SAN MATEO, Calif., Dec. 4, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Out of a small town comes a big message: It's ok to be different. Movoto Real Estate congratulates agent Sandy Rusk for her work to raise awareness about alopecia, a rare autoimmune disorder that causes extreme hair loss affecting 6.5 million Americans. Rusk, a veteran Realtor with Movoto and principal broker in Fishers, IN, produced "Wig'd Out," a light-hearted movie based on her daughter's real-life struggles with alopecia. Take a sneak peek of the 'Wig'd Out' trailer on YouTube here.
Doctors diagnosed Sandy's daughter, Olivia, with alopecia when she was just two years old. For a while, Olivia wore an expensive wig which required a complicated adhesive system to stay on. Olivia enjoyed it at first, but after a while…not so much. The hair was hot and itchy, especially after racing around the playground.
So one day, halfway through the third grade, Olivia decided she would go back to school without the wig.
"I said 'What, you're going to arrive with no hair, none at all?" says Sandy, who was horrified that her eight-year-old daughter wanted to show up to school completely bald. Sandy was a single mother and Olivia was her only child; she was terrified Olivia would be relentlessly bullied.
But it didn't work out like that.
"For some reason, maybe being eight-years-old was the right age, or how the teacher handled it, and Olivia being as confident as she is, nothing bad happened," says Sandy. "That day changed the entire direction of our lives."
That day was 12 years ago. Since then, Olivia has been a motivational speaker to over 75 audiences throughout the United States and has appeared on various media, including "The Today Show," Seventeen, and USA Today. Sandy and Olivia founded Olivia's Cause, an anti-bullying support group that spreads alopecia awareness.
"Wig'd Out" is a feature film locally produced in the town of Noblesville, IN. It came to fruition after years of hard work and help from Noblesville merchants, businesses and actors - and Movoto Real Estate sponsorship.
In "Wig'd Out," the film's main character, Olivia (played by Noblesville local Georgia Simmons), works in a hair salon owned by her mother, an ex-beauty queen. Olivia's fictional mother, Flora (Cindy Maples), wants Olivia to don some wigs and grab pageantry gold just like she used to, but Olivia would rather hit the skate park to chase after a skater boy.
While Sandy helps sell homes instead of hair products, at its heart the film stays true to its inspiration.
"We took our story and fictionalized it somewhat," says Sandy. "I had initially felt like if Olivia didn't have a wig on, how would she be able to go out and be accepted? But I didn't want the film to be sad and dark; it's a light and happy movie about a serious subject. We wanted to show that being different doesn't mean anything bad."
Additionally, Sandy and Olivia just wrapped up a reality television show pilot which centers on a day-in-the-life in the office at Olivia's Cause. The show, which is currently being shopped to various networks, will center on a family struggling with alopecia each episode. For the pilot, Rusk surprised a seven-year-old boy with alopecia by having his idol, America Ninja Warrior star Kevin Bull (who also has alopecia), pay him an unexpected visit.
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