We had the good fortune of connecting with Ari Mostov and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ari, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
USC School of Cinematic Arts was my dream school. Once I was accepted into the screenwriting program, I knew that I was going to be a Hollywood writer, creating stories that impacted generations.

But in the winter of my Sophomore year, that dream became a nightmare.

In December 2012, I was raped by a fellow screenwriting classmate. My case made international headlines, becoming a part of the Title IX survivor-activism movement that centered survivors of sexual violence. My face and name became synonymous with ‘college rape’, yet all I wanted was to be working on my scripts and storyboarding my projects.

By May 2013, I was fighting hard to finish my spring semester, unsure what would come next. I was the “rape girl” and I wasn’t sure if I could even complete my internship at ColorForce, the prestigious production company behind The Hunger Games and Crazy Rich Asians. I buried myself in story development and script coverage, eager to escape into stories that weren’t my own and find some solace in scripts with happy endings.

And then it was time to select my classes and pay my tuition for the next semester. I was paralyzed with fear and heartache. I wasn’t sure if I could return to the program I built my life around. And if I didn’t return, what would I do?

But then I received a call. Not from reporters, lawyers or classmates. A call from the team at Hell’s Kitchen. They were staffing up and wanted to know if I would come in and interview for a position on their upcoming season.

I interviewed, not thinking anything of it since at that point I was just trying to survive and hoping for a job on a network TV show seemed inconceivable. Yet I got another call.

“Can you start August 1st?” the executive asked.

I remember holding my breath, unsure if this was a real offer. Did the executive know that I was the “rape girl”? Did he see the headlines? Did he really want me on his show?

He started reading out my resume, impressed with my previous internship on a reality TV network. His tone was kind yet straightforward. Our conversation couldn’t have lasted more than 3 minutes.

I took a deep breath, silently saying goodbye to USC and the screenwriting program.

“I’ll see you on August 1st.”

In that moment, my dream of creating stories pivoted in the most unexpected way. I went from learning storytelling to producing stories for global audiences. I was no longer the ‘rape girl’, I was an associate producer on a network TV show. Now was my time to create the stories that I wanted to see in the world.

I said goodbye to USC, accepting the fact that I wouldn’t finish the coveted program. But I found hope and a chance to thrive on set. I remain forever grateful to the Hell’s Kitchen crew for taking a chance on me.

Deciding to drop out of film school was not an easy choice. But saying ‘yes’ to opportunity when it presented itself was the best decision I’ve ever made. And now, over a decade later, I have built a life and career around storytelling that is changing culture, attitudes and even policy.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

To build the future, we need an irresistible story.

Too often we get caught up in the history of how things have always been done, lamenting that there’s not much we can do to fix complex problems like healthcare or climate change. We find ourselves held prisoner by these stories of the past, unable to imagine something better.

Yet as a narrative strategist, I use storytelling to mobilize us towards our desired future.

I have worked with Fortune 500 companies, startups, non-profits and individuals to build irresistible and inevitable futures — all through storytelling.

From a macro level, storytelling is how we make sense of our world. From the media we consume, the way we interact with each other, and even our dreams, we are storytelling creatures. We use story to make sense of everything around us.

So why not use storytelling to build what we desire? To build a better future?

With narrative strategy, I weave the threads of the stories we’re in, helping identify what we have in common so we can build a future we can all be a part of. This narrative becomes an actionable strategy, allowing participants to navigate the unknown with courage and creativity.

As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.”

And I would add, ‘the best way to create the future is through storytelling.’

To create the future, we must craft its story.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I always start a fun day in LA with breakfast. My favorite spot is the Horchateria Rio Luna in San Fernando. They have the most original and delicious coffees, churros and breakfast sandwiches. I highly recommend the marzipan frappe, and don’t forget churros with guava drizzle.

After breakfast, I love to head over to Hansen Dam and go for a walk-n-talk while sipping on my morning coffee.

I always recommend visiting Vinovore, which now has two locations — one in Silverlake and one in Eagle Rock! A fantastic wine shop with wine tastings, fun eats and cool trinkets, this store only sells women crafted wines and alcohol. Owner Coley de Haan is a trailblazer in the food and wine industry, developing unforgettable tasting experiences, beautiful gift boxes and more.

When looking for a fun evening, I always lean towards a comedy show. Luckily there is almost always a show or open mic every night of the week. I’m fond of Flapper’s Comedy Club in Burbank as they’re really amateur friendly and they have a great bar, In fact, I’ve performed there several times.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support of my loving husband, Alden Knowles. A true lover of stories and my anchor in the storm, Alden has provided me with sanctuary, inspiration and unconditional love throughout my entrepreneurial journey. I am forever grateful.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank SCORE LA for their phenomenal support as I launched my business.
Thank you!

Website: www.wellplay.world

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/ari-mostov

Other: https://medium.com/@arimostov

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