If you’ve seen the TV series Unreal, which airs on Lifetime in the United States, you’re familiar with Alex Sparrow (also known by his real name, Alexey Vorovyob) and his “Alexi” character, a ‘bad boy’ ballet dancer who is a contestant on Unreal‘s faux dating show. But in real life, Alex Sparrow was actually on Russia’s version of The Bachelor — as the titular guy — so he knows a thing or two about what goes on behind the scenes of reality television.
Sparrow — who was born in Russia, raised in Austria and now lives in Los Angeles — is a guy who could make a living doing just about anything. In addition to also appearing on Dancing With the Stars and The X Factor in his native Russia, he’s also a two-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner for Favourite Actor there. His music video for “She’s Crazy But She’s Mine” (which Alex Sparrow wrote, performed, directed and starred in) has over 16 million views on YouTube alone.
But the story of Alex Sparrow hasn’t always been a happy journey. Just as he was taking the first steps to take his career international, he was in a car accident that resulted in the left side of his body becoming paralyzed. Though doctors told him he’d never perform again, after a year and a half-long rehabilitation process he earned back his life and hasn’t looked back since.
Hornet recently sat down with Alex Sparrow, not to talk about Unreal or his many other on-screen projects but about a short clip he recently dropped about bullying.
“You should never let anyone make you feel like you’re not enough, he says in the video, posted below.
Here’s our chat with Alex Sparrow about his new anti-bullying message:
Tell me a bit about your personal experience with being bullied when you were younger.
When I was finishing fifth grade, I was listening to a lot of rap music, and Eminem was my favorite. I wanted to dress like him, so I would wear oversized clothes with a NY baseball cap and listen to my cassette player. Most of the teenagers in my neighborhood were more “skinheads,” though — they were shaving their heads, wearing military pants and listening to hard rock and heavy metal.
I was on my way to school with my headphones in when a few of those older skinhead guys grabbed me and threw me on the ground and started to punch me — just because I was wearing different clothes and listening to different music!
At the time I tried to fight back, but I couldn’t since they were much older and bigger while I was just a kid who played accordion and liked rap music. I guess that was one of the first times I understood we all have a right to be who we want to be, even though sometimes it’s painful, and we have to learn how to fight for it.
Was there something specific that inspired you to release this “Be True, Be You” video?
The second time I really experienced what it meant to be different was after my car accident. I had a massive stroke, and half of my body was paralyzed. I couldn’t speak, sing, dance or even walk anymore. The doctors told me I would never be able to get back to normal or be able to sing or perform onstage again.
I didn’t want to believe them. I hated myself the way I was, but that was because I was stuck looking backwards instead of forwards. I wasn’t seeing the future.
It took over a year to teach myself how to do everything again. I trained myself to walk, to talk and to sing again. I needed to prove them wrong, and I needed to find my future. Every day gives you a chance at a new beginning. You just have to be yourself and try to make the best out of who you really are. I had to learn from that experience of having everything I thought I knew about myself taken away. So that is where “Be True, Be You” came from.
Based on my own experience, I know for sure there are no limits to the human body. All the limits are in our mind. Everyone should decide for himself what he is and what he can achieve. And as long as you have a dream and a goal, you can achieve it no matter what others are telling you.
Is there a specific message you’re interested in delivering to the LGBTQ community?
No one in this world can tell who you should be and who you should love.