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by Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis: Good morning, Rob, It’s my pleasure to have you visiting with us all the way from Holland. I’m glad you could make it, and thanks for taking time from your busy schedule.

I’d like our readers to know that I met you through model/award-winning screenwriter Kitania “Kitty” Kavey who starred in our first Dream Reachers book. She recommended you highly, but I must confess, when I started researching you it was your logo that intrigued me. Odd to say, but that orange lizard is rather attractive, in a funky kind of way. (laughs)

But first things first, Rob… To relate to people as you do, a person must have inborn intuition and certain powers of persuasion. Did you recognize any special skills as a child? When did the urge to help people start? Please share some of your early childhood with us. I’m especially curious about what it was like growing up in Holland.

Rob Waterlander: Well, Betty, I am not the typical personal, mental or motivational coach people might expect. My intuitive and empathetic nature is something I was born with and have developed over my lifetime. I have always been a beacon–shining and attracting people who were wondering what direction to go–although initially, I wasn’t aware in full. Looking back, I think things started moving in the direction of guiding people when classmates started asking for guidance, mainly girls sharing their emotions.

I feel I got my extensive class, or University of Life, the first three months of my life. Long story… (laughs)

Being adopted by two of the most loving parents after I was given away has been the key to unlocking my potential for intuitively seeing and feeling people. It helped me to enter the world of helping those in search of more of what they want.

And by the way, Kitty is an amazing person, gifted and so sweet.

In 1996 I started organizing youth sports events for charity: CliniClowns sports events. CC is a foundation that originated in NYC when Patch Adams started to perform as a clown in hospitals, entertaining children with long-term illnesses, sometimes terminal. These sports events put me in contact with professional soccer players and the rest is history; one soccer player referred me to another, etc. And I love it!

By the way, Hunter Doherty “Patch” Adams is one of those special ones on earth. Would love to meet him in real life and have a chat.

As for Holland, my country is probably one of the best countries overall. I grew up in a suburb of Amsterdam, what used to be a little fishermen’s village where I felt safe, being able to play, hang out and develop the “real” me.

Betty Dravis: That’s interesting how CliniClowns started; I recall reading some stories about Patch Adams. I agree with you about him; he had to have been a caring, sensitive man to devote his life to children like that. I sensed when I met you that you were born with this “sensitive” ability, Rob. Thanks for explaining the fascinating details.

This might seem like an odd juxtaposition, but getting back to your logo before I forget: Why did you choose a lizard? And why an orange one…?

Rob Waterlander: I chose the lizard, Betty, because it’s associated with intuition and psyche, balance and sensitivity, helping us to detach from our past what no longer serves us. Detachment from ego, power to regenerate that which is lost, facing fear, controlling dreams, conservation, agility… The lizard is an archetype of adaptation, variation, flexibility and shrewdness. The lizard typifies characteristics that I work on every day within my own life, and it helps teach my clients to realize these same skills in theirs.

Also, the lizard’s stillness and its silence–having the peace and ability to hang-out for hours and hours in the heat of the sun–is something that I can relate to myself. So, as you see, there are various aspects of what the lizard is to me and, therefore, what made me choose it. I listen, absorb in silence, and then intuitively see and feel where the person’s next steps are.

Betty Dravis: Well, I can’t argue with your wise choice, Rob. I once chose the turtle as the logo for a newspaper I owned…because of its patience. But that didn’t last long because my subscribers thought I meant that they were “slow” like the turtle. (laughs)

Rob visits author Betty Dravis in California.

But back to you, after the lizard, the second thing I noticed on your page was your brilliant smile.  It was a pleasure when you visited my home in February to find that the smile is genuine and almost a constant…  I found you to be a truly happy, up-beat guy. In my opinion, only a man who has found his true calling in life can be that happy. But before you get into what you’re doing now, please share a little about the path it took to get from “there to here.”

Rob Waterlander: I am following the path leading to the sanctuary where I want to be, and being on track feels good. I have two lovely souls in my life who are blood related: my children, a son and a daughter. Those two are my link to many things in life that I cherish, given by one of the most remarkable women in my life, the high school sweetheart I married and was married to for almost twenty-one years. I divorced almost ten years ago, although she is someone I am eternally linked to. There is another woman in my life with whom I have found the connection I so want, leading closer to the sanctuary where I love and long to be. I am feeling good… From here, I have everything to offer to people looking for guidance, joy and releasing resistance in life, allowing them to be who they are and enjoying life in full.

