Farrah Aviva Bites The Bullet Through Social Impact Campaign
Bite the bullet. It’s a phrase you often hear in pop culture, books and movies. The Oxford dictionary defines it as, deciding to do something difficult or unpleasant, something one’s been putting off or hesitating over.
While this definition seems straightforward enough, Farrah Aviva has breathed new life into the phrase with her aptly named social impact campaign, Bite the Bullet Stories. Launched in May of 2018, the campaign features Farrah’s photographs of celebrities, social influencers, and everyday people as they ‘bite the bullet’ and come forward to share their personal experiences of hardships, triumphs and determination for change.
Farrah works as an actress and photographer these days but has a varied background in the arts. In our interview, she opened up about her career journey from the fashion industry to acting and photography.
Meet Farrah Aviva the multipotentialite
Canadian born and just in her early thirties, Farrah has already worn more hats than many of us do in a lifetime. Starting out in the fashion world, Farrah slowly found her way into acting and pursued other discovered passions along the way.
“I’ve been an actress for about nine years, but I started my career in fashion design in New York. I worked in show production for New York Fashion Week, working with designers like Diane Von Furstenberg, but just for a few seasons. After that, I landed a position as a shoe and handbag designer. I got to help out with the launch of the Paris Hilton line and my first real job was creating prototypes for the Oscar de la Renta line, O Oscar. I was doing the whole, fake it till you make it thing,” she confesses, laughing. “I had no idea what I was doing!”
Her journey into the world of acting came as she found herself surrounded by actors in the city of New York. “While I was working in fashion, I kept seeing all of these actors around the city that I recognized. Acting had always been my first passion, but I didn’t think it was something I could go after. One day, I had this stupid epiphany that the only difference between myself and them was that they really went for it. When I went to renew my US work visa for the fashion job, I had my first real panic attack. I thought, I can’t go back! So I stayed in Canada and started acting.”
Farrah began shooting photos about seven years ago, realizing it was a complementary passion to acting. It turned out she was good at it too. “Photography started out as just a fun thing to do on the side, but it ended up being something that I passionately love! I would say it’s been an equal career to acting for me, being both an actor and photographer provides a good balance.”
We are all the more fortunate that Farrah is one to pursue her passions because her decision to pursue photography led her to launch multiple social impact campaigns. “For the last year or two I’ve been working on this art project called The Bang Bang. It’s a forever-project for me that uses fashion photography to deal with socio-political issues. The photos are tongue-in-cheek and deal with real-life issues.”
Photography projects: The Bang Bang and Bite the Bullet
Seeing what a creative individual she is, it comes as no surprise that The Bang Bang eventually inspired Farrah to take her ideas to a deeper and more personal level. “When I was prepping to market The Bang Bang, I was also asking my friends if I could take their pictures biting a bullet and asking them what they would ‘bite the bullet’ for. I did this with a couple of people and I thought it would be a fun little side project to do outside of The Bang Bang to show off some portraits now and again, but it took off faster than I’ve been prepared for.”
The Bite the Bullet project grew rapidly, gaining a considerable following across the web. The project uses a variety of celebrities, social influencers, and everyday people to share their stories, or a cause they fight for. Each individual is highlighted through a portrait of themselves accompanied by a personal story revealing their ‘bite the bullet’ moment. This unique, visual movement of storytelling sparks conversations around key causes, and highlights an abundant amount of causes or diverse issues people may face.
“The first person I shot for Bite the Bullet was Emily Bett, from Arrow. Her story was focused on gun violence and her stance that gun laws need to be looked at again. It was really bold of her! She had an incredible amount of support, and a substantial amount of not-so-positive support. Her bravery in being vulnerable and her willingness to participate kind of set the bar with what we could do with this campaign.”
Immediately after Emily Bett’s story was released, feminine empowerment blog, Shethority, run by Caity Lotz from Legends of Tomorrow, caught wind of it and decided to share it on their platform. This led to an ongoing partnership to help share the campaign on their platform. “I do a story with them every Friday now. They have quite a large following so that helped with how quickly everything took off.”
Following this, Farrah had the opportunity to share a major ‘bite the bullet’ moment for The Hunger Games star, Alexander Ludwig, revealing his battle in overcoming addiction. The piece also featured his girlfriend, Kristy Dawn Dinsmore. But little did she know, a big surprise would be waiting for her shortly after the story was created that would put her project on the map in a way that she never anticipated.
“A few weeks ago ET Canada took notice of the story I did with Alexander Ludwig. I had photographed him and his girlfriend in LA and he was planning to open up about overcoming addiction, which no one knew that had he had dealt with in the past. The project was brought up at Comicon when Alexander was being interviewed by ET Canada, even though he wasn’t planning on telling anyone yet,” Farrah tells me. “He wound up sharing more of the story and ET Canada did a big feature both online and on air. They did a really great job of talking about both Bite the Bullet and Alexander’s story with a lot of heart and compassion. Kristy and Alexander have been incredibly supportive of this project. They believe in it so much that they recentlycalled me and asked how they could help. I’m happy to announce that they’ve come on as ambassadors to help me create more awareness and take the project to the next level. We’ve already started to talk about a few exciting things that I'm absolutely thrilled about. They're beyond wonderful to have in my court.”
