Now with over 10,000 stories submitted from young people around the world, Larissa is embarking on a new chapter of #HalfTheStory's mission that, in a sense, pays homage to her original artistic roots. The company currently aims to "reshape the way the next generation uses social media, through advocacy, education, and access." So far, she's activated this mission through a cross-pollination of content and experiences that bridge the divide between industries. These initiatives range from digital wellbeing programs to the core community-driven content on #HalfTheStory's Instagram page (to that point, Larissa also believes in the importance of remaining connected with your audience in new ways, and she's currently exploring storytelling opportunities on TikTok). A few notable offline initiatives include Brainfood, a performance series in partnership with Brunch Theatre, and a forthcoming film about modern therapy that #HalfTheStory will eventually bring to college and high school campuses nationwide. But like any mission-driven founder, Larissa understands that building a support system is integral to fully realizing one's vision.
When it comes to vital connections that have informed #HalfTheStory's success, it's worth mentioning that two members of #HalfTheStory's team derived from first connecting through the company's Instagram page. "For me, I think what's been interesting about this project is that by creating the nonprofit, it has allowed me to connect with people that are much further along in their career in a very humane way," Larissa shares. "It's almost been this vehicle for conversation where when you go in, we just cut to it. There's something so beautiful about that because, especially in a place like New York where there's so much pressure, and everyone's trying to be something or someone, it's this vehicle to strip back, be human and be able to talk about our needs."
This element of vulnerability also extends to #HalfTheStory's community members, too. Gabriela Weiss was one of the first people to submit to #HalfTheStory after tragically losing her brother to his battle with mental health. "Basically when that happened, this young woman is living in Bolivia where there's one psychologist per 100,000 people," Larissa adds, "for her, she wanted to use social media as a way to educate people in her local community about how they can get access to resources." After receiving Gabriela's story, Larissa worked closely with her to destigmatize mental health and find relevant resources in her community. Since then, Gabriela has become a prominent advocate for #HalfTheStory in her own community, and today, the duo's story is still unfolding. "Recently, I received a WhatsApp from Gabriela, and it was a photo of her with the #HalfTheStory phone and a TEDx. She gave a TEDx in Bolivia about mental health in social media and #HalfTheStory. For me to be able to see someone that came from such a time of vulnerability and loss come out on the other side and give a TED talk...to be a part of that experience is something I can't even put words to."