We all know what it feels like to be the new girl, the weird girl, the awkward girl, or the girl who is just a little shy until you get to know what an awesome fabulista she is. We also know that not all girls are quick to embrace each others' uniqueness, sometimes resulting in negative behavior. And we know when that happens, nobody wins. Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul are stepping in to change that dynamic with Kind Campaign, a global movement, documentary, and school program rooted in the simple, yet life-altering, notion that KINDness is the change agent required to heal the pejorative effects of "girl-against-girl" antagonism. Launched in 2009, Kind Campaign grew out of Molly and Lauren's mutual concern for the way they saw girls treating one another as well as their own experiences with female bullying. A documentary about this growing issue was created, miles were covered as the two women brought their powerful call to awareness and action to schools in America, and lives began to change for the better. Four short years later, Kind Campaign shows no signs of slowing down. "One of my personal goals," says Lauren, "is to see Kind curricula in every school across the country." Given their unyielding efforts, that might be a reality sooner than Lauren might imagine. When Molly and Lauren aren't on the road visiting schools, meeting with young girls, and bringing their tools and mighty message to communities across the country, these two inspiring social entrepreneurs can be found spending meaningful time with friends and family, indulging in really great wine, or (literally) feeding their mutual passion for amazing food from new restaurants.
Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul, the faces of Kind Campaign. Image courtesy of Molly Thompson and Lauren Paul
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would those words be?
Molly Thompson: Compassionate, Fun-loving, Ambitious
Lauren Paul: Empathetic. Adventurous. In love.
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
Molly Thompson: My mom ROCKS. She's been an inspiration to me ever since I was a little girl. The heart that she has for others truly amazes me and I am constantly in awe of the genuine love that she has towards every person in her life.
Lauren Paul: I have managed to surround myself with a group of strong, compassionate, beautiful female friends who inspire and support me daily. It would be impossible to name just one so I will say my core group of girl friends ROCK and are my ROCK.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
Molly Thompson: Oh my, where to start. Kind Campaign is a dream that has been realized. I don't think either one of us truly knew the journey that Kind Campaign would take us on. We are constantly dreaming up new goals and ideas within Kind Campaign, but also outside of Kind Campaign. Ever since I was little, I've dreamed about being an actress; in fact, that's what I majored in at Pepperdine, but then started down a different path that lead me here with Kind Campaign. There are so many ideas constantly running in my head about passions that I have for different areas of my life, which is exciting and constantly keeps me on my toes.
Lauren Paul: To continue to expand Kind Campaign into thousands of more schools around the world, to get behind the camera again and make another doc, to travel the world and experience as many different cultures as possible and to be the best wife, friend, daughter, sister and one day mom I can be.
What are you most proud of?
Molly Thompson: The lives that have been changed because of the impact of Kind Campaign. I am most proud of the girl's who have had the courage to apologize to other people for things that they have said and done in their lives. Also, the stories and feedback that we hear after a school or community has hosted a Kind Campaign event, it truly brings tears to my eyes to hear how people react to the film or the assembly.
Lauren Paul: I am proud of my family and how loving and supportive they are. I am proud of my relationship with my husband. I am proud of Finding Kind and the process I went through editing for 10 months as well as it being my first time Directing. I am immensely proud Kind Campaign and the endless hours Molly and I have put in to creating and evolving our organization and all the projects within it. To see Kind Campaign change girls’ lives is something that fulfills me in a way nothing else does.
What piece of advice changed your life?
Molly Thompson: Be Kind. That may not sound like advice, but I use that as my guiding light every single day. It's incredible to see how those two simple words can affect the way that you treat yourself and others. It also makes you stop and think before you say or do something that you would have otherwise not thought twice about.
