Gianna Simone was not deterred by great challenges in her life, including many difficult years in the Foster Care system. She persevered and built a career in acting, with some of her credits including Star Trek Into DarknessI Can Only Imagine, Garry Marshall’s last film Mother's Day, and Unbroken: Path To Redemption. But Gianna's life goal is to bring hope, healing and growth opportunities to individuals broken by abuse and neglect throughout the world. She serves as a mentor for a level 12 residential facility in the Los Angeles area, Maryvale, and also serves as a board member of The Plantrician Project. Gianna mentors youth in foster homes, works to stop the scourge of sex trafficking has spoken at the United Nations on behalf of her foundation, which provides scholarships to Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide. In this episode, Gianna shares the life lesson that allowed her to persevere.

The Lesson That Changed My Life

Gianna: I slept with my knife nearby every night, my cell phone under my pillow, and it dawned on me that I have no right to feel bad for myself.

So I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. When I was a child, it wasn't filled with child things and it was filled with a lot of confusion and in pain and heartache and growing up really fast.

Around 14 years old, I was put into the foster care system. At this time in my life, I was getting straight A's in high school. I was doing really well but my life at home was crazy. One night, things went very south. I was arrested. So they took me out of my home and I was placed in foster care and it was hell on Earth. And I jumped around from home to home and didn't know if I was gonna get raped and didn't know if I was gonna have to fight for my life. Eventually, placed in a Girls Home and this home had six other girls and they were tough cookies, let me tell you. There was one girl who actually became a really good friend of mine. She had a slice from her lip to her ear. And I remember sitting there in the kitchen and I had my feet up on the chair and the chairs were covered with plastic. One girl was like, "Hey, take your feet down." I was like, "Oh man, it's gonna go down. I'm gonna have to fight for my life every day. This is gonna get exhausting."

I'm realizing coming out of that, of course, life gets better. Of course, things are gonna get better and I think they get better in a way where we have to know what we want, know that we deserve better, not settle for abuse. Once you don't settle for that, you could be taken into a path like I was taken into foster care. But eventually, that was my way of saying, "I'm not going to be mistreated anymore. I'm not going to live in a setting that I don't feel loved, I don't feel appreciated, and I'm not being taken care of in a proper way."

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