1,000 Dreams Fund
By Megan Wadding, July 2016 Issue.
You may recognize Farrah Krenek from her role in the Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black.”
Just ahead of the show’s highly anticipated third season, the actress and activist has landed a new leading role: She’s the face of the 1,000 Dreams Fund, a movement to empower young women in the United States through scholarships and advice on what it takes to reach their career goals and dreams.
According to Christie Garton, the fund’s founder and creator, millions of girls across the U.S. have dreams about what they want to do with their lives, but they lack the resources to make those dreams a reality.
“Our primary mission is to provide deserving young women with scholarships because we believe big expenses should never stand in the way of big dreams,” Garton said. “We kept hearing from young women how difficult it is to find funding … [and] I wanted to do something about it.”
“We are an inclusive scholarship program focused on empowering young women everywhere,” said Christie, who added that any young women in high school or college who needs funding for an extracurricular that they believe will help them reach their dream career can apply for funding.
“Together, our goal is to seek solutions,” said Christie. “Our 1,000 Dreams name reflects our bold commitment to fund 1,000 real girls. Once we reach it, we will set our next big goal.”
Farrah Krenek. Courtesy photos.
According to Krenek, when Garton contacted her about about getting involved, she was immediately intrigued and onboard.
“[Garton] spoke to me about ... how she had a vision to help provide funding to make dreams a reality for these girls and educate this generation on more than what it sees with modern technology,” Krenek explained. “[She] wanted me to be their voice and their inspiration ... by sharing my story and teaching them that even with a difficult past, you can create the future that you envision. She wanted me to teach the youth what its like to be beautiful, just by being you.”
Once Krenek understood the mission of the Dreams Fund, she said she knew this would be the “most important role” yet.
“It was my absolute obligation to teach these girls that live in a 'digital generation' where true beauty comes from and how important it is to believe in yourself and know that you are worthy,” Krenek said. “Giving them this moral boot camp and helping them with the scholarships gives them two of the most important weapons for survival: Knowledge and self-worth.”
Krenek, who grew up in New York, recalls being a victim of bullying.
“There was no social media of any kind that would create rapid awareness of what I was going through,” she said. “It was just the old-fashioned parent/teacher conferences and notifying the teachers if there was something getting out of hand.”
Krenek remembered an incident in high school when the other girls would not allow her to use the restroom. She cites this incident was a catalyst for wanting to help others.
“They'd scream and create a scene on purpose,” Krenek said. “By creating drama, they successfully managed to get me kicked out of the bathroom when I really needed to use it. The gym teachers allowed me to use their bathroom in the basement which was genuinely kind. They did the best they could.”
According to Krenek, facing bullying only made her stronger, and she made a choice to utilize her pain for good.
“I could have become the most miserable, most resentful person, most angry [person] at what I went through, but I decided to turn my poison into medicine. I wanted to help people. I wanted to become the person I needed when I was younger,” Krenek said. “I wanted to [be] a voice of understanding to anyone that felt they were misunderstood. The most beautiful thing God ever gifted us with is life [is] seeing another person smile and get better and have hope and see that sparkle in their eye, knowing that tomorrow will be a better day.”
Krenek explained that, although she admired many actors growing up, there was never really one with whom she felt that she could identify.
“Nobody looked like me. If they were gay, they weren't very 'rough or masculine' looking, so it was easy to hide. With me, it was painfully obvious,” Krenek explained. “I'd always search for her on television, [but] never found her. So, I made the decision that I was going to stop looking for her and become her. I said, I don't know where the other girls that are like me are, but one day I'll be the face they were looking for and I'll be their voice.”
Today, Krenek called being part of the strong, female-centered cast on "Orange is the New Black" a blessing.
“You have so many women from all over that contribute to their characters, to set, to you ... They share their humor and conversation throughout every day,” Krenek said. “Every woman compliments the day by adding a bit of themselves to it. [There is] never a dull moment.”
Today, Krenek takes pride in her goal of being the first person that comes to mind when a casting director is in search of a lesbian leading lady.
“I want to be the face on-screen for all the gay women and entire LGBT community and even to those that are not a part of the community, but [who] feel lost, misunderstood, unloved and abandoned,” Krenek said. [I’d like them] to know that there is an actress here that won't just portray a role, but will also be their voice and will understand.”
Aside from excitedly anticipating the season four premiere of "Orange is the New Black" (which releases on Netflix June 17), Krenek is also currently busy working on a new project called Feed the Beast, which just starting filming earlier this spring.
“It's all new, but again, it's yet another opportunity to give a part of myself on set,” Krenek said. “I'm also working on a few other projects so you'll have to keep an eye out for me.”
For more information, or to apply, visit 1000dreamsfund.org.