By Rich Henrich
She tangos, she cha-cha’s, she serves as a member of the Junior League of Palm Springs, and is active with Companions Visitation Ministry of Sacred Heart Church. You know her face as the morning anchor of KESQ News Channel 3. You’ve seen her grace the red carpet with the elegance of a classical movie star and interview some of the biggest names in entertainment with wit and intention. Perhaps you remember her live coverage of the September 2014 flood that garnered her an Emmy nomination (and CV Weekly’s 2014 Best TV Personality). Palm Springs Life named her one of the most successful people (‘40 Under 40’) in the Coachella Valley. Most recently, she was honored with the 416th star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, the youngest person, at 28, to ever receive one. What you probably don’t know is behind her Ford Model like eyes, hides the spirit of a fierce and determined peaceful warrior ever striving to give a voice to the voiceless- the children and animals of the Coachella Valley.
It began in the fall of 2011 when Bianca Rae moved to Palm Springs, alone and far from family, she soon fell in love with Jack, her lifelong Valentine, a homeless dog at the shelter where she volunteered. She wrapped her love in Superman blankets and knew he was ‘The One.’ This relationship inspired Bianca to launch the Bianca Rae Foundation to help underprivileged children and homeless shelter animals. Bianca has always served as a voice for the voiceless, through her advocacy reporting on local television. Through her foundation, she continues to take action for them. Whether it’s sponsoring spay and neuter clinics for low income families to be able to sterilize their pets, or fundraising for shelter animals to get spayed and neutered to make them more adoptable, Bianca has long served the valley’s neglected animals. In addition, she works with children’s organizations as well to help disadvantaged youth and created Rae of Hope, an annual leadership retreat for middle school girls. The girls learn about leadership, self-love, anti-bullying and inner beauty from dynamic women in industry.
I recently had the pleasure to learn a bit more about this TV personality, humanitarian and philanthropist.
CVW: Congratulations on your star! How does it feel to have this honor bestowed upon you?
BIANCA RAE: “There is a commission, and a whole process that I didn’t know about, including the Mayor and they all vote. I was most excited about being honored as a humanitarian not just being a TV personality. They wanted to honor all my work but especially the work the Bianca Rae Foundation has contributed to the community. So it says TV Personality, Journalist and Humanitarian on it!”
CVW: Do you feel having the platform as a journalist and TV personality always you to do the work you really love to do?
BR: “Yeah, 100%. It’s so funny, I feel like it’s not that being a journalist is not my calling I mean obviously it is but I do think my calling is to make the impact that I’m having and being a journalist is the platform that has given me the ability to really do the humanitarian work. I do feel like this is where I belong and where I am supposed to be right here in this moment. I know this is exactly what I am meant to be doing with my life and that’s a really calming feeling.”
CVW: The more that you do to honor the Valley, it seems like the more the Valley embraces you.
BR: “Yeah, that’s so true.”
CVW: How did you begin your journey in journalism?
BR: “Since I was younger, I didn’t know the term for it but I knew what I was good at. I was always starting conversations and forging relationships whether at the grocery store or getting my nails done. I’ve always been social and inquisitive. I was recently home and met with my middle school teacher and asked her what she remembered about me. She said I always asked ‘why?’ I think that was a journalist in the making.”
CVW: How did you become involved with advocacy?
BR: “I was always fond of animals, but also that kid that was trying to make the classroom better or sticking up for the kid getting picked on. I was always that kid. All those traits put together lead to where I am now, a humanitarian and Journalist who likes the advocacy aspects of being a journalist. We can do these stories and put a spotlight on issues, whether that’s through reporting or the platform we have to bring attention to issues that really matter.”
CVW: Since coming to the desert, you’ve been given a lot of responsibility. What is your favorite part of the job?
BR: “The platform. I noticed really early on people cared what I had to say. They watched what I did and listened to what I had to say. I wanted to choose to do something positive with that. I can use the platform to do a lot of good.”
CVW: What’s hard about having such a platform?
BR: “You know…a lot of celebrities and people with platforms abuse it. I want respect not attention. I’m sure if I posted a sexy bikini photo I would get a lot more likes, the whole sex sells thing, but I want people to go to my Instagram not to see my body, but to see what I’ve done, to see what impact I’ve made. To me that’s really flattering.”
CVW: What’s hard about being in the public eye for you?