Finding authenticity through raw conversations
Farrah’s campaigns seek to spark authentic conversations around the world. There is a deep importance in telling, and hearing about, real-life stories. These days, we are surrounded by highlight reels. Between friends, families, celebrities and influencers promoting their #BestLife and #BestSelf, it’s a constant smorgasbord of content pushing a #GoodVibesOnly life. While positivity is great to celebrate, sometimes it’s not enough.
With a mission to tell authentic life stories, Farrah is out to reveal people's everyday challenges through her photography. She aims to provide a platform for role models to share their struggles and personal journeys, enabling influencers to band together around causes that they feel strongly about. The campaign brings unity to its viewers and aids in lifting the invisible weight carried around by those who feel pressured to keep up with the #BestSelf #GoodVibesOnly life plastered across social media, Farrah included.
“I am on Instagram all the time, and I am guilty of becoming invested in the stories of those I follow. Becoming a photographer meant that I became very specific as to what I follow, what photographers or artists I like, and which pages inspire me. In turn, I’m also constantly seeing my friends living their best lives and a lot of the times, all I’m seeing is perfection after perfection. Happiness after happiness. Everything can look so easy for everyone else, and it can really get to you! I mean, it can inspire you, but there’s always a part of my brain thinking, how did they get there? I want to get there. I think it’s great that everyone is showing their best selves and, in a way, I think it’s good because positivity breeds positivity, but I think somewhere on social media there needs to be your best self and your real self.”
Bite the Bullet is all about getting to know your #RealSelf. Your struggles, the things you’ve overcome and the causes that are close to your heart. “Through the first stories I did, I realized how many people we could inspire by talking about real issues. I knew that when I was doing it, but I didn’t know if people were going to get it. I’ve loved following the tremendous amount of support for the project. I wake up daily to messages from people saying how much this has helped them. I feel like if we can show our vulnerabilities, we not only make ourselves stronger, but everyone around us. When we accept these things in ourselves we’ll be able to help so many people. As Kristy Dawn Dinsmore said in her Bite the Bullet story, we are all perfectly imperfect human beings. Our vulnerability is our strength. If we all could just breathe that in everyday!”
With the campaign, Farrah makes a point to cover a multitude of topics, giving everyone something to relate to. She also takes a unique stand by positioning the underlying theme of the stories to be about overcoming something, not simply just going through it.
“With Bite the Bullet, we share stories about everything from being bullied, to acne, to body issues, to how to deal with addiction, to trying to save the rainforests. What I always try to highlight with each story, even if someone is still going through something, is how someone faced an issue that almost crumbled them and how they choose to bite the bullet and overcome it. We want them to share all they’ve learned to help someone else facing the same challenge. Understanding the journey is really important. If you say you’re an addict and share your story, how is it going to help people when you tell them? Did you decide to change? How did you get to where you are? If you were bullied, did it transpire into you now becoming an artist? When others read the transition story, they can realize that they too can turn things into a positive. They don’t have to be this one thing, they can alter their situation.”
Now, after bringing so many other real stories to life, Farrah decided it was time for her to bite the bullet herself and ask for help with her campaign.
“For the last three months, I haven’t done any jobs that bring in income. I’ve gone full force into spending every dollar I have on this project. Sometimes I have to get props, makeup or rental gear, or fly to different cities. I believe in this project so much and I’m not going to let it die. There are so many more stories coming in that I want to shoot, and I truly believe that it can provide an impact larger than just another social media campaign. I feel so vulnerable saying this, but I need to bite the bullet to say I need help because I’m tapped out financially.”
Farrah has started an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help raise money for the project, she had also created accessories and photo prints as gifts for those who donate. “There are options and rewards for certain amounts that are donated that will get you Bite the Bullet photo prints, thank you cards, or small accessories like a necklace to serve as an everyday reminder for what you want to bite the bullet for. It feels so uncomfortable to ask people for help, but I really believe in this project and I would rather know I tried to do everything to keep it alive than not do it at all.”
In a world of highlight reels, let us also incorporate the real. Let us remember that we are all perfectly imperfect, and that it’s okay to show that side of ourselves. Farrah and her Bite the Bullet Stories are an inspiration to us all by shaking things up to show what’s truly in our hearts. The campaign encourages us to embrace our vulnerability, to use it to bridge the gap between us, and to create strength where there was struggle.
If you would like to help support Bite the Bullet Stories, please visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bite-the-bullet-stories-love-community#/
Read more about Bite the Bullet Stories, at bitethebulletstories.com or follow @bitethebulletstories on Instagram. To get updates on Farrah and her recent projects, follow her on Instagram @farrahaviva
Photos by: Farrah Aviva
Article by: Emily Loewen