Having been in sales for a long time, I learned a lot about myself and people. I enjoyed doing something that brought me success and acknowledgment of me as a professional: advising and selling roofing constructions for new and re-roofing projects with a contract value of up to more than two million dollars per project. One of the projects I did brought me to Richard Meier, the well-known and famous NYC architect.

My intuitive qualities were a valuable asset to work with project teams and buyers within the construction industry and during those years I developed my qualities extensively.

Betty Dravis: I agree, Rob, that being in sales teaches valuable lessons about others. I bet you felt proud and fulfilled when you actually viewed the architectural beauty of the completed construction projects, also.

I saw some recent photos of you with a lovely, dark-haired woman with a smile that matches your own. Is she the new woman that you spoke of above?

Rob with Carly

Rob Waterlander: Yes, Betty, she is felt as my mate in the sanctuary. (smiles) Her name is Carly Couweleers and we were brought together by one of her daughters and two of my best friends.  She is a guide, too—although a bit different from what I do. She is able to see through people at levels going beyond what most of us see, and I can see us working together with people in the future. It is amazing to experience someone to work with who is guided by spiritual guides and is a woman of God, also. That I asked for too…

Betty Dravis: I’m so happy for you both, Rob. Carly does, indeed, sound like a God-send and I can tell by your glowing description that she’s “the one” for you. (laughs) You should make a great, inspiring team. Like-minded, compatible people working together can perform miracles,

When you decided to take a road trip to visit me in Manteca, you were in the States for client meetings in San Francisco, and after you left you had more meetings in the L.A. area. Were those meetings successful and did you manage to help your clients progress in their search for a more meaningful life?

Rob Waterlander: I was in California for a few meetings with people and some workshops in San Francisco and L.A. I am glad I took the time to also drive down to Manteca from the Bay Area before heading to L.A.  Being able to meet up with you, as well as with your friend Johnny, was such a good thing.

You, being a mother, do have the natural drive and joy of wanting to make a difference, but it was Kitty Kavey who told me and still does: “Rob, go to L.A. They need you there.”  Truthfully, Betty, after having lived in San Diego in 2003, going back there has been a good stepping stone. I am glad I decided to say yes to the meetings. Whether the people I met are making the progress they want in their life or not, it is an option I offered to them. As you know, we all have freedom of choice.  I love working with those creative guys and gals…and Malibu is so my area. (smiles) I am certain to go back soon.

Rob poses on a hill overlooking Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Betty Dravis: It’s a great start, Rob, and I’m happy you enjoy working in the States. Speaking of road trips reminds me that you love to travel and have clients in many countries. What countries have you visited and where did you go on your most recent trip?

Rob Waterlander: I love the globe–the playground offered to all of us here in the world. The world is huge, although I think it is nothing compared to what is out there and waiting for us, Betty.  My last travels took me to the Middle East and I will be there soon again. It’s an amazing area… Also I had the chance to spend some time in Venice this summer.

I have been to many places in the world; except for the Far East I have been to almost all continents, although not all over those continents. I would love to see more of Africa and the Middle East. Sydney and San Francisco are my favorite cities. Another part in the world that intrigues me is South America; Venezuela and Bolivia showed me extremes in atmosphere.

My next travel will be to Saudi Arabia and Northern Africa, both for business. Then in 2011, I am also traveling to the USA, both for pleasure and business. Recently, I started to look more into the Dutch Islands, close to Amsterdam, and other than the climate, it is so wonderful.

Awesome shot of Rob in Venice.

Betty Dravis: Wow–all that travel boggles my mind! That’s a mighty ambitious agenda, Rob. You certainly do love to travel, and fortunately, you’re in the right career to be able to do it. (laughs)

I know cruises are a lot of fun, so what’s the funniest or most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you on a cruise?

Rob Waterlander: Wow, Betty…. hahahahaha… I had the chance to go on a cruise with my best friend–thanking him for all the years he gave me so much fun while he was playing in one of the leading soccer leagues in the world, the Premier League in England. We went to Norway and met some wonderful entertainers while on the cruise. He had a not-so-nice experience, which to me was very funny… (laughs) We kayaked in a beautiful fjord and he turned upside down while looking backwards; not so nice for him–losing his camera and phone.  But I will always remember that cruise as precious because I spent quality time with a dear friend who gave me a lot, both he and his wife. Enjoying food and travel with a dear friend is the best!

Rob and his lovely daughter Lisa on cruise to Venice.

Well, kind of funny, too, my son’s luggage not being there when traveling for a cruise departing from Panama and having to shop for new clothes almost every day because each day new promises came our way. Eventually, he had to take part in a formal night and seeing my son actually enjoying being dressed in a tuxedo was worth it. My son said, “The next time, I will probably travel with a plastic bag and an empty suitcase.” Six weeks later, the suitcase re-emerged having been to Miami and all over the Caribbean. (laughs)

And, very sweet was being with my daughter during a formal night seeing her in her evening gown.

