I’m here to share what I’ve been up to and most recently, I just finished a speaking tour with Voices of Meningitis while working alongside with the beautiful and talented, actress and singer, Lucy Hale. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the privilege to work with Voices of Meningitis for a couple of years now. Voices of Meningitis, or more commonly referred as “Voices,” is a working campaign brought by National Association of School Nurses and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur with the high and drive initiatives on meningococcal disease prevention. Something I highly believe in due to my experience with the disease myself. I don’t want anyone to go through, what I did. The campaign involved shooting a Public Service Announcement (PSA) with Lucy and travel to four cities (New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Portland) with Sally Schoessler from the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). A couple months prior, the campaign launched a national a cappella competition called “Boost the Booster” where high school students were challenged to sing a fun medley to live the best day of their life as a way to speak on the importance of protecting against meningococcal disease. On the campaign trail, Lucy and I were placed as ambassadors and judged the winning a cappella group. That group then performs in the PSA with Lucy and I that come out this summer. I remember hearing this idea pitched to me over the phone and affirmatively said, “I love it!”
Voices reached out to me earlier in the year and before I knew it, I was on set for the PSA in Los Angeles. My mother and I were picked up from the airport and headed directly to the set! It was going to be a long day for me since I took an early flight from New York with the expectancy of working into the wee hours of the night. The production was set on a high school (where 90210 is filmed), which was actually taking place that day and would literally see students walking around as the PSA was being conducted. I had the comfortable experience of having my own trailer and wardrobe to choose from! The selection was vast which surprised me because it’s for a PSA, but hey, everyone likes options, right!? I met with the whole Public Relations crew, director, makeup artist, wardrobe stylist, and then of course Lucy. As I walked in to her trailer, I was excited to meet someone that’s in the public eye and has a huge following of loyal fans, like her. Of course, she’s welcoming, joyful, beautiful, but more excitingly, she was very interested in meeting me. I actually saw very similar personalities between us when we first met. We’re both relaxed and open minded, while we also have a hint of sarcasm. Haha. We communicated before and this was our first time meeting in-person. It was an honor to meet and to work with her. I’m so appreciative of her being apart of the PSA; the majority of her fans are teens, which is the exact demographic we are trying to reach for meningitis awareness. The campaign is not only to raise awareness but also to make sure people know that barely 30% of teens getting the first vaccine at ages 11-12 are getting their booster at ages 16-17 before entering college. Like me, I did not receive that booster vaccine and now I live with those consequences everyday.
That production day went smoothly. After finding shoes and the right outfit (handpicked by director), I was in the gym reiterating my lines in front of a camera with a whole stage crew behind it. I’m talking 30-45 people on set, each one of them having a very important role… even my mother. Then I, the advocate, was on set with Lucy, the professional actor. I felt confident but after our first few lines on camera were exchanged, I saw that I lacked in acting. Haha. Duh! It came to me, “I’ve never done this before.” I didn’t get nervous or anything like that, but I definitely did put a little more pressure on myself to do what I can at the best of my ability. After a couple of takes, Lucy finally stumbled! I thought to myself, “yes! She has flaws. “ And surprisingly felt more comfortable after that? In the end, I guess that’s normal to like someone who has flaws because it shows that people are human. Obviously she’s human, I could tell when we first met! But after seeing that she can mess up, I felt more comfortable and was able to produce something more efficient for the camera. And of course, that might have been her only time tripping over some words. Besides that, it was a lovely time working with everyone, and fun to see how all of that production is done and later on completed.
A week or so later, I was meeting Lucy and the Public Relations crew in New York City at the hotel for a day of interviews. As the interviews came in, I became compelled to hear Lucy’s responses to questions because interviewing can be an art form. Knowing how to say certain answers without getting in trouble, how to get to a specific statement, make sure to get all of the key notes across and heard, etc. And she nailed it all, but I was more so compelled because people were also asking questions about the show Pretty Little Liars that she plays on. Unfortunately, I had never watched the show but definitely have heard of it. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to watch an episode later that night. Now if you don’t know “PLL,” it’s a mystery teen drama centered around high school and all the drama that it comes with it. I had never been in a situation to meet a famous actor or singer (not seeing or hearing what they’ve done), and then watch their work after meeting him or her. Lucy was my first. In the first episode, Lucy makes out with a cute guy, whom she then later finds out he is her new high school teacher. #drama. My reaction was surprising because I felt surprised/uncomfortable to see my new friend make out in front of me. Definitely bizarre, but she definitely did do a good job. Great make out Luce! Haha. Anyways, back to the earlier that day. We had a dozen interviews that day and then traveled to a local high school to see the a cappella group perform with Lucy and their own pieces of music. This routine itinerary would happen in each city throughout May-June. It was great to see each school and how everything is run there, but it was another thing to see everyone awe after Lucy. I mean, she is incredibly talented and I am just so happy to have shared that important platform with her. The overall experience was truly inventive and inspiring. Everyone apart of the team was great to work with, and it’s now so great to see the end product: The PSA! Check it out below to see the powerful Public Service Announcement on meningitis that I was part of with the wonderful Lucy Hale.
Go to the Photos page to see more pictures from the campaign tour or click here.