Unstoppable: How Laurie Love Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Fibromyaglia and Heavy Metal Toxicity
Everyone deserves basic human rights and despite our differences we all deserve fairness, dignity, equality, respect and the right to work.
As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurie Love.
Actor, producer, stuntwoman, author, and philanthropist. Laurie Love has been passionate about film and theatre since a young age, and she’s using that passion to help change the world.
Laurie plays Nikki Styles in Brian Skiba’s Pursuit (2022) which also stars John Cusack and Emilie Hirsch, and has recently been seen in The 2nd (2020) with Ryan Phillippe and Casper van Dien, and Deadly Excursion: Kidnapped from the Beach (2021) with Samaire Armstrong and Corin Nemec. She is also known for her starring roles in feature films, including .357 (2013), Crushed Velvet (2011), Blood Moon Rising (2009), and supporting roles in An Organized Killer (2021), Rottentail (2019), Final Recourse (2013), and Dirty Little Trick (2011).
Arizona born and raised, she is an honors graduate of Arizona State University with a B.S. in Communications and a Minor in Film and Media Production. Laurie was the co-owner of the award-winning Arizona production and post-production company, Victory Angel Films, LLC. and also previously served on the board for the Arizona Film and Media Coalition with hopes of bringing film and film incentives back to her home state of Arizona. She is currently the Creative Director of Skibavision, which is headed by her husband, director Brian Skiba.
Laurie is also a contributor/co-author of the book “From Us For You: Inspiring Stories of Healing, Growth, and Transformation”, in which she bravely recounts her journey with chronic illness and hopes to inspire others going through the same thing. She is an active volunteer in her community and believes that giving back where she can is the most fulfilling gift in life.
Laurie currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, four children, and three dogs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
My name is Laurie Love; I am co-founder of Skibavision, LLC., producer, actress, writer and stunt woman. I am a wife, stepmom, mom, dog mom, volunteer and philanthropist. For over 20 years I have been experiencing symptoms of different “invisible” illnesses. I have received diagnoses for conditions that “have no cure“ and “would just have to learn to live with”. I struggled with internal pain for half of my life and I learned to live with it. That is, until one day, when I discovered my true underlying invisible illnesses. I was thirty seven years old when everything came to a breaking point and that moment sent me on a journey of self healing,self-realization and self-love.
Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?
It isn’t the most comfortable feeling to speak about my personal medical issues but I believe it is necessary to share my story in hopes that it may just help someone else out there who is suffering. About a year after my son was born, I realized something was severely wrong with my health when symptoms, I thought were due to pregnancy/post-pregnancy and an emergency C-Section, didn’t dissipate. Furthermore, new scary symptoms started to manifest. Throughout my pregnancy I had terrible carpal tunnel in my wrists. I had to wear wrist braces on both hands, the pain was unbearable, but I dealt with it. I thought for sure after I had my son that the pain would just go away. However, post-pregnancy, the pain started to grow. It traveled up my arms, they would go numb, and tingle day and night with no relief, The pain would flare up in different parts of my body. I had terrible insomnia, chronic fatigue, and brain fog. I wasn’t losing the weight I had gained during pregnancy. The pain in my arms grew so bad I started to drop and break dishes. I was so weak I could barely make a fist. I couldn’t do a single push-up. I was afraid the weakness would make me drop my son. My ears would constantly ring with tinnitus to where it would become deafening. I would have to ask people to repeat themselves several times, reading became difficult, thinking became difficult, typing became difficult, taking care of myself became difficult. Meanwhile I focused all my energy on taking care of my kids while my husband was out of state at work for months at a time. My health rapidly spiraled out of control. The symptoms became even more intrusive; migraines and searing pain in different parts of my body that would make me crumple to the ground. Sometimes the pain was so bad it hurt to put pressure on my feet. I would crawl up my stairs to do the laundry. My skin hurt, my hair hurt, everything hurt. I was nauseous and dizzy all the time. Sensitive to heat and cold and light. My bones started to feel like they were being bent until they were broken. I started to feel like I was losing my mind as the pain overtook me day-in and day-out. I had four children at home to care for, so I put my health on the backburner, and much to my disservice, I hid my illness. I didn’t want my kids or husband to be scared because I was. Furthermore, I didn’t want to be looked over for work. I was stubborn, ashamed and didn’t want to admit I needed help. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it all, until I couldn’t. Every night I would silently cry myself to sleep and tell myself tomorrow would be a better day and realized that day might never come. I finally saw a doctor who ran the same general blood tests and told me they were in a normal range and offered me antidepressants. Yet, something was really wrong with me, and I wanted answers. I had the attitude of well if my doctor can’t give me answers I was going to find them myself and figure out a natural way to heal. There had to be a way. At this point my quality of life and ability to do everyday tasks was so low. The pain was a constant 10. I did not take anything besides an ibuprofen that did nothing. I might as well have been taking skittles. I am not a fan of taking pills. On my worst day I did something I will never forget. The pain was sweeping me to a dark place where I pondered ending it all. That is when my mental shift occurred. I stood there, looking in the mirror at myself in fear, hunched over in deep pain. I gained a deep understanding for someone who looks normal but on the inside is suffering in terrible agony. I saw my soul, screaming in pain, trapped in a body that was slowly shutting down. For some reason I decided to take a picture, I put my elbows on the counter and propped myself up. I took that photo with a promise to one day look back at this picture and know I made it through the toughest time in my life. That small action gave me a glimmer of hope. I still had fight in me and foresight to see my future. Later, while lying in bed I started to pen my living will and filling out paperwork to apply for disability. I was defeated feeling that any hope of a life beyond pain was impossible, that I may not make it past my 40th birthday and that my career in filmmaking was likely over for good. I was grieving my former self, my health, and my career. This same night (because I never slept) I decided to do a guided meditation for the first time I found it on YouTube. My breathing exercises weren’t doing much and I just wanted some way to focus and take my mind off the pain. This one simple meditation made the biggest impact on my life and inspired me so much it was a pivotal moment that changed my trajectory. The meditation guided me to picture myself standing in an empty yet infinite safe space, next I was guided to imagine myself in the future possibly 5 to 10 years at my most successful, happiest, healthiest, beautiful and most vital. In the distance someone starts to appear and walk forward toward you and upon reveal it is your future self just as you imagined, beautiful, healthy, successful, smiling and approaching. Once face to face you are embraced with the most loving, warmest, comforting hug. Your future-self then looks you in the eyes with all knowing and says, “Thank you”. I bawled my eyes out and that was it that was the moment everything clicked. I grabbed my will and disability application and ripped them up. It was time to go to war for myself and my health, to hang on to my hopes and dreams with every thread of my being, and fight for better days and do whatever it takes to get answers, be my own advocate and heal so I can raise my family and be that best future self I had imagined. It was over the next few months I was able to narrow down my symptoms to MS, Lupus, Lyme Disease, or this strange auto immune illness called Fibromyalgia. An illness I learned about from an episode of the Beverly Hills Housewives. That was my a-ha moment.
Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness ?
I wake up with gratitude every day to be where I am at right now. Throughout my healing journey I have lost 60 pounds and haven’t found them again. I became an avid yoga enthusiast (great for the mind, body, and soul) I am in great shape with a thriving immune system, I became vegan, gluten and sugar free. I learned to balance life between family, work and self-care. I am thrilled to be back at work developing, writing and producing content for television and screen. I have been blessed to return to working in front and behind the camera pulling double duty on many feature and television films. On set is in my happiest of happy places. my first film getting back in front of the camera was on action film “The 2nd” starring Ryan Phillipe, Casper Van Dien and Jack Griffo where I shared a scene with Ryan and William Katt, then I literally jumped right back in to stunt work stunt-doubling for Jennifer Wenger. I continue to professionally act, I do my own stunts and continue stunt double work. Recently, I was humbled to be invited to author a contributing chapter within an inspirational book compilation by Diane Dresback titled “From Us For You: Inspiring Stories of Healing Growth and Transformation.” Within those pages I speak candidly about my healing journey, juggling career, mommy-hood and invisible illness. Net proceeds for the book go to the Arizona Foundation For Women. You can find the book and more about my story available on amazon in digital, audio and paperback https://www.amazon.com/Us-You-Inspiring-Stories-Transformation-ebook/dp/B08YP9TL27/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2RNNN3WHI02E6&keywords=From+Us+For+You&qid=1641861122&s=books&sprefix=from+us+for+you%2Cstripbooks%2C125&sr=1-1
I am incredibly excited about my most recent film releasing this year action/thriller PURSUIT starring; John Cusack, Emile Hirsch, Jake Manley and Liz Ludlow releases February 18th in select theaters, On Demand and @appleTV.
