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Fueled By ‘Mental Toughness, Former NFL Player Roy Hall Jr.Turns to Motivational Speaking

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Roy Hall, Jr., a former NFL player with the Lions, Saints, and Colts painfully accepted that after four years in the NFL, he had to move on. In 2007, Hall’s rookie season came to a rough ending after a violent head-to-head collision during a routine kickoff, with Cedric Killings of the Houston Texans. “I ended up with a third-degree shoulder separation, and Cedric unfortunately suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck,” Hall shared in a previous interview with Disrupt Magazine.

While Killings went on to retire, Hall had a different, challenging pathway ahead of him on his journey towards recovery, which began in 2008. “I had a knee scope and had complications that kept me out for 12 games, followed by a microfracture surgery the following year, which forced me to miss the entire season,” he told Big Time Daily.

In 2010, Hall was released by the Saints after tearing muscles in his hip, ultimately ending his professional career in the NFL. “For three seasons, I watched how people reacted when I told them I was hurt, or exposed teams to my injury history. I watched how players reacted to their own rehab,” noticing how some worked extremely hard, while others were trapped in depression.

“Life is 10-percent what happens to you, and 90-percent of how you respond to it,” Hall told Big Time Daily. “There are things in life that happen in which you have no control over, but what you can control is your response when things don’t go your way. When adversity strikes, if you respond the right way, adversity can give you an advantage. Some people call it a chip on your shoulder. I just think it gives you stronger shoulders to hold up more weight that’s trying to push you down.”

Hall, an Ohio-native and the co-founder and Executive Director of the Driven Foundation, now spends his time taking those tough lessons and translating them for a corporate audience to help companies of all sizes across the country motivate and train their people.

“Today’s climate has really inspired me to do my best to be a light,” he emphasized. “Tough conversations have to be had. Tough meetings need to be had.  Companies across the country bring me in to speak to their employees and executive teams about diversity and inclusion, and provide perspective. They hire me to motivate and inspire – translating the toughest lessons from my football career to drive employees in a corporate environment. I’m more inspired than ever to speak and train professionals to just be better people.”

Hall revealed that during his time in the NFL, the organization taught him “how to leverage [his] platform for something greater than [himself],” turning to motivational speaking and community empowerment. The former NFL player regularly speaks in cities like Las Vegas with a room full of professionals.

“I’m the middle man. I’m the connector. I introduce privilege to poverty. I get people to serve that have more to give than most. What you have can either be taken away, or given away. It’s much better to give than to have something taken from you. Purpose is service.”

And that service continues to flow into his community.  Hall started the Driven Foundation back in 2008 with his former Ohio State teammate, Antonio Smith, to provide families with basic needs to combat poverty and promote independence.

Over the last 12 years, Hall and Smith have distributed over 1.25 million pounds of free food to over 9,000 Ohio families. They have also created their own leadership and character building curriculum, called Youth Leadership, which is another component to the Driven Foundation. The curriculum is tailored to students in 5th-12th grade, where both Hall and Smith work with over 30 middle-schools and high-schools throughout Ohio.

“Each year we also distribute over 500 backpacks filled with school supplies, while donating 100 winter coats to students in need. Whatever we didn’t have as kids, we do our best to lighten that load for families in Ohio.”

Hall’s favorite topics as part of the Youth Leadership curriculum are those that involve “improving your attitude so that you feel like a winner every day” and “how to respond maturely when things don’t go your way.”

“…these are lessons that they can not only use to help them academically but will help them for the rest of their lives. Having former NFL players and local executives take on the roles as ‘coaches’ for these students is huge. Not only are they getting the information, but they are hearing from people that have done or are doing what their dreams are.”

To Hall’s point, individuals must be trained on how to respond to different situations, specifically when it comes to responding to challenges that aren’t always expected.

“For perspective there are 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States and 40,521 nonprofits in just Ohio! The organizations doing the good in communities and for humanity are all competing against one another. However, Hall’s belief is that “…giving to others is how you get ahead. It’s also how you give people opportunities for them to get back on their feet.”

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Lifestyle

Sick of Always Being the Sidekick: Actress Mahima Saigal hopes to create work that uproots stereotypes and reclaims the Hero’s Journey for people of color.

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  1. Why did you decide to pursue acting and how did you know that New York City was where you wanted to be?

