“When I was young, my hopes and dreams were that one day I would have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” shares Nicole. She grew up in Portland, Oregon where her dream of success started when she was six. Although the market was small in Portland, she began appearing in publications, ads, magazines, billboards, and even television commercials. By the time she was 12, she had her own checking account. After several years of modeling locally she was ready to make it big in the modeling world. At 16 she moved to Hollywood with her family and plunged headfirst into the task of becoming an “it” girl. High school was tough for Nicole because she didn’t know anyone. The students were different too; they had designer clothes and fancy cars and social circles she could not break in to. She was often made fun of by other students and called derogatory names. She met a Christian girl named Christina who made her feel like she belonged. Although Nicole did not have the same faith driven principles as Christina, they got along well. “Although I was still in high school, I partied with well-known actors, who had an all-access pass to the hottest clubs, and mingled with the see-and-be-seen celebrities,” shares Nicole. Christina would often tell Nicole about Jesus and remind her she was praying for Nicole. They went their separate ways after high school but never lost touch.
After graduation, Nicole signed with a small agency and began modeling to pay the bills. She saw firsthand, how the ‘famous’ people were ruining their lives with drugs and excessive partying. Nicole even knew some who died as a result of their extreme lifestyles. “The glamour, glitz and the lights had a dark side that terrified me,” reveals Nicole. As a swimsuit and lingerie model, Nicole would often leave a photo shoot feeling stripped of her dignity, like something wasn’t right. Every time a camera was focused on her she didn’t feel prepared or pretty enough. The pressure of trying to be perfect on camera sent Nicole into a deep depression at 23. “I felt helpless and foolish that had I allowed myself to get into this position. With no college degree and no alternate plan for my life, I knew I had made a huge mistake. I didn’t know where to go,” shares Nicole. She turned to every self-help book available but nothing worked. In 2010, during this time her beloved grandfather died. His death forced her to start thinking more about eternity.
Every night she would look up into the stars and pray for a miracle. She asked God for guidance to lift her out of the horrible situation she was in. The summer after her grandfather died Nicole gave her life to Christ, and started going to church with Christina. She began working hard at getting healthy by taking better care of her body by eating well and getting good rest. She enrolled in school and began getting good grades. “I fed my spirit most of all by reading the Bible and praying a lot.”
As Nicole searched for a new purpose for her life, she began journaling. “When I look back now, I see the seed of Project Inspired there in my journal as a dream for the future,” reveals Nicole. She wanted to create a place Christian girls could go to and discuss everything that was important in their lives. She thought the Internet was lacking a place where teen girls could learn more about God and discuss boys and other teen issues like bullying, fashion, and friends from a Christian perspective. Nicole wanted to help young girls understand their worth is in God and that He has a perfect purpose for their life. Nicole started an online community for Christian teen girls called www.ProjectInspired.com. The site gets over 650,000 visits each month. Today she is helping other young women avoid some of the same mistakes she has made. Nicole says, “I wish there had been a place like that when I was struggling, because I really had nowhere to turn during that time.” She feels Christianity needs to be redefined for young girls. “There is a certain stereotype of how a Christian girl should look, dress and act. I want to show young women that you can be a good Christian and still embrace many parts of the popular culture,” shares Nicole.
EMBRACING YOUR TRUE SELF
Nicole now realizes that everything she went through was for a bigger purpose. She says, “I now see the kind of hold that Hollywood’s harmful message had on me since the time I was a young girl.” This influence led her to make decisions in her late teens that she now regrets. She now understands that the body is a temple and young girls and women for instance shouldn’t have sex so easily. Girls often look to sex to feel loved but in the hands of the wrong guy it can destroy self-esteem. Nicole became infatuated with the fame game – it all looked so glamorous – but in the end it was quite the opposite. “I’m not saying everyone in Hollywood is bad,” shares Nicole. In fact, the Hollywood experience helped her to look at what she really wanted for herself. “My mistakes were part of my journey and my value system has completely changed as a result of it. I found Christianity and it turned my life around,” says Nicole.
She cautions young women to be aware of how the media impacts their self-esteem. Every day we are infatuated with photoshopped pictures of celebrities, models and advertisements. Many television shows and movies portray a woman’s worth in only being attractive and getting the guy. When in reality, a woman’s true worth comes from the Savior. The media does not emphasize having great character and good morals. As a result, many times women try to keep up with all the false images portrayed in the media instead of trying to have a heart for God.