Joelle is a 20 year old British singer-songwriter and filmmaker, born into unusual circumstances that gifted her with the ability to tell the most sincere and genuine stories through her creations.
After being given a zero percent chance of survival at birth and having no hair since the tender age of 8 (as a result of alopecia), she fought through her early life with music as a savior. Joelle believes that, even if the odds are against you, they should not have to define your fate.
Singing as a tiny toddler, she soon began entertaining her family with a games console microphone, eventually writing her own lyrics and poems. During primary school, she developed a painfully shy demeanor due to her classmates’ reaction to her looks. The ravages of bullying, which she endured daily at school and in public due to her special appearance, led to her becoming almost mute among her peers. Eventually she broke out of her shell with the unconditional love and support of her family. Her road to music and filmmaking began as a family project with the mini-viral music video, Big In LA, filmed while on vacation in Los Angeles when she was just 13. Her musical film creation received an outpouring of praise from the public.
Big In LA was a pivotal moment in Joelle's life as a teen, winning several film festival awards and promptly introducing her to TV reporters, newspaper reporters, and radio DJs, all wanting to know about her life-changing music and filmmaking journey. Soon after appearing on TV in the US and UK following worldwide press coverage, she decided to hone her skills, engaging in vocal training in London, England and Atlanta, Georgia. She recorded with some of the biggest musicians in the country music scene in Nashville. Taylor Swift's drummer, Johnny Cash's bassist, and Wynonna Judd's guitarist were among many who assisted her as she developed her sound.
Joelle sees creative vision everywhere. Her stories are the product of an unusual youth, a journey full of miracle, joy, and pain, the seeds needed for relating the most difficult narratives in song and on screen. At the age of 19, after achieving the highest grade attainable at film school, Joelle directed her first film, Cover Up, featuring exclusive recordings with music and lyrics created by Diane Warren, performed by Joelle.
Her performance talent can be described as a distinctively genuine style, seldom found within an industry that commonly overuses the word “authentic.” Joelle's magnetism attracts people to watch, listen, and join her as one big family from all over the world, sharing her music and her message.
At the age of 15, Joelle was appointed Young Person's Ambassador for Alopecia UK, the largest alopecia charity in the country. As part of her ambassadorial role, she meets children, parents, family members, and friends at support groups and events, giving advice and sharing insights from the beginning of her journey to where she has arrived today. She has also performed bullying prevention talks with thousands of children in America.
Joelle's international media coverage and extensive online presence attract people from all over the world, who join her in spreading positivity through sharing their own experiences. She has also made regular appearances to millions of people online with makeup tip videos, forming a community for those without local support groups. Joelle influences others to have a different attitude towards having no hair, enabling people to understand that hair is an accessory, not a necessity. Through her online community, she fulfills one of her greatest desires: spreading the message that it is more than ok to have no hair -- it is something to be proud of. Her message encourages people to embrace and celebrate who they are, with or without hair.
Joelle believes in acceptance for all, in providing a voice for those who experience life's changes beyond their control and, in many cases, for those who are in control. "Acceptance spreads like wildfire through understanding and education," Joelle states. "As soon as people connect and understand, they immediately smile and celebrate the gift they have, of being able to become a better person with an elevated understanding."
Joelle strongly believes that education is the way forward in helping the world see that alopecia shouldn't affect one’s way of living. It's only society's misunderstanding of the importance of hair that has depicted this as a tragedy. Joelle mentions on her Instagram that, as a child, she "felt pressured by society to feel upset…"
While parts of the media continue to present a negative outlook about alopecia, Joelle inspires many with her own positive perspective, which can be understood through some of her most profound and thought-provoking statements: "I don't wear make-up to feel secure. I wear make-up to make society feel secure, and that's why sometimes I don't wear make-up," Joelle states on the UK's BBC.
From her early teens, Joelle has explained her position on bullying and addressed her beliefs about the strength, resolve, and defiance that those being bullied should hold onto. As Joelle exclaims on ABC News in America, "If they're being bullied for trying to be who they are, they just have to stay who they are!"
Earlier comments by Joelle in the China Times describe the leap of faith that she had to take in embracing the real “her”, in what appears to be a straightforward choice when reading her statement: "I used to wear a wig...Now I am brave enough to take off my wig and show what I look like as me."
But what appears to be a simple decision is by no means simple at all, as Joelle understands all too well. Even though deciding to "come out" seems like a simple declaration to make, the journey leading up to making it a reality can be very complicated. In Joelle's case, it was something she never saw coming, the life-changing moment when she not only knew she could live with alopecia, but she could embrace it, as Buzzfeed cites her: "I’ve now embraced my alopecia. I remember going to Wimbledon one year and wearing my bright neon-green wig and lots of people came up to me and gave me a high five, and it was awesome. I think that maybe no one knew I had no hair – they thought I had just put on a wig to get into the spirit of the event. That was the first day of my new life with alopecia where I felt normal again and fully accepted by society."
Joelle now reflects, "It was not until later that I realised that I was not protecting myself all these years, but other people, from what they didn't understand. I realised that I was only able to embrace my alopecia because people were embracing my hiding it, even though they didn't know it at the time."
These statements illustrate how complicated a journey can be, but even if it becomes overwhelming, there are always positive ends to be found waiting. People just need to embrace their bravery to find them.
One of Joelle's most inspiring characteristics is her consistent view of the future: "It's 2020 next year and the world has changed so much in a decade. Alopecia represents just one part of life's progressively growing melting pot of amazing qualities to be found in people. Through parts of the media and the internet, millions have learned acceptance of others. Because we are all different in so many interesting ways, we have the opportunity to celebrate our differences and grow a greater sense of understanding, which connects us all. We can all feel pain. We can all feel joy. We are people with a future to understand each other together and not alone."