To be completely honest with you, I had zero clue what my “thing” was when I was in an all girls Catholic school in Delhi. Everyone around me was either winning extempore rounds, school debates or getting the lead role in our annual Christmas play without auditioning. I clearly wasn’t the most academically gifted student and in a class that had over 175 girls in it, I wasn’t the most conspicuous as well. I believe it was this fear of invisibility, of being excluded that led me to go all in for this acting opportunity where I had to play the role of a tortured kid in a street play. At that time my resume was just limited to my height which, I am pleased to inform, remains intact at 4’11. I think that’s what got me the role!That play struck a chord deep within. Whether it was the energy of doing live theatre or seeing some semblance of respect in my teachers’ eyes- I don’t know, but I wanted more of it. While the experience of acting in school helped me improve my confidence and surprisingly, my grades as well, I was still insecure about my choice to pursue acting professionally. In university, I went ahead with a safe option of pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in History and refused to join the Drama Society. Primarily because I didn’t know if I could do it. So what did I do to face this fear? I moved to a whole new continent without even knowing why. Perhaps it was my unmitigated love for (censored) Sex and the City or the need to have bagels as my staple breakfast diet. Who knows? But what I did know was that I needed a chance to experiment with my craft, to find out if I could really do it, and to quote Jay-Z ``If you make it here you can make it anywhere” Right? It’s funny that my fear of invisibility which pushed me towards acting, drew me to a city where being visible is one of the toughest things to accomplish.

  1. What lessons have you learnt thus far as an artist on American soil? And how do they show up in your work?

One must always be true to their own identity and embrace it rather than run from it. While the odds may be stacked up against you, it is more empowering to stick with what you know, than to submerge yourself into what “they” want. Real talk, “they” truly don’t care about you so you might as well go ahead and do what you love and add some masala to it while you’re at it. This lesson holds not just for my work but for my personal life as well. So many times I’ve been asked to repeat myself because people had issues with my accent. I don’t say issues “understanding” my accent but just issues with it. It seems there is a very specific cadence of tone or voice that is deemed acceptable or worthy of response when it comes to the English language in America. I would love my work to challenge that, to show that people who sound like me, who mix English with their mother tongue are capable of telling narratives that are gripping, valid and worthy of viewership.

  1. How do you hope that your presence on the stage or on the screen, even behind the scenes as a writer, producer,  will inspire young creators who are also coming in trying to engage in the same process as you?

A network, that I shouldn’t name (yet), was looking for a South Asian actress with an accent obviously, and they needed them to speak in one of the South Asian languages. I did get the chance to tape myself and improvise in my native tongue. However, on the day of the submission I was told that the network  will not be accepting someone on a work visa. This is the fifth time this has happened to me. While all this is great fodder for my grand ‘thank you’ speech that I would love to make one day, it has also led to this growing confusion that irks me like that one ankle sock that refuses to co-exist with your latest bootie. Confusion because I feel I am in this state of constant unknowing when it comes to TV. I don’t genuinely know whether or not I’m good at it because I’m never allowed to present my work in front of the people who are the gatekeepers of it. But what I do know is that stopping isn’t an option for me. And this isn’t some you can do it motivational spiel that various self proclaimed “gurus”  keep spewing about. I genuinely think that there is a way to pierce this unnecessary barricade that impedes non- citizen artists from presenting their work forward and I truly want to be a part of that movement so that people who look like me or will be in my position five years from now are not as massively confused as I am today.

  1. Do you plan on continuing with production? Is being a producer what’s bringing you the most fulfillment now?

I accepted the role of a producer rather unwillingly as most of the projects that came my way were through my acting network. I deeply appreciated that my network took note of my resourcefulness, but it also hurt that they forgot to take note of the fact that I am an actor first. While these projects were not large scale it still bothered me to watch the paucity of diversity in each one of them. That’s when I decided that if I am to take on the arduous task of being a producer then I better invest and uplift stories that were true to what I knew and understood to be the POC experience in America. I want to ensure that these stories were told right. Keeping that as my throughline, I can most definitely say that producing stories that align with my values and vision has definitely proven to be more fulfilling than I had imagined.

  1. COVID-19 was obviously challenging for the entire world, the entertainment industry included. What were the major takeaways, positive or negative, from that experience?

It’s hard to see Covid-19 under a positive light given what is going on in the global south, especially in my country, India. To see one part of my world  move on at warp speed, effortlessly forgetting the collective trauma and the ache we all felt in the year 2020. While the other part struggles non-stop to obtain even the most basic of medical supplies. It’s one of the toughest contradictions I have to live with. But, it’s also made me more wary of this unacknowledged global divide and how unnerving it can be for someone who has their toes dipped in such extremely different worlds. However, my mother says, one must always look at the bright side. I try with all my might to do so, especially with something as oppressive as Covid. So, no matter how unforgiving it was (still is), Covid did bring to light some of the most heroic stories of our times. The indefatigable spirit of the health care and the essential workers, the acumen of the common people of India who used social media to raise funds for oxygen tanks and supplies when the government abandoned them, the young men and women who risked their lives to donate blood to save the elderly and finally the NGOs that worked relentlessly to provide aid to the smallest of villages.  All these stories show us that some heroes really do exist beyond the cinematic universe of  Marveland they don’t necessarily wear capes or need to have a specific kind of accent or look to be deemed worthy of the Hero’s Journey.

Photographer: 

NICK WHEELEHON PHOTOGRAPHY

IG: @wheelehonphotography

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