let's press past fear and pursue your passion.
i look forward to finding your passion with you. - Sadie
Sadie Robertson is well known for her dimples and engaging smile, but there is a lot more to the 19-year-old star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and runner up on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars Season 19.
In late 2014, Sadie Robertson arrived at a crossroads. Fresh off a runner-up finish on Season 19 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, the then-17-year-old saw her life swirling into a bubble of fame and glitz and paparazzi; it was fun, yes, but also she recalls, a decidedly non-normal and uncomfortable existence. “People looked at me differently,” the Louisiana native first introduced to the world as a star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, says. “I wasn’t sure I liked the fame. I don’t see myself like that.” A devoted woman of strong Christian faith, Robertson wanted to use this opportunity to make an impact on the world.
“My passion is to speak, to write, to encourage,” Robertson says proudly. And with more than 5 million followers on her various social platforms, the young woman saw she had a direct line of communication to her peers. Specifically, she recognized she could be positive voice to those in dire need of an inspiring, non-judgmental presence in their lives. Now, in only a few years, she’s become one of the most prominent voices of her generation. Whether as an author or motivational speaker, the 20-year-old speaks with profound grace and clarity. Last year, the author of the New York Times best-seller Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values embarked on her 16-city “Live Original Tour,” where she met thousands of teens and their families and spread her message of self-confidence and positivity. This fall, she’ll be back on the road for another set of sure-to-be inspiring tour.
Robertson says she’s fully embraced her role as a beacon of light in an oft-dark world. What her peers need right now, Robertson says, “is someone they can relate to and be encouraged by. Basically to be a sister they didn’t have or a friend they need.” She points to the overwhelming swell of support following her 2015 YouTube video — recorded “just out of the shower and with pajamas and no makeup on” during which she speaks her truth of the destructive nature of jealousy and the power of God. Robertson says she wanted others to know all facets of her — not just the glitz and glamour. “America saw me in my good moments, but they didn’t see the real moments: the backstage, the scared feelings I had. They didn’t get to see the struggle.” It’s why she has the word “Fearless” tattooed on her wrist and why she decided she needed to embark on the “Live Original” tour. “I wanted to connect to people’s hearts without the screen,” she explains. “I realized I needed to go out to do it.”
Deliberate, well-spoken and confident in her message, Robertson, who is currently working on Live Fearless -- the follow-up to her best-selling book -- that chronicles her “journey of finding freedom,” understands many of her peers now view her as a role model. With that, of course, comes pressure and expectations. But she doesn’t let that impede her purpose. “People always say ‘Are you scared you’re going to mess up?’ I truthfully don’t feel that pressure now,” she offers. “Literally every single time I’ve been vulnerable is when people connect with me the most. Somehow in society we’ve fooled ourselves into thinking you have to be perfect and have this perfect image. But nobody relates to that. It’s not real.”
Additionally, Robertson has long poured her heart into philanthropic efforts. Her latest and most notable effort is One Squad, a foundation she created in conjunction with Help One Now, a non-profit organization committed to empowering and resourcing local leaders all over the world who care for vulnerable children in order to transform communities and break the cycle of extreme poverty. One Squad, she says, was created to be “millennial-driven,” and inspire young people to come together a make a difference in the lives of those in need. To date, Robertson notes the organization having built a dorm in Uganda for 60 girls and saving children from starvation after a devastating hurricane in Haiti. This year she plans to take trips on behalf of One Squad to Peru and the Dominican Republic. Creating lasting and self-sustaining change in these communities, she adds, is what truly inspires her. “The mission is not to go fix something real fast,” she says. “Let’s create a way so they can sustain it and then the local people who help make the change can be the heroes.”
For Robertson, each day going forward represents an opportunity to continue spreading her message and directly impacting the lives of others in a positive way. “When I wake up I’m so excited,” she says with a smile. There’s an optimistic rush, she says, when she’s onstage speaking or when she learns of people heeding her book’s message. But, she notes, “it’s all about the car rides and conversations people have after I speak or the moment spent by themselves after they read my book. That’s so powerful. The impact is incredible to witness.”