What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?
Where there are disabilities and limitations there are also abilities and no limits. Steven Hawking was a prolific scientist and mathematician whom through ALS slowly became paralyzed, he lost his ability to speak, he controlled his voice with a speech generating device. His mind was his power and he used his abilities to his advantage. When you have a disability or limitation you become an expert at adapting to change and listening to your inner self. Trust your inner voice and what your body is telling you. Listen to your intuition and NEVER GIVE UP! When you get knocked down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. Find the fight within you to overcome and hang on to your dreams, go within and sit with yourself, think positive and become your own best friend and advocate. You are the only one who knows you best.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My kids first and foremost they need me, my lesson was I needed to take care of me in order to take care of them. My love for them inspired every single one of my steps forward. My mother, I watched her gracefully, faithfully and valiantly fight Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and win. I was in college at the time and told her I would drop out and help take care of her. She told me, “no, I want you to keep going.” She has been a great example of positive thinking, faith, and true grit. My oldest sister fought her battle against Her2 Breast cancer at the same time I went into treatment for my illnesses and heavy metal toxicity. Facing our storms, we took on our health battles at the same time cheering eachother on and now she is cancer free and she is cheering me on to remain in remission from fibromyalgia and be heavy metal free as I finish my treatment. My functional medicine doctor. Dr Mathur of Angel Longevity Center for helping me get to the root cause of what was going on and giving me a protocol to treat it. She was the first doctor that told me she was going to get to the bottom of what was going on with me and help get me back to my best vital self. And finally, my husband who pushed me to get back into the game when I didn’t feel I was ready. I went back to work while I was still receiving treatments and I continue to work as I finish out the last of my heavy metal removal. I am thankful for him believing in me more than I believed in myself at the time and giving me the push I needed to get back at it and back to doing what I love.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I feel my success has given me a second chance on life again to do it all. With great pain and suffering I have found incredible gratitude and understanding. It has pushed me to be more vocal about invisible illness and inspired newfound courage to share my struggles in hopes of helping others raising awareness about Fibromyalgia and Heavy Metal Toxicity. I am back to work creating entertainment for the world, back to acting and jumping off buildings, I can be seen doing hand stands across the land on my instagram and back to volunteering my time within my community. I have taken on a position at my step-children’s high school as PTSO Treasurer and have been fundraising and running events to raise funds for senior student scholarships and support the principle, teachers and staff. I am a recurring guest judge for the non-profit Almost Famous Film Festival based in Phoenix, Arizona. Time is valuable and I am so glad I am able to share my time with others whether it is supporting the arts and sciences, supporting the schools, school children and educators, and supporting my family and community. Giving back to the community in which you live is something I believe is vital and necessary for the greater good of everyone. Doing good just feels good period.
Can you share “5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations” and why.
1. Physical limitations are normally not by choice.
2. Some illnesses and limitations are invisible to the naked eye and occurring within. We don’t know everyone’s internal struggle even though they may look “normal” on the outside.
3. Everyone deserves basic human rights and despite our differences we all deserve fairness, dignity, equality, respect and the right to work.
4. People with physical limitations are most likely some of the strongest people you will ever meet.
5. Taking care of an invisible or chronic illness is like having a second full-time job.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Before I moved to Los Angeles, I had to say my last goodbyes in person to my aunt whom was terminally ill with cancer. I held her hand and asked her if there was any advice, she would be willing to give me for this life and she said, “You find out who you are, where you are, when you get there.” ~Karen Moore
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
I had a dream once I was whisked away by private car to a gorgeous mansion in the Hollywood hills for a private brunch with secret guests. When the front doors were opened, I walked into a beautiful sunroom adorned with white furniture and decorative pillows. Sitting across from me was Julianne Moore and Scarlett Johanssona script was plopped in front of me and Julianne said, “let’s get started we have a lot of work to do”…Just sayin’… I wouldn’t mind at all if that manifestation became a reality; us ladies may just need to collab together on a movie in the near future.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Unstoppable: How Laurie Love Has Redefined Success While Navigating Society With Fibromyaglia and… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.