Make-up Artist, Mom, Austin, Texas
Ms. Romi Imbelli was nominated by another WOW Woman, and after reading a bit about her, I can see why. She is one resilient woman! Romi was part of a reality show called The Real L Word. It was the series that spun off from a wildly successful television drama The L Word. Prior to the L series there were barely any lesbian characters depicted in the mainstream media and if they were present, heavy stereotypes were accompanying them. The series were monumental in that they gave diverse characters a voice and a real story-line.
Although I haven’t watched the Real L Word (or it’s parent show) I knew enough about Romi’s “character” on the show to get curious about what happens to the reality stars (especially those who are portrayed as ‘controversial’ on set) after the show ends. We all know the formula when reality TV first took hold: there were women (and men) who were token “bad, unhinged, crazy!” and the spin would always be so satisfying to watch, oftentimes because it was dehumanizing to the person behind the persona.
Romi is a lovely and positive woman with a kind and disarming smile. She has a little girl who is absolutely adorable and worth being focused on and hopeful for. Romi did reflect on the days of the feverish media exposure, continuous drinking to numb the cameras-in-your-face style of shooting, and also talked about the flip-side of the madness: the fans who thanked her for being open and unapologetic. Everyone’s storyline is personal and unique. While most of us choose to operate sub rosa, it doesn’t mean we have a shortage of moments we’d rather forget and deny even to ourselves. Although Ms. Imbelli’s past is recorded and transcribed by the Wikipedias of the world, she has long since moved on to the greener pastures that include motherhood, love, self-respect, acceptance, spirituality and a healthy lifestyle. One thing is for sure, with so many lives and reincarnations, when Ms. Imbelli is 99 years old, no one will ever say that her life was boring.
2. Where is your hometown?
Long Beach, California.
3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation?
Mom, makeup artist and East Oregonian Aglow educator.
4. What was the journey like to get where you are (in life and career-wise)? What are some accomplishments you’re most proud of, and what was the turning point to set you on a current path in life?
I love what I do now. I love helping others live a healthier plant-based life. I love teaching about clean toxin-free beauty. I went to makeup school in my 20s and worked as a makeup artist in Los Angeles for years. I was a TV personality for a bit and worked in Faustino and had my own jewelry line. These days it’s all there still but I’m clean and operate in an echo friendly way. Motherhood changed me and made me more aware of my body, health and our planet. I want the best for my kid and want to help others live that life too.
5. What did you study in school?
I went to makeup school for beauty and special effects.
6. How is your life different from what you pictured at 20?
Omg i was a wild in my 20s. Dating women and men. Hustling so many jobs. Hosting events and self-medicating with alcohol. I lived (and loved) it up but was not taking good care of my body or soul. Here I am now, living in Austin, living my best mom life, eating vegan and using oils. I am happy taking care of myself and trying to live a long, healthy life for my daughter. I want her to see these things in me and grow up knowing how important health is.
7. Was there a time when life knocked you down or out and how did you get back up on your feet?
So many times. I had a crazy childhood. I was knocked down for sure after the reality show I was in ended. That was a very hard time. Lots of judgment and negative words. My “character” on the show was not well liked by the end. Having people watch you grow and rip you apart is very hard. You try not to care but it hurts. At the end I found a way of grabbing my life back as well as preserving my confidence and really figuring out who I was and who I wanted to become. At the end it was also about not letting strangers decide who I was.
8. Advice for other women?
Be true to yourself and follow your heart.
Life is short and don’t let others steal your happiness.
9. Knowing what we know now in current political climate, can women be "all that we can be" in today's world? What is the way forward, as you see it, for "feminist values"?
Women have to stand up for each other! We have to be kind to one another and listen; not just within our group but all groups of women.
10. Where in the world do you feel “tallest” (i.e. where is your happy place)?
I feel tallest when I’m with my daughter and working, being creative. It is empowering to feel my strength. It is a great feeling, knowing what my body and mind are capable of.
11. What extra-curricular activities/hobbies are you most proud of? Why?
I love yoga! I need it to help me move through life, to calm me down. I suffer from anxiety and what helps me is running. I run daily. It’s my therapy. I love that i have found healthy ways to help myself through the stresses of life.
12. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be able to take care of myself and my family by helping others live a healthy life. I want to be able to have the financial freedom to raise my daughter and not have to be gone all the time for work.
13. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?
I’m terrified of death. I pray and I have my faith and that helps. I’m constantly learning and making sure I reiterate to myself that life is short so live it, be present in the moment, live a happy and appreciative life.
14. Anything you'd do differently, if you had another go at life?
I would have given my mother more grace growing up! Now as a mother and a grown woman I understand her struggles and decisions better. I would have taken better care of my body if I was to have another go at life. Finally, I would live with more self-respect.
15. What inspires you?
Kind humans! Women! People fighting for what is right! Not afraid to stand up for the planet and humanity.
16. What are you hopeful about?
I have to be hopeful for the future, for women and this planet for my daughters future.
17. What are some ingredients to a good life?
Oils, prayer, exercise.
18. What is a quality you most love about yourself and why?
I’m honest. It doesn’t always work in my favor but I’m honest.
19. What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?
You are beautiful and smart.
20. What are you reading now? (what books do you gift most and what are your favourite reads?)
Nadia Boltz Webber’s books! She is my hero. She’s amazing. She is a feminist and a woman of faith.
21. Who is a WOW Woman in your world who inspires you and why? Can you nominate three (or more) women you know who perfectly fit WOW WOMAN description? What would you tell them if you had an opportunity, of why you admire them?
Nadia Boltz Webber is a WOW Woman for bringing others to faith and making us feel that god accepts us just as we are. She stands up for what is right, preaches the Bible in an honest and raw ways that may scare the shit out of some but hits home for so many of us.
My mother, for always doing what ever she had to do for us kids. For raising 3 kids and two special needs. For all that she did to get us all to where we are now.
My best friends JC & Carla. They are independent women who stand up for what is right in the world. They are strong women who fight for their happiness and lives. I feel blessed to have them in my life. Women supporting women!
Big shout out to the women at my church. They helped restore my husband and my faith in god! They were there for us, spreading only love and grace Jesus taught, while remaining amazing mothers at the same time! They rock!
22. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?