One day, I came across an amazing woman when searching for bold individuals to feature on Project BE Bold. My hope was to discover a being that couldn’t resist but follow his or her inner voice/passion in an effort to make the world a better place. My search led me to the Website of Christine Schwab. A pioneer in the TV makeover world, she has worked to inspire people seeking a new lease on life via Live with Regis and Kelly, Oprah, Entertainment Tonight, the CBS Early Show, and more.
In her recent book Take Me Home from the Oscars: Arthritis, Television, Fashion, and Me, Schwab shares the harrowing discovery that she had developed Rheumatoid Arthritis and the events that shaped her life up to that point. Her heartfelt and inspired book reveals the fighter within who has dared to inspire others to live their dreams and overcome their limitations.
I hope the following Q & A session will inspire your heart. Please pass this interview on to anyone you may think will benefit from Christine’s wisdom and inspiration:
1. What were your earliest recollections as a child and how have they helped shape you as an adult? Being boarded in foster homes. I think the insecurity of my life then turned into the impetus to succeed, as I became an adult. I always wanted a better life and was determined to work hard to achieve it.
2. When did you know that you wanted to be a part of the entertainment world? I didn’t. I started out working part time doing makeup and became interested in the entire package of a person. I opened a day spa where we took that entire person into consideration, hair, skin care, clothes, make up, exercise, and diet. It was very successful and ground breaking. We got a lot of media attention, one form being TV and somehow it came naturally to me and I just clicked. After seven years running the spa and doing TV to promote it, I sold the spa and decided to give TV a run as a full time career.
3. How did you get your first career break? It really came through press for the salon. As the buzz increased, TV came. My first show was a morning show in LA with Regis Philbin. I worked for 25 years with Regis on national TV. It was a great match. I also learned to think on my feet working with him, which came in really handy for live TV.
4. What is the boldest thing you ever have done within your career? Give up my salon and go for TV. It was so scary and unknown. Up to then I had only appeared on TV to promote my salon. The decision to just work in TV was bold and many said foolish, and yet it worked and I loved it. Not managing 60 people anymore, just putting together segments was so much more creative for me.
5. What were the first signs that you had Rheumatoid Arthritis? My feet started bothering me when I was in New York doing a week of makeovers for Live. I thought I had just overdone it on the treadmill but as the week progressed, my pain became worse and moved up to my knees.
6. How did the diagnosis affect you mental well being in the beginning? It floored me. And I returned to my childhood method of denial in order to keep my career going. I knew I would lose my career if the word got out and so I made sure it didn’t…for twenty years. And the denial helped me to cope. I refused to read any books on arthritis, refused to talk about it except to my doctor. I lived in the same fantasy-land that enabled me to survive my childhood.
7. When did you come to the conclusion that you could make a difference for others with Rheumatoid Arthritis? It came to me. I never set out to be an advocate. But the story was brewing inside my head and I finally put it down on paper. When it sold to a publisher, I knew my secret would be out. I contacted the national arthritis foundation and the rest was history. As I started speaking out, the feedback encouraged me to speak louder. The reason I didn’t come out was because of the negative connotation about arthritis. I became determined to change that stigma.
8. For others diagnosed with arthritis, what advice can you provide on staying strong and gaining appropriate treatment? Be aggressive in finding a good, progressive doctor. Someone who gets you. I dedicated my book to my doctor at UCLA because he got me and kept me moving forward with promises of new medications coming in the research pipeline. He never gave up on hope or on me.
9. What is Christine’s Kids and how can others get involved? Christine’s Kids is one of my Facebook pages. I started it because in the beginning I never knew that kids got arthritis too. I thought, like most people that it was a disease of the old and disabled. Not so. When I started meeting these kids and their families I was shocked. Their plight is so difficult. These kids fight daily for their childhood. I wanted to create more awareness for them and let the world know that this disease knows no age boundaries. Each week I feature another child on Christine’s kids. They are superheroes to me. Others can help by coming to my Facebook page and clicking on “like” and then sharing it with friends. The more people we reach, the more awareness we achieve. The link to christine’s kids is http://ow.ly/8huwf
10. What advice can you give to those seeking strength in today’s world? I would encourage anyone who had any adversity in their life to read my book Take Me Home from the Oscars. It is honest and insightful, and mostly offers hope. I had to overcome adversity. I know it can be done. Otherwise you let the adversity win, and that is just not acceptable. How do we best harness our bold selves? You have to believe in yourself. Whatever it takes, for me it was education. Learning to be a writer, learning to deal in business. And of course working in television gave me great confidence. Don’t settle, keep growing and improving. We are never finished, there is always more to learn and do in life.
11. Please share your favorite quote(s) of all time…
“Thoroughbreds wear blinders and they run their own race.”
This quote has gotten me through so many tough times. I have willed myself to just get out my blinders and keep going forward!
Thank you Christine for your inspiration and willingness to share! For more information on Christine, please visit www.ChristineSchwab.com.
– Post By Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold