Alexis Jones is an author, activist, speaker, and host. Leveraging her entertainment background as a vehicle to empower youth, Lex launched I AM THAT GIRL, and quickly became an internationally recognized speaker, media personality, activist, and author. She has established herself as a thought leader for her generation and an expert on Gen Y. Recently, after being asked to speak to the 18 most influential high school quarterbacks in the country for an ESPNU TV show called Elite 11, she transitioned into empowering young women, through the empowerment of young men. Lex is working to broaden the narrow definition of “manhood” and instill in young men, the importance of respecting the girls and women in their lives through ProtectHer, a new curriculum designed to eliminate the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses — and looking to male athletes as part of the cure.
How did you go about developing ProtectHer, your sexual assault prevention curriculum targeted at male athletes? What was your inspiration behind it and what kind of resources did you tap into?
I came from the girl empowerment world and I founded a nonprofit called I Am That Girl. We have about a million girls involved and we just launched a chapter in our 24th country, and I only give that for context because that was like my first life and I did that for about a decade. So, the context for ProtectHer and how it came about was that I was given this opportunity to talk to boys and I realized there’s this total difference in content for young men. There’s all of this content for girls, empowering them and making them feel good about themselves, and there just wasn’t really anything readily available for boys. As far as where we tapped into for resources, there’s a woman named Barri Rosenbluth and she started the program Expect Respect here in Austin, TX for an organization called SAFE Alliance. We commissioned her to come in and our idea was kind of, how do we create some “edutainment”? How do we entertain while simultaneously educating? She was kind of our education arm as far as helping us write the curriculum and then Sara Bordo, who produced and directed the content, was the woman we brought in from the entertainment side, in terms of how do we make it feel like an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.
As an author/speaker/activist/founder of an organization, you have become a very successful entrepreneur. What advice would you give to aspiring young female entrepreneurs?
I think truthfully, Elizabeth Gilbert said it best and I’m totally going to butcher it, but it was just this idea, especially with millennials, I think it’s a blessing and a curse that we totally want to change the world. And while I think it’s awesome to have that kind of ambition, I think truthfully, the greatest thing that we can do is to really heal ourselves, to change our own world, and if through doing that, it ends up benefiting someone else, that’s amazing. But I think what I realized when I set out to “change the world” with I Am That Girl, was a very humble reminder that I actually was really just in desperate need of I Am That Girl for myself. I think that sounds counter intuitive, especially to women, because we’re like martyrs at heart. But I think for me, the greatest thing that I realized and the best advice that I have for entrepreneurs, is do what fills your heart up. And like I said, it sounds counter intuitive, but when we take the time to figure out what our passion even is, and we live that out fully, that is the greatest gift we can give anyone, much less the world.
You are the founder of I Am That Girl, a nonprofit organization empowering girls to be confident and realize their self worth. What does it mean to you to be “That Girl?”
I mean I think what was synonymous to me was work and progress. I think sometimes it’s easy to assume that if you teach confidence for a living, that you are confident. But I think the truth is we teach the things we struggle with the most, and I at least know that for myself. There’s nothing that I ever really talk about within I Am That Girl, whether it’s in the book or the organization, or speaking engagements, that I don’t struggle with everyday on a very real basis. So, I think what’s synonymous to me with being “That Girl” is that I am wonderfully and perfectly flawed.