Happy New Year from TeenLIVE! For our first TeenLIVE event in 2012, we were lucky enough to hear from teen author and activist Gaby Rodriguez about her book, The Pregnancy Project. Seeing the effect of teen pregnancy on her family and peers, the straight A student decided to stage a pregnancy for a senior project at school to combat stereotypes and gossip. The day after she revealed that her pregnancy was, in fact, fake, her life was blown into a media whirlwind! News outlets swarmed her small town of Toppenish, Washington, and less than a year later, she’s flying across the country to Hollywood and New York City for talk show and radio appearances, book signings and tours, and magazine photo shoots. Rodriguez is Washington state’s 2011 ACLU Youth Activist award winner, and a movie based on the book, starring Alexa Vega of Spy Kids fame, is now playing on Lifetime. All of this while tackling her freshman year of college!
The Hamilton Grange Library’s Teen Center was the perfect place for the event. The stadium seating was nearly packed, and Rodriguez was front and center on stage. The awesome layout of the center, paired with Rodriguez’s great laid back personality, created an atmosphere for personal experiences and asking questions. Being skyrocketed into the spotlight wasn’t easy, but Rodriguez is still completely down to earth. The audience was full of “what if”s, from “What if your fake baby bulge would’ve fallen out at school?” to “What if you were actually pregnant? After this project, what would your family say?” She answered questions about the impact her project had on those around her, and her fears, strengths, and weaknesses. She even doled out some helpful advice about talking to siblings and, considering she has seven of her own, she’s somewhat of an expert on the subject.
A teen author who’s just about to enter her twenties, Rodriguez talked about the teen writers that have influenced her. She’s a huge Ellen Hopkins fan! She was thrilled to find out TeenLIVE hosted Ellen Hopkins (see our September event). She’s also got Lady Gaga’s latest album on heavy rotation (and you can find all that’s hot in the music world in Anne's recent blog post). At the end of the night, the teens of Hamilton Grange Library had an opportunity to speak with the author one-on-one, and everyone went home with a signed copy of her book. Rodriguez didn’t go into her project intending to write a book, but now that she has, who knows what she’ll do next!