In an industry exploding with beautiful faces, it’s no small feat to be the winner of Bravo’s series, “Make Me a Supermodel”. But looks are just the icing on the cake for this multi-talented and modest Chicago native who now calls Los Angeles home. Since, Ronnie has been busy playing leading roles in films, TV appearances, producing shows and has become an advocate and an activist.
Modesty aside, how would you describe yourself?
I’m like my spirit animal, the Bald Eagle — unafraid to fly alone.
Your versatile resume includes modeling, film, television and music. How has being openly gay affected your career?
I imagine it may have closed some doors, but I believe to balance that possibility, it opened some too. When I came out on BRAVO’s “Make Me A Supermodel” in 2008, I wasn’t even thinking about how it would affect my career because I was determined to participate without hiding any part of myself. I have absolutely no regrets about making that decision, especially after reading the heartfelt messages that I received from people all over the world that were inspired to come out after watching the show — Some of them even shared that they made the decision NOT to take their own life and to keep fighting the good fight. Needless to say, after reading those I could barely read the screen because the tears were welling up in my eyes.
How do you reflect on the rapidly growing sexual harassment accusations against movers & shakers in Hollywood? Any personal stories?
It is about time that Hollywood’s most notorious cat be let out of the bag. As my friend Suzanne Whang says, “We are only as sick as our secrets”. Her statement rings most true in the current cases of sexual harassment that are coming to light after being hidden for so long out of fear and shame. Most people are sexual beings, myself included, and we have every right to explore that sexuality with consenting adults — But, and it is a BIG BUT, once someone crosses the line and the advances are no longer welcomed then it is — GAME OVER. One does not get to use their position of power to force someone to do something sexual with them, nor do they get to hide behind the institution that gave them that power when the house of cards comes tumbling down.
I think it is also important to mention that while we should NEVER blame the victim, that people’s lives and reputations are at stake here. All it takes is one accusation, verified or not, and it can ruin an entire career (even if the person is later vindicated publicly). It is imperative that we take each and every accusation seriously, while keeping in mind that that there are some people out there willing to make false accusations for fame, fortune, or some other perceived potential benefit. The individuals that are being accused are innocent until proven guilty and we should do our very best to refrain from making final judgements until all the facts are known.
In short, while we work on taking money out of politics, we must also work on removing the “casting couch” from Hollywood.
Biggest pet peeve?
All the complaining on social media, but especially the kind that has no real intention of being part of and/or offering a solution to that which is being complained about. It drives me nuts and is toxic to my feed and to my day.
How do you handle attention when in public?
I typically welcome it, especially when it is respectful. I don’t believe in self-made people, it takes the love and support of a great many to do anything in this world, especially anything great in the shark-tank that is Hollywood. If someone recognizes me from a film, a tv show, or from my other community work, then it is really more of an honor for me to meet and shake their hand. I truly have some of the most loyal, loving, and supportive fans.
What’s new on your play list?
Anything Tropical House or Ke$ha.
If you know how to properly use “you’re” and “your”, then you already have me breathing hot and heavy.
What’s your favorite charity or cause?
My number one cause right now is supporting Friend Movement’s goal of shifting the conversation from “anti-bullying” to “pro-friendship”. Instead of focusing on the problem, our #FriendFamily is a solution oriented group that encourages people to talk about what “Friendship” really is and how it manifests through our daily words and actions. Most importantly, we support individuals in the community on their path of learning self-care, self-love, and how to be their own best friend. “Bullies are hurt people, hurting people.” In order to stop the cycle of hurt, we cannot demonize the bully. Instead, we must address the bullying behavior, but instead make our primary focus to promote healing and teach healthier behaviors — typically through love, kindness, art, and professional mental health services.
What exciting project do you have coming up?
I’m helping to produce a very special and politically salient film with Emmy Award winning Director, Arthur Seidelman. It will star an Oscar Award winning actress who happens to have been in a film with the same name as a popular party game. Oh and uh, I ain’t one to gossip, so you ain’t heard that from me … and don’t you dare say anything about Ms. Jenkins!
Tell me a secret-a good one.
I’m more wild than mild … in the salsa department.