Betty Dravis: It’s odd how those embarrassing moments give us laughs years later, isn’t it, Rob? As for your kids in formal attire, I’m posting a photo of you with your lovely daughter in her formal gown. She does, indeed, look so grown up and lovely. I bet your son was very handsome too.

Now, getting back to your career, to sum it up, you are an intuitive motivator, “people whisperer,” inspirer and guide and you work one-on-one with people to help create the life they want. This means working to ensure their independence and helping them discover or rediscover their personal light in order to continue through life’s challenges.

That sounds like a colossal job to me. Do you mind telling us how you begin with an individual? And please share a few success stories.

Rob with his handsome son Sven on a Panama cruise.

Rob Waterlander: Before I answer that, Betty, let me assure you and your readers that my work is not meant to substitute for those who have addictions or conditions that should be treated, but I can work as part of their team to success. All the possibilities are within each individual and I can help them discover the endless joy and happiness that is there.

Light is essential. Many times we try to see the light in our lives, and we can’t. It may seem there is no light… Circumstances and events can overwhelm us. Even well-meaning friends and family can discourage us from living our true purpose. Entertainers and sports stars, in particular, are under tremendous pressure to fulfill the expectations of others around them, often losing themselves and their personal focus in the process.

What I always start with is tuning in on people, feeling and seeing behind the masks we all wear in daily life. I am just silent… I listen and, occasionally ask a question. Listening to what they say and don’t say, figuring out where they are and where they want to go…

Talking about individual people, I would have to give disclosures that most prefer me not to give. In general, I can say this: Entertainers and sportspeople with level-headed spouses who use common sense should stay in close connection with their partners, enabling them to thrive. When they lack support of a good husband/wife or similar, they might, sooner or later, need a person who is able to give support, guiding them through life’s challenges and helping them to focus on what they do so well.

Rob's parents, his children and their mother get together to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday.

Betty Dravis: I understand and respect the privacy of your clients, Rob, so thanks for generalizing for us. I totally agree that a helpful mate is a powerful force and it’s very important to support one another…whether it’s a spouse or a dear friend.

I hear that you specialize in working with people in the entertainment and sports community; professional athletes, musicians, singers, movie actors, artists and other creative talent. Why and how did you manage to narrow the field?

Rob Waterlander: As I said earlier, the sports events helped me connect with sports people and those guys kept referring me to other athletes.

Basically, I have chosen these entertainers and sports people, as well as other creative guys and gals, because I enjoy working with people with that specific state of mind. Driven and at the same time fragile somehow. I think all the attention and “The show must go on” stress levels make people prone to stuff that would stress out anyone. There is just no escape when everybody is expecting a brilliant performance and appearance.

Rob & Carly biking on Vlieland, one of the Dutch Islands.

Betty Dravis: You’re absolutely right about that, Rob. We’ve all seen some of our favorite stars, whether entertainers or athletes, fall apart due to that kind of stress.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that you’re good at what you do and I hope you don’t mind if I share what a few people wrote about you. I’ll start with Kitty Kavey since I know her and she’s mentioned above.

“Intuitive, kind and empathetic to others, Rob Waterlander is an absolute joy and privilege to work with. If you’re in the entertainment or sports industries, he really “gets” the pressures that we have to live up to–not only our own expectations, but the needs and expectations of those around us and the public. He doesn’t preach, or tell you what to do or which plan to follow. Instead he leads each individual to the place within where the answers lie. He gently guides one to what they know, and what they need to know, to not only be successful in career, but also to be able to reconnect with the happiness and peace within. Not only that, but Rob is also an expert in combining the realities of business and marketing (and public relations), with the spiritual/emotional needs of an individual.” – Kitania Kavey, Screenwriter, Actress, Model, The Netherlands/Europe

And the following is from a sports professional in the UK:

“Rob is someone who is empowering and directing. He has the ability of communicating at the right moments, pointing out exactly that part I couldn’t see beyond at that moment. I call it diving in, opening and showing the pregnant space of possibilities… opening doors to what was waiting so close. In a way, I wasn’t initially aware that I was applying aspects of what he said and shared when we interacted. When distracted by people in my daily professional or personal life, it’s easier to feel the patience of knowing whether now, tonight or tomorrow I would exactly see what I needed to see. As an athlete with a focus on performance, once or twice a week having a balanced day-to-day life is essential. Rob is a valued part of keeping focused, knowing that all is well.” – Fabian Wilnis, Professional Footballer, UK

Rob & Carly with friends Juliet and Fabian Wilnis, a professional footballer, UK.

Those are powerful words of praise, Rob. Knowing that you’ve helped those people must be encouraging to you, keeping you inspired and focused on your own dreams and goals. I’ve heard you say, “An interesting question for many coaches supporting people could be ‘who is going to motivate you when the motivator has gone home?’” Please answer that intuitive question for us.

Rob Waterlander: Well, Betty, I feel what works best is when a client is independent, only dependent on their own gained knowledge. When they absolutely know themselves–their hearts, and can listen again to their authentic selves–only then will they be secure and happy. I have made it my life’s work to guide people towards what always has been waiting for them, and once there, I just stay around to fine-tune, watching from a distance as they live thriving and wondrous lives.

Once I have established a level of clearness with my clients, I try to see them twice a year…up to a max of twelve times.

Betty Dravis: That makes perfect sense to me, Rob, and I see that truth working in the Dream Reachers that my co-author Chase Von and I have interviewed. That’s good, solid advice and I can see where we could all use someone like you in our lives—someone who really cares. I saw your gentle guidance when you met my friend John Manha who has multiple sclerosis. You talked with him at length and I saw your compassion and nurturing abilities first-hand. As a strong, determined Vietnam veteran, he’s a good judge of character and he was truly impressed with you and admires your calling. He felt your life flow… Thanks for that and for encouraging him in his personal and business goals.

But we’re nearing the end of this interview, so I’d like to invite you to share your Mission Statement. We’ve discussed everything in the statement, but I think our readers would like it condensed as a refresher.

Christmas at May Pen, Jamaica.

Rob Waterlander: My Mission Statement as stated on my website is: My goal is to guide each person to create for themselves the opportunity to have each of their talents and thoughts tuned in to the direction of that which one has a passion for. I know that if the passion and creative direction of each individual is found and followed, then the physical, mental and financial rewards will flow naturally.

Thank you, Betty, for this chance to get my message across to more people. I sure hope to meet up soon again and have the chance to do another lunch together. Meeting Johnny was felt within… Please say hi to him from me and deliver this message: “I enjoyed talking to you a lot, Johnny. Man, you have an awesome smile.” (laughs)

Betty Dravis: I, too, hope we do lunch again next time you’re in the States, Rob. I certainly enjoy your company. This time I will listen for your “silences” too. (laughs) And I’ll certainly pass on your message to Johnny. He’ll be pleased to know you’re thinking of him.

It’s awesome what you offer your clients, Rob, but I almost forgot to mention that you work with companies too. By now our readers must be eager to learn how to contact you, but before that, tell us a little about your corporate services.

"Horse Whisperer" - Rob has a way with animals too.

Rob Waterlander: I’m glad you remembered, Betty, because that’s a big part of my business. I am available to work with corporate Human Resources Departments and with recruiters and headhunters to help find the right executives for their companies…or the right companies for their clients. In today’s market it is imperative to match the job opening with the right candidate before time and money is invested in a position that doesn’t work out. I assess the needs of both the company and the job seeker to ensure a good fit for both. I walk with them on the beach or we cycle… Any activity is great while figuring out whether the company and the candidate are a match. It is so fun to be with a person who has a dream…and spending a while with a candidate for a job enables me to see whether he really wants it or whether he just wants to survive. I understand it is so much better when a person actually feels excited because the job fits a part of  his dream. And it saves a company loads of money when the new person is the right one.

Betty Dravis: You’re right, Rob! That’s very important in today’s business climate. I have several corporate friends who use services such as you offer. Thanks for expounding on that area of your profession. And now here are some links where people can reach you:

Rob’s Main website:

Other websites:!/robwaterlandercom!/robwaterlander

Before closing, Rob, this might seem silly, but I think it will shed more light on the real you: If you were stranded on a desert island what three things would you take with you?

Rob at Abu-Dhabi.

Rob Waterlander: It’s the island life! Wooo-hoooo… I’m so much an island person, it feels like a present to me. Hahahahaha… This is a good question for me, Betty. Thank you for asking.

Now let me think… What/who I would like to take with me and what I would like to have with me there? I can choose whatever I wish, though only three? Well, that is easy: My children and Carly. And hopefully, there will be available a few jackfruit trees and coconut trees.

I might be pushing a bit now, but if possible, I would like to take my two best friends. I will miss you all, but having my children and Carly will help me to get through. (smiles)

Betty Dravis: Oh-haha, Rob, I guess you would be living on love, coconuts and jackfruit then. I’ve never seen jackfruit, but I read somewhere that it’s the largest fruit in the world and can grow as large as eighty pounds. Well, that’s a lot of food, so you certainly wouldn’t go hungry. (laughs)

I really appreciate your sharing your time and your life with us today. It’s fascinating how you found your true purpose in life. I see the principle of “What goes around comes around” working in your life: Helping others achieve their full potential to live their dream enables you to live your dream.

The cost of your services wasn’t mentioned, but you do work on a sliding scale and are available worldwide, so that’s a big plus in your favor. That said, it’s been fun getting to know you better, and do come back to keep us posted from time to time. As for me, I’ll see you on Facebook, I’m sure. And I know you’re open to answer comments from everyone on Facebook.

Farewell and good luck, Rob…or in your language, Vaarwel and geluk! Please keep us posted on your activities. Oops—I almost forgot to thank you for the bright yellow “wooden shoe” house-slippers you brought me last time.

Homecoming of the Dutch Team

Rob Waterlander: Hehehehe, I see some Dutch here… (smiles)

Well, what I do always makes me feel good and that is the most important thing. Feeling good… What I charge depends on circumstances, indeed. Roughly it varies between 1,000 to 4,000 Euro/US Dollars for working with someone a maximum of two days, and people pay/arrange my travelling and lodging.

Thank you so much, Betty. It was fun to answer your questions. I am grateful because it helped me to go back to joyful moments, especially those in the six years of organizing sports events. It was fun and educational to work with pro-athletes, pro-referees and nine- to ten-year-old soccer players of the major soccer teams in Holland, as well as working with TV and radio teams and those who sponsored the events. I learned a lot… One thing I remember so well is what a general manager of Nike said: “Rob, focus on two things at the same time, max. That allows you to be successful with what you do. Just do it!”

And, I am amazed at you every day, Betty. You are the age of my mom, though you run your blogs, write books and do your interviews… I hope I have the chance to see you again and then I would like you to have some fun in real wooden shoes, instead of the fluffy ones. (laughs)

Thanks again, Betty. Hugs and loving vibes sent your way. xx


Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Marissa. Chase Von, my co-author of Dream Reachers Vol. One, saw you on NextCat and sent you my way. After viewing your videos, reading your resume and seeing your outstanding pictorial portfolio, I’m astonished at all you have done. You not only sing, dance, model and play several instruments, but you’ve also been in movies and on TV. It blows my mind to know you do all that while attending college on a scholarship. Since you’re only nineteen years old, I’m curious to know what age you were when you started performing? Can you tell us a little about your childhood and why your mom named you Autumn?

Marissa Autumn: I started at age three doing a dance commercial for the preschool I attended. I also sang in church at that age; I was an angel. At the age of nine, I did a commercial for the clean waters of Canada and was given free camping tickets for their parks…and clothes saying Canada on them. The principal of my middle school told me I was a great performer and had me perform in every event that took place at the school. That sparked my interest and it was so much fun, I just kept on. By the age of thirteen, I was singing at fairs and performing in plays throughout the state of Michigan. At the age of fourteen, I won a ten-thousand-dollar scholarship for performing a concert at the local fair. It was not a contest; someone in the crowd took an interest and chose me. I was sent to Pittsburgh to train with a famous choreographer from California so I could be in an MTV video with J. Lo (Jennifer Lopez).

It was a hurry-up affair: They called my mother and said they had a scholarship for me, but I had to take it by Wednesday. It was in March and my school was having soccer tryouts. I love soccer, but I chose the scholarship and went to Pittsburgh. It was so exciting. One performance led to another and at sixteen, I did the Super Bowl XL in Detroit and was starting to perform Country/Rock/ Pop concerts in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Iowa.

My modeling career also took off at age fifteen. I started modeling for Nordstroms with the girls from the movie Mean Girls and went on to be the “Gap Girl.” I made arrangements to do a concert for Hurricane Katrina victims, raising $ 20,000 the first hour. I don’t know what the final total was, but was told a lot of money was donated. It was an awesome feeling to know I was helping others.

All the time I was doing this, I also played on a traveling soccer team; performed in the high school band (I play the flute, piano and saxophone); served as varsity cheerleader; and was on the school dance team. I was in the school band for nine years, starting in fourth grade. I was also an honor student, but truthfully, I could not have done any of it without my family’s encouragement and my mom driving me all over the place.

On the domestic front, I also was trained by my mother to make floral arrangements. That is something she does, so she was pleased when I won all kinds of blue ribbons at the local and state fairs and from Women’s National Farm and Garden shows for on-the-spot floral arrangements. But I can NOT make brownies to save me…or cookies. LOL…

My mom said she kept me very busy so I would not have a lot of time to think about the fact that I was adopted. It worked! I was adopted at the age of five weeks and when my adopted mother saw me all she could see was my hair. It had so many different colors of gold, yellow, brown and red that she said she had to put Autumn in my name because my hair looked like autumn leaves piled on top of my tiny head.

Betty Dravis: I see what she meant, Marissa, your hair is gorgeous. But my mouth is hanging open… I read about some of your accomplishments, but never knew the full extent. Thanks for telling us more. You are amazing! Would you share a little about your college life and how you manage to do so much. What is a typical day like for you?

Marissa Autumn: Well, Betty, today is one of the days I am working in Red Dawn. Filming starts at seven-thirty p.m. I got up early, ate breakfast and hurried to get to college by eight; came home for lunch at one; went to work at one-thirty (internship with veterinarian starts at two). Then I went home at five, ate a very quick dinner, dashed to change clothes, put curlers in my hair. By five-fifteen, I was putting makeup on in the car, while mom raced me to the film location. I also studied in the car. I’ll spend all night there making the movie, studying between takes. Then Mom will pick me up at seven in the morning and drive through Wendy’s for breakfast, then race to get me to college which is about an hour away from where the movie is being filmed. Then another day will start all over again.

Betty Dravis: Yikes, Marissa, it makes me tired just hearing about it. It’s a good thing they don’t film every day or you would never get any rest. With your busy schedule, this may seem like a silly question, but you’re a vibrant, active young woman and at your age you must date some. Do you have a steady boyfriend, if they still call it that in the new millennium? If so, how does he feel about you keeping so busy?

Marissa Autumn: I did date a young man for five years, but decided I wanted to date other guys to make sure what I really want, so I broke up with Kyle. Plus, I wanted to do my own thing. I am too young to settle for one person at this time of my life. Kyle still comes to all my performances and some of my rehearsals. We are good friends, but I am now dating a few different guys. (See photo of Marissa and Kyle.)

Betty Dravis: That seems sensible at this time, Marissa, and I’m glad you and Kyle are still friends. Now since you do so much, can you narrow it down to three things in your life that you couldn’t live without? And since you sing, what song do you find yourself singing most often in the shower?

Marissa Autumn: The three things I want most in life are: To meet my real parents someday, a very good education (seven to eight years of college) and to have the lead role in a big-screen movie that would feature all my talents: acting, singing, dancing, etc. When I am doing anything—acting, singing or playing a sport–I am performing and I want to be the best at it! If that means more training, then I am ready to do it. There is one other thing I love doing and that is helping others. From the time that I can remember, I have been helping other children in need by doing concerts to help raise money for them. One of my favorites is the Festival of Trees for Children’s Hospital. I started very young in helping them…and the USA soldiers is another group I perform for.

I don’t sing a lot in the shower… LOL. But on-stage I love doing pop music, but the crowds enjoy it a lot when I do country too. Gerald Dodson, who is a USA security officer in Washington D.C. from the White House, and Rick Young, a music teacher who owns Talent Live Studio in Michigan, are the ones who wrote my original songs: The Girl, Take Me, (pop) and Whirlwind (country). The Girl is my favorite and I’m hoping someday they may want to use it in a movie. Gerry and Rick have another song, Making Love in the Rain, for me to record in the future.

Betty Dravis: You certainly have a lot of people encouraging you in your career, Marissa. You are very lucky! From your website, I see that modeling is also a big part of your life. You are a stunning beauty, so I can see why. You have done runway and print modeling for so many big names that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. Among them are: Katerina Bocci’s Bridal Show and her private showings, Dior Cosmetics, St. Pucci, Macys, Saks, Nordstroms, Gap, MGM, Hour Magazine and you were chosen to model at Renu Magazine’s launch party. It must have been fun to combine your talent for singing in some of the larger shows. Since everyone thinks of models as being perfect, can you bring that “down to earth” for us by relating a runway mishap or a funny incident that happened during any of your modeling assignments?

Marissa Autumn: There are two times that come to mind. One was when I modeled the fabulous $40,000 red gown by Katerina Bocci (see photo): Just as I was ready to step onto the runway someone hit my shoulder causing me to fall. The other embarrassing time was when I modeled and sang at MGM for the grand opening of Renu Magazine. You had to be twenty-one to walk through the casino to get to the event room where I was to perform and model. I had to use my sister’s ID to get in the place. Since she is blonde, a little older and larger than me, I told the security guard that I lost weight, had plastic surgery and dyed my hair. I don’t know if he believed me, but he let me in. But some mean-spirited person called, saying there was an eighteen-year-old modeling, so before the show started they did another security check. I hid in the bathroom, but they asked everyone to come out and show ID again. Fortunately, the same security guard was there; he looked at me and said, “She’s okay! She’s over twenty-one. She just had a lot of plastic surgery!” I was so relieved to be able to perform that night! I got a laugh from that because that nice guard had no idea how ironic his remark was: The grand opening was put on by a well-known plastic surgeon, Michael Gray.

Betty Dravis: That’s a funny story, Marissa. I notice on your resume it states that you are open to roles from fifteen to thirty. I was taken aback when I first saw the thirty limit; I couldn’t imagine you looking thirty. But now that I’ve seen the sophisticated shot of you in that red gown with the extremely chic, more grown-up hairdo, I believe it. But getting back to your acting, I’m intrigued by the photo of you with the famous singer/actor Billy Ray Cyrus. How did you meet him and where was that picture taken?

Marissa in concert with Billy Ray Cyrus

Marissa Autumn: I met him about two years ago…just before we did a concert in Canton, Michigan. He is a very nice man and compared me to his daughter at the time. I was happy to perform the last song with him; he was a lot of fun to work with.

Betty Dravis: Speaking of actors, there’s another photo of you with comic actor Rob Schneider who got his start on Saturday Night Live. I’ve been a fan since his 1999 movie Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and its 2005 sequel Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. He’s a riot! It was cool to see him on Jay Leno’s show recently. You told me that you played the part of a college student in one of his films, American Virgin; I’m wondering if you played a friend of the main female lead Priscilla, played by actress Jenna Dewan? What was it like working with Dewan and Schneider? Is he as funny off-screen as he is on?

Marissa was in movie with comedian Rob Schneider

Marissa Autumn: Yes, I played a friend of hers at the pretend college which was filmed in Greek Town, Detroit. We attended a lot of the same parties throughout the movie and we were doing what most college kids do: partying, drinking, dancing…and some were having pretend sex in the movie. Not me, though! Dewan was very quiet on and off the set, but Rob is a lot of fun. In one part of the movie he is just about all naked. This movie was a lot of fun to be in. While waiting for the set to get ready, Rob and I would sometimes sing together.

Betty Dravis: An interesting bit of trivia I learned during research for this interview is that American Virgin started shooting in New Orleans with the title of Virgin on Bourbon Street, later changing to American Virgin when they decided to shoot it in Michigan.

I understand you have been in two big-screen movies, two HBO films, had a part in a Jennifer Lopez MTV video, and performed a concert at Detroit’s Super Bowl XL party at Somerset Collection. How do you handle such early success? And since you share some of the attributes of Jennifer Lopez, is she one of your role models? Did you learn anything from her while working on the MTV? If so, I’m sure our readers would enjoy hearing all about it.

Marissa Autumn: I am so busy I don’t have time to think about that stuff. I am usually studying or going from place to place. Yes, J. Lo was very interesting…and really pretty. At that age (fifteen), I was very impressed with everything she did. I remember her telling me to get used to learning a whole new dance in one day or even overnight. While in Pittsburgh, I had to practice dancing from seven a.m. until eleven at night. It was a long day… I was taught by a choreographer in Pittsburgh that had been flown in from California just for this video. J. Lo was right; I had to learn some new dance moves…and learn them fast!

Betty Dravis: Most of your parts have been small parts so far––from college students to aggressive shoppers––but you said above one of your goals is to have a lead role that showcases all your talents. Please share your life’s ambition and some advice for those who wish to be in the entertainment industry.

Marissa Autumn: Yes, I want the LEAD role in the movies, but I still want to do my singing and dancing too. I think that an entertainer should be able to do all three and do them well if trained the right way. I have watched many movies where the actor is acting, singing and dancing. I am going to college year around hoping to get my degree in a shorter time so I can spend more time acting. By the age of twenty-one, I will have completed my four years of college with honors. By that time I hope to have been in a number of different movies, also.

Betty Dravis: I admire your determination and ambition, Marissa. That’s great advice and smart thinking. It’s always good to have a back-up plan. Being a veterinarian, to me, would be an exciting, rewarding career choice too. Perhaps someday you can combine the two. Do you have a current mentor? If so, tell us about him or her and about others who have influenced your life…your career.

