It took Chéri Ballinger over four years to recover from a traumatic brain injury, but now she’s more motivated than ever. A movie producer, speaker, ambassador and entrepreneur whose aim is to “make changes in people’s lives”, she’s got many strings to her bow. Here Chéri talks about restarting her life, the serendipity that got her into movies, and why she thinks it’s important to be elegant.
How did you become a movie producer?
I was a model and an actress for a number of years before I had a terrible fall and traumatic brain injury in early 2014. After being out of the world and recovering for over four years, I miraculously got better. I never thought I’d ever have a life again – that’s what I was told. It’s a whole story that I now share as a speaker, but I really had to restart my life.
“An opportunity came to me to be one of the executive producers of a film called ‘Roe v Wade’. After that, other films started coming my way, it was so organic.”
I even studied homeopathic medicine in London at the time, as I was open to what path my life was taking. I never imagined being a movie producer, but it fits me perfectly.
What avenues has your life taken since then?
One thing was certain – I wanted to help people. I went through so much for years and it’s something that I would never want anyone else to have to experience, and yet it’s so common. A really inspiring non-profit called Pink Concussions had been in contact with my mom while I was recovering, and when I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, they kindly invited me to speak at the National Institutes of Health in Washington D.C. It was scary for me to do that, and yet so exciting! Soon after I became the US ambassador for an incredible non-profit based in Switzerland, the Women’s Brain Project. Now I’m the ambassador for several others around the globe.
How does your work as a motivational speaker contribute to society?
Through hope. I feel so humbled and honoured to speak because I really want to make a difference in society, to bring people hope. There’s so much suffering out there right now and I really, truly can relate – at one point, I had to learn how to talk again. However, there is always hope. Sharing my story, and then sharing what I do now with my life, brings me so much joy. People often thank me and I cannot convey enough how fulfilling that is.
What are your biggest achievements as a businesswoman?
Everything goes full circle. When I decided that I wanted to help people and make a difference with my second chance at life, that really translated into business too. I’ve had the opportunity to invest in some incredible companies like LifeStoryHealth, which I believe are going to be change-makers. I’m working on a few startups with that same mentality. When you think about what you can contribute to make people healthier and the world a better place, it really guides your direction. I also want to bring elegance back! I always say: “Elegance elevates”. When you work on bettering yourself in every aspect of your life, elegance is that inner beauty that shines. I can give a whole other interview on this! Stay tuned for my business achievements… I’m just getting started!
What upcoming projects are you looking forward to?
I’m working on six films right now and it’s just crazy, but once they’re finished, I think they’re going to change the world. Film is an incredible medium for inspiration and beauty. People want to see great films again.
“I love films that inspire and teach you. Films about the human condition, what we all go through and what we can all overcome. I like comeback, feel-good movies.”
I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be and on the cusp of bringing that to the world. I can’t say more than that for now, except to watch out, we’re bringing great movies back to the big screen…