors and pharmaceutical companies, they are the ones who push the drugs onto patients in a sense. So they definitely don’t want to talk about addiction. Instead of helping a patient truly heal and not just put a Band-Aid on the illness or a disease, they promote drug use. Pharmaceutical companies, it’s a multi-billion dollar a year business. To say to a patient, let’s treat your condition holistically, let’s get to the root of the problem, whether it’s mental or physical, that would never happen because it would kill the medical industry.

Can you share three pieces of advice that you would give to the entrepreneur who is struggling with some sort of addiction but ashamed to speak about it or get help?

Reach out to someone who has been there, a recovering addict. This person knows what you’re going through and will not judge you; only offer you support, a shoulder to lean, and maybe a little tough love.

Seek out a holistic health and wellness coach. These coaches are trained to address, and heal, the complete person through mind-body-spirit connection.

Know that whatever addiction you have doesn’t mean you will always be where you are right now. However, it comes down to you and no one can make the decision to get healthy but you. When you’re truly sick and tired of being sick and tired, you will seek the help you need in order to start living the life you deserve.

The shame they feel will only get worse if they don’t reach out and get help.

How can our readers follow you on social media?



Thank you so much for your insights. That was really inspiring!

You might also like...


Jillian Bullock: “Get actors and crew to sign contracts before you film anything”

by Edward Sylvan

“I’ve started a movement called Fit 2 Fight 2 Have a Safe Life”

by Yitzi Weiner

“5 things I wish someone told me before I became a CEO” with Jillian Ryan, CEO of Marie Mae Company

by Yitzi Weiner at Authority Magazine
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.