GETTING TO KNOW GIANNA SIMONE

Striking brunette beauty Gianna Simone is as beautiful as she is brave. Overcoming a tough childhood through courage and tenacity, Simone triumphed, finding a place for herself in Hollywood. From roles in Star Trek Into Darkness to God’s Not Dead 2, this talented artist is charting an impressive path, starring in Mother’s Day alongside Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston. We settled in to peel back the layers.

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HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: You had a tough upbringing, bouncing around foster homes in inner city Boston. What was that like for you and how did those experiences shape you?

GIANNA SIMONE: Being put into foster care when I was younger and living through the experiences that put me there, was a big part of my childhood/young adult life. Despite how hard and hopeless it was at times, it shaped me in many ways for the better. Ultimately teaching me empathy and lessons you can only learn from living and experiencing difficult times. I think life experiences are what an actor truly needs to relate to the characters they take on. I think all of those experiences not only shaped me into becoming an actress, but have become a great asset as well.

HM: When did acting come into the picture for you?

GS: I originally had a burning desire to model and only model, but as I got my modeling portfolio done and began shopping it around to agencies, I was rejected many times and was told to act instead. Naturally, this made me push harder and fight for it more, while not wanting to act. Eventually becoming successful in modeling, I ironically fell in love with acting. I realized this when friends and coworkers would tell me I took on characters and projected something from the inside when I was in front of the camera.

HM: First impressions of Hollywood…

GS: I loved it from the moment I stepped foot here. It’s the place I feel I’ve been led, to carry out the things God’s given me the ability to do. I get to be free and be me. I’m thankful.

HM: Who are some performers that have influenced you?

GS: Angelina Jolie has always inspired me, not only as an actress but as a woman who has been through a lot and come out better from it. I relate to that a lot.

HM: Best bit of career advice you’ve gotten…

GS: “Always be the authentic Gianna.”

HM: Best memories working on Star Trek Into Darkness

GS: This make me smile. Every memory on that set was magical. It really was life changing. I would go to set everyday thanking God for such a wonderful time in life, and in the moment I knew it’d be special forever. We would be greeted every morning with a handshake and a smile by the AD Tommy Gormley.

It felt like every day there was something to celebrate. There was even a special musical guest there one day to keep the crew entertained. It was a lot of work, but so much fun. We all became a family. The working title was “The HH project,”, so we call ourselves to this day, “The HH Fam.”

HM: Tell me about working on God’s Not Dead 2 with Melissa Joan Hart. Tell us about the film.

GS: God’s Not Dead 2 is an inspirational story about standing up for what you believe in, even when you may be persecuted for it. It’s about faith, hope, helping others in need, and unselfishly giving. I play Elizabeth Healy, one of the ACLU prosecutors, alongside Ray Wise and Eamonn McCrystal.

We try to get Melissa Joan Hart’s character banned from teaching for talking about her faith, and go toe to toe with her attorney played by Jesse Metcalfe. We definitely play the bad guys; however, the bad guy roles are just as important as the good guy roles, because they are each other’s defining factors. You can’t know light without dark.

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HM: Let’s talk about your latest film, Mother’s Day. First of all, what a cast! You work with Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis to name a few. What was the experience like working with them?

GS: It’s always thrilling to work alongside people who are masters at what they do. When I learn new things and I choose to learn from the best of the best, I can become that. It is this way with acting, as well. When you are around other great talent, it can only bring you up.

HM: The film intertwines different stories of mothers and you play Val, a pregnant, first-time mother navigating her pregnancy and new role in life. Tell me about her.

GS: Val is the character that represents the new beginnings of motherhood in this story. It’s a very special time in a mom’s journey, and I was really honored to bring this character to life. She is also coworkers and close friends with “Kristen” played by Brit Robertson, who plays Julia Robert’s estranged daughter. We are all interconnected, which I really love because it shows on a small scale how we are all from the same place, and thus, all connected to one another in this world.

HM: Do you find that you have to relate to a character in order to play them?

GS: I do, yes. I have to find something in common so I can make it real for me, and in turn make it real for the audience. I also find that in addition to relating to a character, being inspired to play the character is just as important.

HM: What was the vibe like on set?

GS: The vibe on set was very professional, but fun loving at the same time. Everybody showed up, did their job, and the magic happened. It did help that Garry Marshall is one of the sweetest directors on set.  He would walk by and just give me a kiss. THE BEST!

HM: Let’s talk a little style. Who are some of your favorite designers?

GS: Zuhair Murad hands down. For everyday wear, I love Free People.

HM: Three must-have pieces in your closet…

GS: Sunglasses, sneakers, heels… could I have a fourth? Clothes!

HM: If you could raid one celebrity closet, whose would it be?

GS: Lady Gaga.

HM: What do you like to get into when you are off-the-clock?

GS: I do aerial silks several times a week, and I’m learning to play the piano and guitar right now. I also love to relax with friends, family and my dogs whenever I can.

HM: I know giving back is very important to you and you have a foundation, the Gianna Simone Foundation. What causes do you deal with?

GS: In the education area, we work directly with Kigali University in Rwanda, providing college scholarships to survivors of the 1994 genocide. In the area of animal welfare, we work with Wings of Rescue, an organization that flies animals that were going to be killed in shelters, to forever homes and rescue organizations in private airplanes, up and down the west coast in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Canada.

We also work with MaryVale, a foster youth facility in Rosemead, CA. Also, we are just beginning a new venture where we connect foster youth with local farm sanctuaries on special field trips, with compassion being the common theme that unifies all the areas of action.

HM: What’s the master plan?

GS: To make a difference while I’m here on earth; to impact it in as many positive ways as I can and inspire others to do so, as well. Also, to follow the heart and carry out what God’s planted inside all of us.

‘MOTHER’S DAY’ IS IN THEATERS NOW.

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF ANDERSON GROUP PUBLIC RELATIONS

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