Real Talk: Troian Bellisario on Giving Back and Her New Film, Feed
While some of us are still crying about the end of Pretty Little Liars, Troian Bellisario has found success, inspiration and strength in her life post-PPL. The actress has dedicated her time to supporting and advocating for the cause, This Bar Saves Life. The organization offers delicious, nutritious bars (her favorite is the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter & Sea Salt) and, for each one sold, donates a packet of life-saving food to a malnourished child in a developing country. That's not all she's been up to. She found the time to also write, produce and star in her latest film, Feed. The film draws inspiration from Troian's own personal journey with an eating disorder.
Foxxtales was lucky enough to have a chance to sit down with Troian and discuss her latest projects, passions and pursuits.
Foxxtales: We heard that you’re friends with Ryan Devlin (actor & co-founder of This Bar Saves Lives) and you’ve really dedicated yourself to advocating for and promoting This Bar Saves Lives. Besides your friendship with Ryan, what inspired you to take action for this particular cause?
Troian: The funny this is, our friendship is probably the least important part of this partnership. I love him, but I think that the mission behind This Bar Saves Lives, the work that they do and the opportunity they present to help people is just so miraculous. Initially, when he came to me, there was no friendship obligation. It was just such an incredible opportunity to work with them that I felt really honored.
Foxxtales: This Bar Saves Lives has adopted a “Buy one, give one” philosophy. It allows anybody to make philanthropy a part of their every day lives. How has philanthropy and giving back become a part of your life - especially being in the public eye?
Troian: I think it’s really a wonderful opportunity, when you're given a platform - whether it's in an interview or your social engagement on Twitter & Instagram. When you're given a platform to reach so many people, you really have - I feel - an intense responsibility or opportunity to consider what you want to put out to the world. It’s wonderful to put out a photograph of your dog. I definitely do it all the time! But, you also have the opportunity to share things so meaningful with other people. I want to show support for my fans; but I also want to point them in the direction of creating an impact and helping people who are in need, who aren’t as fortunate as we are. So, I feel like its a really great opportunity that I’ve been afforded and I want to do as much good with it as I can.
Foxxtales: At Foxxtales, we believe that telling your story is a way of giving back to the community as well. We know that you wrote, produced and starred in your latest film, Feed. Do you feel like sharing your story, through your art or just being candid, is a way for you to give back as well?
Troian: I think that I just wanted to use my platform to inspire others to hopefully seek treatment or support people that may be going through the same illness that I was going through. I think that it was an incredible opportunity, for me, to hopefully give back and inspire other people towards a pathway to help.
Foxxtales: Being that vulernable can be nerve-wracking and scary. How did you overcome those fears to create and write these honest, inspired stories or share your own personal story?
Troian: It wasn't always the easiest thing to do. There were definitely a lot of moments when I questioned what I was doing and why I felt that I needed to do it. I wrote about it, the day before Feed came out. I was having this overwhelming feeling of, “Oh my god! I don't want to do it. I don't want to let this go out to the world.” It's incredibly vulnerable, raw and scary. It’s kinda like, “What have I done?!” But, I also knew that that was a huge part of my journey. My experience with my eating disorder was so much about control, which is narrated through the story of Feed. [You can see] that it’s about trying to exercise control and trying to keep [control] in your life. It’s a way of coping with the fears and anxiety that I have. A really important part of the process for me was, even though I was producing, writing and acting in [Feed], at some point I had to let go and give it out to the world. That’s a part of healing. I hope it’s a part of healing for the people that watch it too.
Foxxtales: Despite the more personal obstacles that you had to overcome to bring Feed to the world, were there any professional obstacles, just being a female writer and producing your own film, that you had to overcome? Or did you feel powerful being a woman in Hollywood and taking control of your career?
Troian: It is incredibly empowering to take so much creative control over a piece of work. I was really proud and grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to do that. But, that’s not to say that I [didn’t] feel the challenges at every turn. In making Feed, there was a lot of fear from some people about putting out a movie about an eating disorder. There was a lot of people that only wanted to approach it from a either a horror film or a thriller perspective. But, I really felt like I could do both. I believed that I could present a genre-bending narrative that could tackle a really important message; but also give people an exciting and challenging ride cinematically.
In making Feed, there were a lot of people that didn’t really get it and didn’t really value [the film]. But, that’s okay. They didn’t need to. I still had to make it. You’re going to experience that in anything that you do, particularly as an artist. You’re going to experience people that say, “I don’t really know what you’re doing. I don’t even know if I support it.” Just say, “That’s okay if you don’t fully understand what I’m doing; but are you either going to get in the way or help me do it?” Ultimately, the fact that[Feed] is out in the world to see and it’s being received in a way that I could’ve only dreamed of - I couldn’t be happier.
Foxxtales: Through your professional work and your personal work, how do you hope to inspire young women and girls that are watching you?
Troian: Particularly through working with This Bar Saves Lives, I hope to inspire them to go out and try one for themselves. If they like it, I want to encourage them to ask their parents to buy them because they could really create an impact. The more that we spread the word about this wonderful, life-saving bar, the better it will be.
For me personally, I hope that I can inspire people to speak out about their own challenges and to believe in themselves a little bit more. A huge part of making this film was to trying to stand on my own two feet and say, “Hey, this is who I am as an artist and this is the kind of story that I want to tell.” It’s also just scary to be a first-time filmmaker. You’re working with a low budget, not a lot of time, and you’re new. There’s a lot of challenges to that. I wanted to show young women that it can be a fruitful journey, if they stand up and believe in themselves.
Foxxtales wants to thank Troian Bellisario and This Bar Saves Lives for contributing to our community.
Want to know more about This Bar Saves Lives? Find more information here.
Interested in Troian's new film, Feed? Check out the trailer for her film in this article.
Are you struggling with an eating disorder? Please contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline or 1-800-931-2237. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.