Interview & Article by Zara Rawoof
There’s always that one friend with the most insane, unhinged stories. The one who rushes into brunch fifteen minutes late because “the craziest thing just happened” to them. No matter who that person is in your life, their experiences are not as crazy as Gabrielle Stone’s. And you can hear all about them in her two books: “Eat, Pray, #FML” and “The Ridiculous Misadventures of a Single Girl." Without giving too much away, Stone’s life was changed forever when she found out her husband was cheating on her with a nineteen-year-old—but not in the way you’d think. One whirlwind romance with Javier—the chosen name for her lover within the confines of her novel’s pages—and a solo trip to Europe later, Stone’s memoir had basically written itself. While her personal experiences, (finding out a significant other has been having an affair with a nineteen-year-old, getting broken up with two days before a flight, and then proceeding to board said flight solo), may not always be relatable, her stories have universal messages at their cores. Themes of betrayal, healing, newfound freedom, and independence touch the hearts of every reader. Beyond the work that shares her life story, Gabrielle Stone is an actor, producer, podcast host, and director. Stone shared what she’s learned during her tumultuous journey and sat down for a conversation with Nfm Magazine.
Acting is in Stone’s blood. Raised by Dee Wallace, (known for her role as the mother in E.T.), and Christopher Stone before his passing, Stone grew up surrounded by acting. “I did my first film when I was 18, and I remember walking off set the first day never wanting to do anything else again. I think acting will always have a special, special place in my heart and I’ll always continue to do projects that I'm called to do.” The multi-hyphenate adds that, lately, she has been leaning more towards directing and producing, preferring the control that working in those positions allows her to have. Directing short films such as “After Emma” and the very fitting video call-based horror short “Stay Home” in 2020, Stone has gotten to experience a different side of the entertainment industry.“There's very little control that you have as an actor, and being able to cast the film, hire the different department heads, and have a little more control of how the set was run as a director and producer was really great.”
Knowing what it’s like to feel less in control as an actor makes Stone a more empowering director to her cast. She makes sure that conversations are being held to guarantee comfort onset. “[I like being] really communicative as a director to the actor and giving them their freedom to really bring what they want to the role… because that's why we hired them in the first place!”
While the same amount of effort is put into whatever she is working on, Stone has been able to establish where the similarities in all of her crafts end. “I think there are elements of myself that go across all the platforms, things that I excelled at in acting that helped me in writing, or things that I excel at in my writing that help me in my directing. But as far as like the actual work itself, they're separate. When I'm directing a film, that's like my main focus and everything's poured into that. I compartmentalize each different thing.” When it comes to dedicating so much of her life to work, Stone admits that she has struggled to find time for herself. “The balance thing has always been really hard for me, especially now with the books and the fanbase that came from the books. I get a massive amount of DMs on social media and I feel very strongly to read and respond to them. The people that read the books took such a journey with me that's so personal that they send me a lot of personal messages because they feel so connected to me and I love that, but it can be challenging at times.”
Stone was able to take advantage of the mental stress the pandemic caused and finally took some well-earned breaks. “There were times at the beginning of the pandemic where I was not feeling it. Everyone was like, ‘This is your time, write that screenplay, that book!’ I was like, ‘We're going through a global pandemic… I don't really feel that f*cking creative right now.’”
Being in the public eye in either the entertainment industry or the publishing world means receiving your fair share of criticism. Writing books and working on films means twice the amount of backlash. While Stone was used to being critiqued for her on-screen performances, receiving hateful online comments about experiences she went through was an adjustment. “I've read comments saying, ‘It must be nice to have the money to jet off to Europe’ because I chose not to write the book about how I was broke after my divorce and sold my wedding ring for five grand and that's how much that trip costs. People are always gonna judge and I think that you just have to come from a place of authenticity. It's never easy to get those negative comments on social media when videos blow up. It’s always a challenge to check yourself and say, ‘Okay, I know this has nothing to do with me. This is about the other person's experience.’ It's a weird thing as a human to navigate that.”
Stone is the first to admit that she’s still finding her footing when it comes to mastering her many crafts, no matter how experienced she comes off in her work. She is now helping her readers make the best of their situations with her self-help journal “F*ck Off, I’m Healing.” No matter what the actor-director-author-producer-podcast host is creating, there is a strong authenticity infused into all of her work. Every book or podcast episode is undeniable Gabrielle Stone. To come out of life’s most challenging experiences a stronger person is an accomplishment itself, but to capture an audience of millions while recounting those experiences with two books, a journal, and a podcast is astounding. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” has been said a countless amount of times, but Stone brings the statement to life, personifying it in a way that makes it easier to grasp. “I've always believed that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes you can't see it in the moment. But even when Javier was like, ‘I have to go by myself,’ I still thought, ‘Well, Gabrielle, you've had a fear of abandonment since you were a little girl and your dad died. That's plagued you your whole life. So the universe is creating a scenario where you're going to go across the world to be by yourself and figure that shit out.’” Her philosophy has never failed her. When things become too knotted to untangle by herself, Stone always comes back to her faith in the universe. “Sometimes you can't see it in the moment. I've gone through things now recently where, in the thick of it, I don't understand what the bigger meaning is and sometimes it takes a little while to get those lessons to then look back and be like, ‘Oh, I get it. I get why it had to happen like that.’ That's always been my light at the end of the tunnel. When everything seems pitch f*cking black.”