I still can’t believe that my path has lead me into a Hands-Only CPR Mobile Tour with the American Heart Association in collaboration with the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to educate people across the nation on a valuable skill that might help save someone’s life one day. I remember I came across the breakdown on Backstage looking for a “Performer Facilitator” role to help teach CPR. I was not thinking much other than I already know CPR and am certified because I work with children in between my set and production life, so why not give it a shot? Little did I know that this fun, educational video audition I submitted would lead me to an incredible opportunity. I had to commit to about 5 weeks on the road, traveling to 22 cities across the East Coast, South and Midwest, which definitely would be a new adventure and commitment for me. However, with my many experiences traveling abroad in other countries, I had a slight inclination that I could handle life on the road.
What a journey this was…exploring amazing parts of the country I never thought I would travel to, meeting beautiful people, trying delicious food and making new friends. I couldn’t have asked for a more humbling, exciting opportunity that I not only got to do what I love as a performer but also as a humanitarian. If I didn’t pursue a career in entertainment, I would have most likely gone into medicine or worked with children. I naturally love to teach and help guide others into light and laughter. This was the perfect mix of two great passions of mine. To be offered the chance to utilize my knowledge and creative talents to help make a difference in the world, was truly special to me.
The constant feedback my tour team and I received from locals and the American Heart representatives was unbelievably heartwarming. They were so grateful to us for putting our heart and soul into every show, bringing such positive warmth and fun to what can be a serious topic. About 350,000 cardiac arrest cases happen in public or in the comfort of people’s homes each year, and unfortunately about 90% of the victims don’t make it due to a lack of an immediate response. Many people are either scared they will do something wrong and potentially hurt the victim, or they just don’t know what to do at all. The American Heart Association has done an amazing job with coordinating such an informative training event that people will never forget and hopefully utilize the new learned skill if they ever find someone having a cardiac arrest. It was shocking to learn that many Americans don’t know that cardiovascular conditions and disorders are the number one leading causes of death in the United States. We need to unite together, educate ourselves and make a commitment to spread the word that CPR Saves Lives!
Please enjoy some snippets of this CPR journey below and if you want to learn more about classes near you and how you can best prepare yourself, visit: Hands Only CPR
We also made it on many local news stations:
WBKO ABC 13 News
KY3 NBC News
We are halfway through the year!!! I seriously can’t believe how fast this year has been flying. When pursuing your dreams every day, adapting constantly to unpredictable obstacles, while also enjoying and having fun along the way, can most definitely make time fly. I am beyond happy and grateful for the many incredible, creative opportunities I have experienced thus far this year and look forward to many more to come! As we come to this halfway mark in 2017, I did some reflecting on all the moving pieces and choices I’ve made for my career, and I’m excited to highlight and share some of the key moments with all of you, who continue to support and believe in me. I trust that these creative goals and milestones will continue to spiral my career in the right direction:
- I just booked an incredible job opportunity to be the main face and performer for the American Heart Association’s Hands-Only CPR Campaign to help educate others on how to give immediate help to an adult who is suffering from cardiac arrest. We hope to save many lives and I will be sharing this journey often on social media during the cross country tour coming this September 2017.
- I officially signed with a new manager, Tiauna Jackson, who represents me across the board. She has already sent me out on some awesome auditions including a Nickelodeon and Google opportunity. Thank you again and I had a blast booking the room! Tiauna has been a supportive coach who challenges and pushes me to be the professional in this industry that I want to be, while encouraging a dedicated, prepared mentality in order to truly enjoy and master my art as an actress and filmmaker. A fun fact, Tiauna and I actually had met before on the Fauk My Life set as she was an Associate Producer on the pilot episode.
- Speaking of Fauk My Life, the series continues to evolve in a successful direction as the pilot continues to gain acceptances and winning awards at numerous film festivals, as well as being shopped around to potential backers to create the rest of the series for audiences to enjoy. We just had a promo shoot with the new talent cast in the series and can’t wait to share more with you soon!
- Having the opportunity to be the lead in a Women In Film PSA and be featured at a showcase event hosted by 72andSunny Productions, who produced the Coors Light Commercial I was in at the beginning of the year. It was such an incredible honor to be in a room filled with female power houses who constantly create and innovate was truly a special highlight of this year.
- The Breaking Legs film I was a featured dancer in officially released on Amazon, ITunes, On Demand and is currently on DVD. Another independent feature film I was featured in The Dark Tapes released on Amazon and ITunes as well.
- My production company Kalliste Zoe Productions continues to push content, one in particular that I produced, assistant directed and acted in called Alleys, which officially premiered at the Downtown Independent Theatre this July 12th. We are also creating new projects including comedic sketches and an independent feature film. Visit my website to connect and stay updated on current projects. Enjoy this behind the scenes video from the premiere event!
There is so much more work to be done this year as there are many personal and business goals that I’d like to still accomplish. I look forward to tackling each new day with love and light while pursuing what my heart desires most. Thank you all for the constant support, as I wouldn’t be making the career progress that I am without you!
Mary Rachel Gardner Professional Website
Women In Film (WIF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting equal opportunities for women, encouraging creative projects by women, and expanding and enhancing portrayals of women in all forms of global media. It was such an honor and pleasure to have had the opportunity to play the lead in their recent Up and Out PSA for A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project, which is dedicated to helping women, families and our communities break the cycle and heal from the formidable experiences of incarceration.
Given that women comprise 50 percent of the population, WIF’s ultimate goal is to see the same gender parity reflected on and off screen. Founded in 1973, WIF focuses on advocacy and education— provides scholarships, grants, and film finishing funds—and works to preserve the legacies of all women working in the entertainment community.
Attending the showcase event for the recent WIF PSA projects was another surreal experience as being in a room filled with so many empowering female leaders in the entertainment industry was truly special. The final PSA featured an original rap by the talented Bre–Z from the hit Fox TV show Empire, which was another great sprinkle to add onto the overall charity cake to create a difference. I also received a reassuring motivation from the many female power houses there that we don’t need to wait or ask for permission to do what we love and create change through the art
Visit Women In Film to learn more about what they do and how to be come a member and A New Way of Life for more information on the Up and Out movement.
Every “New Year”, I designate my reach goals and tangible goals in order to instigate change from old patterns and create new ones. Never did I expect to accomplish one of my “reach” goals this early in the year! I was lucky to have the opportunity to play one of my favorite sports growing up for a Coors Light commercial. Not only did I have an incredible time and meet some amazing, female talents, but I also was respected and generously compensated for my time on set.
This experience made me reflect back on some obstacles I faced in High School, where my multi-talents weren’t as supported and encouraged. I grew up an athlete in addition to my dance background and passion for the Theatre. I played soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis and ran track. I literally lived The High School Musical, except I didn’t have a six pack (aka Zac Efron) and my school did not let you dance on tables whenever you felt like busting out into a song. I was the starting point guard for our varsity basketball team and the female lead, Baker’s Wife, in our musical production of Into the Woods.
I handled what could have been an unpleasant situation with clarity and class, and was able to balance my two passions, Sports and Entertainment, with grace. However, there were many teammates, classmates and teachers who acted as anchors instead of sails to my ship. Subsequently, I made the choice to focus on my performance skills even further for the following show/season to alleviate some of the stress and drama from the last experiment. After several years of being one of my High School’s leading varsity athletes, this was undoubtedly a tough decision for me, but it truly demonstrated my determination to be an artist.
One impact that my accomplishment had on my school and peers, is that many of them realized the limits they have placed on themselves. They soon realized that we often can accomplish much more than we initially think, as long as we are willing to do the work and stretch ourselves. Many of my teachers commented that they were extremely impressed with my choice to break the norm, thus inspired them to encourage and challenge their younger students to expand their talents and not limit themselves.
Being able to step back into my athletic roots while pursuing my dreams in entertainment was truly an unforgettable experience that I hope to continue to foster and create! Thank you to my family, friends and teachers who always believed in me and encouraged me to trust my talents, even if it meant stepping out of my comfort zone. Please enjoy the full commercial below (I am #24 guarding the hero girl in the 3rd, 5th and 6th shots):
Coors Light Commercial
I am beyond excited to finally share the Fauk My Life official trailer for the first season! You can view it by clicking this direct link: Fauk My Life Trailer
Working on this project has truly been an amazing experience and I think audiences all over the world will fall in love with this story about two young women pursuing their athletic dreams as well as figuring out life and discovering the kind of person they want to be. It’s not your stereotypical sports story that focuses on the end goal of getting recruited or drafted at the professional level and making lots of money. It focuses more on the athletes’ journeys to self discovery and inner peace.
For more details and footage, you can enjoy sneak preview footage of the actual Pilot episode on the official website: Fauk My Life
I was recently cast as one of the supporting lead roles in a TV series called Fauk My Life, about a young female athlete trying to figure out the best path for her future; should she choose a man, get married and put her career on hold or should she choose basketball, her true love and pursue a collegiate journey?
I grew up an athlete, playing literally every sport from soccer to volleyball to basketball. Basketball was particularly special to me, so having the opportunity to tap back into my balling days while doing what I a most passionate about, was truly enjoyable. Working on this project has truly been an unforgettable experience and I believe that this show will touch and relate with many audiences around the world. This show taps into themes such as love, sports, interracial relationships and LGBT conflicts.
For more details on the show, visit the website: Fauk My Life
I am excited to announce that I will be performing in two one act plays, My Three Sons, and The Maltese Walter, at the Short + Sweet Hollywood Festival this September 2016. So far it has been a wonderful experience and all my cast members are incredibly talented. Performing in the Stella Adler Theatre will truly be a treat and I hope you can come out to support, as well as indulge in many other entertaining plays!