What Would YOU Do?
What would you do if you stumbled upon a YouTube video declaring you the “World’s Ugliest Woman”? And what if it already had 4 million hits and thousands of horrible, insulting comments, including death wishes? What would you do?
Would you give up? Give in?
Or would you do this: Give all.
A Brave Heart, The Lizzie Velasquez Story, the powerful film account of one woman’s triumph over cyber bullying to become a motivational speaker and champion for anti-bullying legislation, debuts on March 14, at the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival (SXSW), in Austin Texas. (Since it was first held in 1987, SXSW has grown from a music event with 700 registrants to an interactive film, technology and music event with 51,000 registrants. Click here for more on SXSW.)
Lizzie, the tiny 58 pound unlikely hero, was born with a rare syndrome that prevents her from ever gaining weight. She stepped into the limelight with her 13 minute December 2013 TEDx talk in which she confessed her struggle against bullies since the first day of Kindergarten. With humor and grace, Lizzie motivates with her glass-is-always-half-full attitude. “I might get sick a lot, but I have really nice hair.” On the topic of being able to eat anything she wants without ever gaining an ounce: “Yes, it does sound as good as it is.”
Asking the telling question: “What defines you?” Lizzie’s TEDx talk traces her journey to answer that question for herself. After finding the YouTube video calling her the “World’s Ugliest Woman,” Lizzie allowed herself a good cry, and then made the life-changing decision to become a motivational speaker, with a fire she says was lit by all the negativity she had faced up until that point:
“You are the one that decides what defines you.”
With the goal of providing Lizzie with an even bigger platform than the one provided by the TEDx segment – (TEDx rules limit speakers to 18 minutes, for starters) – Director/Producer Sara Bordo set out to finance a documentary about the inimitable Lizzie Velasquez. In the summer of 2014, Bordo’s Kickstarter campaign raised $214,930 – enough to fully fund the “Lizzie Project” which ultimately became the film, A Brave Heart.
Lizzie says all the bad has become “something I would never ever change in a million years,” promising to use her now expanded platform to campaign for federal anti-bullying legislation, and garner attention for an issue she believes still receives far too little respect and attention in the media today:
Bullying victim? Not even close.
Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive and best-selling author. In 2009, she left her 13-year litigation career to write and advocate for working women, later joining the executive team of the award-winning website, Hybrid Her (named byForbesWoman as a “Top Website for Women” in 2010 and 2011). Through her work at Hybrid Her, and as Vice President, Community & Content, for its later re-brand, ShopFunder, Amy worked closely with hundreds of creative and inspiring entrepreneurs and fundraisers, writing and marketing their stories to new audiences.
In October 2014, Amy transitioned to full-time writer, with the publication of her first novel,Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) which debuted as an Amazon best-seller (Romance/Fantasy and Romance/Time Travel). Oprah’s very first Book Club Selection author andNew York Times #1 Best-Selling Author, Jacquelyn Mitchard, has called Lemongrass Hope a “fine and fresh thing – a truly new story.” Lemongrass Hope was featured by Library Journal andForeword Reviews Magazine, and has been a favorite with Book Clubs and numerous Book Bloggers (including as the #1 favorite reviewed selection in 2014 by The Literary Connoisseur).
Amy’s first non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), is due out this Spring. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, ABA Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, Skirt! Magazine, among more.