Lauren Paul: I don't know that there is a specific piece of advice that changed my life. I have been surrounded by wise and profound people who have all offered important advice during different chapters. I would say something that I live by is the constant reminder that every human has a story and has a struggle. To be compassionate and kind because you have no idea what someone is going through.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Molly Thompson: No idea. I stopped trying to project how my life would turn out. That doesn't mean I don't have goals or dreams, but life throws you curve balls. If you try and plan everything out, you could end up disappointed or a nervous wreck that things aren't necessarily turning out the way that you expected. But really, that's life, and that's okay, you just have to roll with it. So I guess that's where I see myself in 10 years, I hope I am still rolling with what life throws at me. And with that, regardless of where I am or what I am doing, I hope Chris and I have little babies running around at that point.
Lauren Paul: Well...that would make me 36. Wow...me at 36. I see myself happy and at great peace. I see Aaron and me with a couple of kiddies if we are lucky enough to have them one day. Probably living somewhere around LA and hopefully running Kind Campaign still. I would like to think KC will exist in some form forever. I would love to see myself with a couple more documentaries under my belt in 10 years as well.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
Molly Thompson: That one will make you stop and think. There's so many things and experiences that one can have in their lifetime, which would make it extremely hard to narrow down one that tops all of the others. So I guess I would say, the number one item on my bucket list that I hope to do and continue to do throughout my life is to always have compassion and love for people. I've been so blessed to have so many life-changing experiences thus far, but none of those would matter if I were doing them by myself or if I wasn't able to put them in perspective and love on the people around me.
Lauren Paul: I feel so fortunate to be able to live a life that enables me to have deep and meaningful experiences as well as crazy and fun adventures with incredible human beings. I take each day at a time and I feel so thankful for what I have and will experience. With that said, I think starting a family later down the line when the time is right sounds pretty awesome.
Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?
Molly Thompson: Well, I mentioned my mom earlier or else I would hands-down say her (and my Meme who helped shape my mom into the woman that she is). But, other than her, it would be Lauren. Lauren has literally changed the course of my life in the most amazing way. Together we have created something that drives me to be kinder, work harder, and dream bigger than ever before.
Lauren Paul: My mom. She's such a strong, beautiful, intelligent, compassionate woman who loves being a mom and raised her kids to love and accept others, to be open minded and to always be grateful for each day. She has always been an amazing friend to to women around her. I have never heard her talk badly about another woman and I think her example showed me at a very young age how important it is to see woman as allies. Debra Parsekian is just amazing in every way.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
Molly Thompson: At the time, I didn't know that I was necessarily taking a risk, but rather I was following my heart. Looking back, now I see that the biggest risk I've taken is probably diving in head first to create Kind Campaign. Something was pulling at my heartstrings and I listened and went for it. From doing so, I've learned that when you're pulled so strongly and passionately in a direction, FOLLOW IT. No matter what. You will encounter roadblocks along the way, but work through them and in the end you will look around and realize that your heart guided you to where you truly were supposed to be.
Lauren Paul: The biggest risk I have ever taken was not taking my college degree and securing myself into a 9 to 5 job or something with a definite future. Instead I chose to start something and jump into a project that we had to find a lot of answers to and work extremely hard to get off the ground. There was no guarantee that Kind Campaign would flourish but almost five years later, I consider myself overwhelmingly blessed because of my ability to be a part of some thing that encourages girls to think, starts dialogue and creates healing. I learned that you can make ANY dream you have a reality if you are persistent and determined.
Why are you THAT GIRL?
Molly Thompson: Everyone is THAT GIRL in their own way. I think that my way is that I've done my very best and tried my hardest at accomplishing my dreams. By doing so, I've been able to be a part of something that is so much bigger than I am. Ultimately, I think I am THAT GIRL because I've been a piece in a much larger puzzle of working to create healthy female friendships and relationships.
Lauren Paul: Because I CHOSE to be THAT GIRL. We all have a choice to use our talents, our hearts, and our time on this earth to try and create change. Being kind is a choice and by making that choice you encourage others to follow suite. Every female is capable of being THAT GIRL.
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor