Proud2Bme | Tackling Life Like a Titan: An Interview with Actor, Author, and Activist Daniel Mignault

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Tackling Life Like a Titan: An Interview with Actor, Author, and Activist Daniel Mignault

By River Ceballos--I recently had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, Daniel Mignault. He is a professional actor, model, and novelist. During our interview, he opened up and shed some light on why he went from child actor to author and how he wants to use his voice as a young activist, all the while giving tips to young adults everywhere that are sure to inspire you during the school year. He’s experienced both highs and lows, just like everybody reading. I appreciate him being so candid and for bringing his sense of humor and honesty along with him.

River: Daniel! Thank you for agreeing to share a bit of your story with me. How are you?

Daniel: I am doing great, man! It’s no problem at all; I am so happy to share my story with everyone.

River: You've been in the entertainment industry for quite some time, as an actor, model, and now, a published author. Why have you chosen now to open up?

Daniel: I think now is the best time possible to open up since school is back in session and I have a good platform of loyal fans to help spread the word on the issues at hand.

River: Have you ever battled any mental health issues? What do you think contributed to these issues, if you don't mind me asking?   

Daniel: I wouldn’t say I had any severe, lasting mental health issues but a lot of the issues that I did have came from bullying when I was younger. The bullying lead to depression, depression led me to hate and dislike myself, and that led to the emotionally damaging thoughts. It’s a vicious cycle that repeated like a broken record.

River: You mentioned that your depression stemmed from bullying. What were you bullied for?

Daniel: I was homeschooled for almost all my life and when I went back to school, it was the start of middle school. I was entering uncharted territories. Being the outsider and only ever really been around adults, I was never able to grasp street smarts or grow up with the new students around me. I was also very short and small compared to everyone else, which made me an easy target.

River: You were homeschooled for quite some time. How did that come about and did you enjoy your time away from school?

Daniel: Yes, I was homeschooled for quite a while. It came about from being an actor and needing to have a very flexible schedule for when I booked parts and got a job. It was nice to be around my family and grow closer to them.

River: Was homeschooling a form of not having to deal with the problems you dealt with at school?

Daniel: No, I was homeschooled for the reason of acting and having a more flexible schedule, so I had not yet experienced bullying at that time.

River: Do you think acting and writing have been an emotional outlet for you?

Daniel: I do think that both were amazing emotional outlets for me. I know that writing was a great way for me to vent and let out all of my inner emotions—cleanse myself if you will—and just be able to breathe. Acting was a great way for me to become more certain of myself and break out of the shell that bullying put me in. I had been way more reserved.  

River: Now that school is back in session, many young adults are wandering the halls trying to fit in with the their peers. Any advice or tips on a happy, successful school year?

Daniel: I think the best thing I can say here is to be yourself. You attract people who are like you  and the type of energy you send is what you will get back. Give it some time and friends will be coming your way!

River: One thing that I didn't have to worry about too much in school was keeping up with all the social media trends of likes, follows, etc. What's your take on young adults feeling like they have to portray perfection on social media?

Daniel: Social media is a huge topic and that can be a whole other subject and article. But my best advice is to never put any personal information about yourself on the internet! Don’t give out anything that can be used against you. Your private life should remain private, for many reasons. But also, just be yourself! Be who you are in real life on the internet, let your personality shine and you will be just fine. Likes and follows don’t represent who you really are. Remember, how you feel about yourself is what matters and nobody is as perfect as they seem. We all struggle.

River: Many people deal with depression and anxiety in different ways and some are great at hiding their true feelings, which can be very harmful. Do you have any telltale signs that you're having a hard time?

Daniel: Yes. I typically have a very positive outlook on life. When my mind begins to wander more towards the negative, the light in me starts to dim. That’s when I know I’m heading down the wrong path. I make an effort to switch my emotions back around, flip the switch, and use the tools I’ve learned to turn it back around!  

River: You shared that you have a very close, personal relationship with your parents, whom you credit for making life growing up a lot easier. What’s the secret to having such an open relationship with them?

Daniel: The secret is really no secret at all. Really, my parents are the ones who set this type of relationship standard we have now from a young age. No matter what, my parents always wanted me to know I could talk to them and tell them about everything and anything. It was so easy because I always knew they would get me out of the situation or help me out in any way they could. I have the best parents in the world and I would not be who I am today without them.

River: Do you have any advice for parents that may be reading who have kids, teens, or young adults at home who may be struggling with something?

Daniel: Indeed I do. I stress to every parent to make sure your child knows that they are safe to come to you with anything. Try and have as open of a relationship as possible, never judge or look down upon your child. Even one hint of judgement from your child can hinder your chance to be with your children. Home should be a safe haven!

River: There’s this stigma that if you're open and vulnerable about mental health issues, it makes you less of a man. What do you think?

Daniel: I absolutely disagree. It takes a real man to come out to the open and speak out about his mental health issues.

River: I feel there’s a lack of positive male roles models in this industry. What’s your take on that topic?

Daniel: I agree that there are not as many male role models in the industry with topics deemed “taboo.” I think that reason can be caused by many things. One of the reasons is because it’s believed men shouldn’t openly feel or discuss depression, anxiety, or even acknowledge they were bullied. Many men really do feel like it’s taking their “man card.” It’s like revoking one’s masculinity.

River: Anything you currently working on anything right now that you can share?

Daniel: Of course! I am working on a lot of things right at the moment. I would say the one I am most excited about it my brand new novel, TITAN! It is set to release in late November and you can purchase it on Amazon! Think of this novel as a darker version of Percy Jackson with a hint of The Hunger Games.

River: Your book sounds amazing and I can't wait to read it! You've said that you drew inspiration from books like Percy Jackson and The Maze Runner. Do you see strong willed, tough young men like the lead characters in both books as sort of your alter egos?

Daniel: Yes I do. I pulled a lot of inspiration from those books male characters and myself included to form the main character of Titan. It took a great time and a very in depth thought process to pull together and combine every aspect and trait that I thought was important to showcase my male characters strength and perseverance in my book.

River: Tell us about what made you transition from actor to writer? Did that come easily or was it a hard decision to make?

Daniel: I think the biggest thing which made me transition was that I was tired of being a puppet who played the story. I wanted to be the one who came up with the bones, muscle, and body of the fantasy and put it out for people to read. Knowing that people are reading a book that I wrote and a world that I built is like someone jumping into my mind to see how it works. It is a new type of high that’s for sure.

River: As a writer, do you have any favorite quotes/mantras that motivate you or get you through tough times?

Daniel: I have a quote that I always go back to, it really motivates me whenever I read it and I think what it says is such a true statement. The quote reads: “Aspire to be great and be great to inspire.”

River: Any advice for young men with body image issues?

Daniel: Yes, I feel that every man is individual and unique and must view himself as a great person. Everyone is a different size and make and all of us are special in some way.

River: Back to your high school experience for a second. Did you find yourself comparing yourself to other boys in your school whether it be in forms of popularity or physical traits?

Daniel: I did and it sucked to come home and ask myself why I couldn’t be like “whoever” or why is “what’s his face” in better shape. There was always something like this in my head. But one day I came to the realization that I am my own person and I do not need to compare who I am to anyone. That day, I finally found inner peace and was able to take a huge breath and remove this weight that had been put on my shoulders dragging me down. With that gone, I was able to climb to the top so much faster. We are unique individuals and do not need to copy or mimic these roles in school. We need to be ourselves and stay true to who we are because what is important in this life is what WE like and think about ourselves. Not what others do. I am glad I learned this at a young age.

River: How does college differ from high school, in your opinion?

Daniel: Major difference, it is completely night and day. I love college and I think it is a lot better than my high school experience, in my opinion. There’s a level of maturity there that is appreciated. The biggest difference for me (and what I love) is the no dress code! I go to school in my pajamas.

River: Do you have any positive male role models who you look up to in the entertainment industry?

Daniel: Yes, I have one or two...and now three knowing you, my friend! You are a great role model for young men looking to be picked up and brought back above the rising water. Keep it up, River! *P.S. No water puns intended…

River: How did you cope with your issues when you were younger as opposed to how you cope now?

Daniel: When I was younger, I really was able to cope by my writing and having that support from my parents. Now, I’m really self assured, so I’m able to blow the small stuff off a lot easier. I don’t get bullied anymore for anything. But with growing success I’ve noticed I get the haters but I think that comes along with anyone who is young and successful! Haters gonna hate!

River: Any advice for a young adults dealing with mental health issues?

Daniel: Yes, If you are dealing with mental health issues and you feel like you’re alone, you are not. You have so many different resources and outlets that you can use to open up and seek help from. Although River and I are not trained professionals, we can relate to you in many ways and we answer our messages all the time. Also, please know that it always gets better! Be strong and persevere!

River: If you could tell your 13-year-old self anything at all, what would it be?

Daniel: Honestly? Nothing at all. I am who I am for the things I went through in the past and the lessons I was able to learn. Just know that everything in this life happens for a reason and you are destined for great things!

River: Growing up, did you ever want to help other people like yourself or want to be a guiding light for those struggling?

Daniel: Of course, I always dreamt about helping others and being that guide. It is a dream come true to now be able to this and help as many people as I can.

River: What you are doing is very brave and I'm honored to have a friend in you! Are you as ready to change the world and be a positive force for our youth as I am?

Daniel: Absolutely.

River: Any websites that you go to for support that are similar to Proud2Bme?

Daniel: Yes, I found to be a great resource for myself.

A massive thank you to my friend Daniel for sharing his very candid story and opening up so much! You keep up with Daniel on his social media and check out the latest news on his books by using the links below!

Twitter- @danielmignault1

IG- @OfficialDanielMignault

YouTube- @DanielMignault

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