Marissa Autumn: I love acting, but want to make sure I have a good backup. Just in case the acting doesn’t make it all the way, I could be a veterinarian…but now I’m doing both and having a lot of fun. My mentor in my life was my principal in middle school Mrs. Jo Kwasny. She saw me perform at the school talent show and told me I have to be an actor. She said that when I performed her eyes were always on me, like the other kids were not on the stage, even though they were. She encouraged me to act, sing and to get good grades. I can’t thank her enough…

Betty Dravis: Regarding your music, you have a lovely, natural voice and the best way to describe your vibrant stage presence is to say you have tremendous sex appeal and you “glow.” I’ve seen some of your videos and you are just as appealing singing pop as you are doing country and rock. I read that you’ve been compared to LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood and even Shakira. That takes me back to when I interviewed country/western superstar Tanya Tucker when she was only fourteen. At the time she was being compared to Brenda Lee who also got a young start. I hope your being compared to these big names is a good omen for your bright future, also.

Your versatility is awesome and you certainly get your audience revved up and wanting more. During each performance you appear to be having the time of your life. Is it as much fun as it appears? And how does it feel being compared to those famous entertainers?

Marissa Autumn: Yes, it is a lot of fun. And it feels great! At first it was a little scary because some people were chasing me, taking pictures and shouting my name and all I wanted to do was make it to the bathroom before I had to do my concert. It really feels good when the whole crowd shouts my name when I walk on stage to do a concert. I love it! And to be compared to some of the performers who have won so many awards is awesome… To win the same awards as those top entertainers is something I dream of.

Betty Dravis: Since this interview will come out around Christmas, I’m accompanying this story with a photo or two from your Christmas concert last year when you entertained some of our U.S. soldiers. You told me earlier that show “was a story in itself.” What did you mean by that? Also, where was this performance and do you have one lined up for this Christmas?

Marissa Autumn: Yes, I am working on doing a holiday concert for the soldiers this year in Michigan. I make the concerts as much fun as possible by having the soldiers put their names on pieces of paper and put the papers in a basket. I have a number of different business donations–CDs, video games, phones, games, gift cards–and other items for them. After my concert, I pull from the basket and give every soldier a present. At one of the concerts last year, I had them video one of the soldiers and me for YouTube.  After the video was out for about two months, I got an email asking me to remove the video from YouTube because I was way too sexy to be with the old man in the video. Here is a picture of the “old man” and me. He’s far from being old; a nice-looking young soldier… Aren’t people funny? LOL

Betty Dravis: That is odd, Marissa, but they were probably being overly protective of you because you’re so young. But you are so fascinating, I got carried away. I’m supposed to ask twelve questions, but I’m making it the generous “baker’s dozen” and asking thirteen. I’m sure the Dames won’t mind…and I’m sure our readers are as charmed by you as I am.

We mentioned two of your big screen movies above, but I understand you are also in one that was just released in November: What’s wrong with Virginia? It stars Ed Harris, who happens to be one of my favorite actors, and Jennifer Connelly. Please tell us about your role in this movie and whether you had any personal interaction with Harris or Connelly. Now, here’s my thirteenth question: Can you tell us a little about your on-set interactions with Ed and Jennifer?

Marissa Autumn: It was a very exciting movie to be in, Betty, because it has a lot of twists and turns. I played a young lady in the town. The place where the film was being shot was two-and-a-half hours from my house so that time I had to stay in the city. Because of that I was there when we were finished for the day of filming and was able to have dinner with them at times. That was fun. Ed and Jennifer were both very nice to me, and Jennifer said she liked the different colors in my hair. I get that a lot…

Betty Dravis: Well, that ties up the interview, Marissa. You certainly have an exciting life, and I’ve enjoyed our time together. I doubt if you’ll end up as a veterinarian with such a great start in the entertainment industry, but like I said above: both choices are ideal careers and you are smart to have a back-up. Thanks for sharing yourself with the Dames of Dialogue and our readers. You are just the kind of all-American girl that we love to see succeed. Keep us posted on your career, and before you leave, I hope you don’t mind if I share links to your website and a few of your YouTube videos:

Sweet Dreams:

These Boots Are Made for Walking:

Marissa’s Main Websites:

In closing, I’d like to remind our readers to catch you in What’s wrong with Virginia? I’m also impressed that you were in the Disney presentation of the Wannabes on December 11th. It was great seeing you perform with that fun group of young people…  You will also be entertaining the US soldiers again with a Christmas concert. Don’t forget to send us some new photos to share on our various websites.

It’s been a lovely, inspiring visit, Marissa. We hope to see you on the big screen in that lead role before too long. Keep in touch. I wish you and all the Dames’ readers a



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