Kristen Bell was interviewed by Elana Lyn Gross for Forbes. Read below:
Kristen Bell, the award-winning actress and star of NBC’s The Good Place, is well-known for her roles on popular television shows, movies and on Broadway, as well as for her charitable work. Giving back has always been a priority for Bell so, when her friends discovered a simple way to help children with malnutrition recovery, she came on board as a cofounder. They founded This Bar Saves Lives, a granola bar company that donates lifesaving malnutrition treatments to children in need. Along with their giving partners, Edesia Nutrition, Action Against Hunger, Feeding America and Vitamin Angels, the team has provided more than three million nutrition packets to children around the world.
Elana Lyn Gross: What was the inspiration for This Bar Saves Lives?
Kristen Bell: In 2008, my friends Ryan Devlin and Todd Grinnell traveled to Liberia on a humanitarian trip and met children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. While this was disheartening, they also learned how this condition could be effectively treated through a supplement called Plumpy’Nut. Plumpy’Nut is kind of like a supercharged peanut paste with vitamins and minerals. Two to three of these packets a day for approximately eight weeks can bring a malnourished child back to a healthy weight. The main problem is that clinics around the world don’t have access to enough of it. So, when [Delvin] reached out to me with his simple solution to get more Plumpy’Nut packets into the hands of more families, I had to join the team.
Gross: Since launching in 2013, This Bar Saves Lives has provided more than three million nutrient packets to children fighting malnutrition. Do you have a favorite story about the impact This Bar Saves Lives has had on people?
Bell: We captured a time-lapse of a child we were able to help treat at Second Mile Haiti, our giving partner based in Cap-Haitien. What’s incredible is that our customers’ purchases over the past two years have been able to fulfill 100% of Second Mile Haiti’s Plumpy’Nut needs. Kendy arrived at Second Mile Haiti after his mother passed away and weighed only 11 pounds at nine months old. He needed immediate help and was put on a ten-week treatment of Plumpy’Nut. Throughout this period, Kendy gained 50% more weight. His recovery and transformation wasn’t only evident in his physical appearance, but also in his new, lively attitude.
Gross: What are your responsibilities as cofounder of This Bar Saves Lives?
Bell: I have my hand in many different aspects of the business. I joke that my unofficial title is “chief taste officer,” as I love to participate in the flavor and product development process. I also love meeting with retail partners to share our brand’s story and mission. This Bar Saves Lives’ story is a personal one, and it’s best told live. Whenever I can leverage my role as a professional storyteller to spread the word about our brand and mission, I’m there!
Gross: What is a workday like for you? Please walk me through a day!
Bell: My work days are often inconsistent, depending on what job I’m doing at any given time. They always start with a hot cup of matcha! I usually wake up at 7 am with my girls, get them ready, and then I’m off to school which is around 9 am. Then I come home and I’m either off to the recording booth for a voice-over, or off to hair and makeup to shoot, or spend the rest of the day at my computer writing and answering emails at home. I pick the girls up at 4 pm, come home, play with them, make dinner, get them to bed and snuggle with my husband on the couch!
Gross: Has giving back always been important to you?
Bell: Absolutely. I am incredibly lucky to have always had a great support system and a lot of encouragement to follow my ambition. I want to be that support system for people who don’t have it. My goal in life is to spread more joy and reduce suffering any way I can. It makes me feel good when I lay my head on the pillow at night that I could be of service to someone else because we are all in this together!
Gross: You wrote a beautiful Motto article about your experience with depression and anxiety. What would be your best advice for someone who is silently struggling with depression or anxiety?
Bell: Rip the word “shame” out of your vocabulary. It’s not worth it. Speak openly, be vulnerable and you will find a solution that works for you.
Gross: What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
Bell: To take time for myself. I’m very ambitious and sometimes have trouble focusing and take too much on. The result is being spread thin and not giving 100% to anything I’ve committed to. Finding time to reflect, meditate, be with family and not think about work helps me pay attention and perform better.
Gross: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Bell: “If it doesn’t matter in five years, it doesn’t matter.” —Cher
Gross: What is your business advice for other young professional women?
Bell: Trust your gut. Don’t underestimate the quiet power of diffusion. To diffuse is a strength, not a weakness. It will lead to resolve. Work hard, and be nice to people.