BR: “Um, gosh…that’s a good question. Sometimes it is hard, if you are having a bad day and you are at the grocery store and five people come up to you, and I love that and am grateful for that and I like meeting people. Someone is always watching and they come up to me and I thank them for giving me a job! But sometimes you are having a bad day and want to just run in to the store and grab something, you’ve received some really bad news or you are in a bad mood. You can’t let that show or be put on to people because they are excited to meet you or get the chance to talk with you. I don’t like it when someone blows me off so I try really hard not to do it. But it’s hard when you are standing in line at an emotional low point going through a break-up with a tub of ice cream and someone comes up to you and you’re like ‘no!’”
CVW: How do you manage your public and private lives? Is it hard to manage time?
BR: “Yeah, I wish that I had more of myself to give to people. I do feel like I spread myself thin sometimes and I hope people don’t feel like they are not getting all of me. I will accept too many invitations on the same night but I hate disappointing people. My mom says I need to slow down and not burn out and take care of myself! I love people so much and do all I can to be there for them. Sometimes it’s tough because it’s 9pm and I’m thinking…oh my gosh, I need to be up in five hours. The positive is that people appreciate me and want me around and that’s an amazing feeling as well. I have high expectations of life and perhaps a weakness of mine is I can get disappointed easily and I don’t want to let anyone down. I try really hard not to disappoint anyone whether it’s the person I’m dating or a best friend or a family member or the public. Sometimes the repercussions of that, is I do get a little drained or a little run down but it’s worth it.”
CVW: What brings you joy?
BR: “Gosh, for being such an out there, getting dressed up person I can actually be kind of a home body. I love when I have nothing going on and can make dinner and just sit on the couch and watch a movie with Jack (her rescue dog and love of her life), he is the man in my life. I love going out to eat, I love, love, love eating, you know I’m Italian and Greek, I love trying new restaurants but in order to do all of that I have to work out, to you know, maintain my figure. I do boot camp classes and really love working out. I love weekend getaways, I love hotels and I love country music!” (And I hear she likes corn dogs and baseball, too…Go White Sox!)
CVW: This is surprising to me!
BR: “Really? It’s literally 98% of what I listen to, especially when I am getting ready in the morning. Poor Tom Tucker, we do our make up together and he has to listen to it! It’s soothing to me whether I’m happy or stressed. There is a song for all occasions.”
CVW: Who are some of your favorite country acts?
BR: “I love Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt- he was great last year at Stagecoach. I’m really into Parmalee right now. I live a glamorous life but I come from a smaller town in Illinois and country songs remind you of what’s important in life, you know, time spent together over a bucket of fried chicken and a cheap bottle of wine. The rest is surface level fun but what matters most in life are the elements of country music. There’s that line from “Homegrown” by…who is it (Zac Brown Band)…it’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want. That line always makes me think. It’s a plot of land, a woman at home who loves you, great friends that really matter. We think we know what we want but we carry they weight of what we think we want and what it takes to live a great and happy life. We carry this weight of what we think we want.”
CVW: Speaking of what really matters, the Bianca Rae Foundation. Tell me about the happiness you bring through the Foundation.
BR: “It started when I adopted Jack from the shelter in Indio. I didn’t grow up in a high society home or going to galas and balls, I had no idea what I was doing I just wanted to raise money. I met with the police chief of Indio and he introduced me to a woman who helped me put together a luncheon. I was thinking maybe 50 people and 200 showed up. I learned a lot about non-profit management and leadership since then. Our mission is two-fold to give a voice for the voiceless and I believe that’s kids and animals. We help with adoptions and funding some costs to spay or neuter as well as pay for gas and hotels for drivers to deliver adopted dogs.”
CVW: You are also doing some incredible work with the next generation of women.
BR: “Thank you. This will be the 4th Rae of Hope Retreat for middle school girls. Last year we had 400 and this year we hope to have 500. It’s a one-day retreat, where we teach them about self-love and social media safety as well as leadership. I share with them how I was bullied and how to deal with how to handle those situations.”
CVW: How can we help?
BR: “It would be great to have Selena Gomez or Emma Watson or other tween celebrities if you know any! We also need volunteers, sponsors (and donors). Early registration is next Saturday June 17th at Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa from 10am-2pm.”
CVW: We certainly wish you well and I will definitely join you on the Bianca Bus to Betterment!
For more information and to donate, go to biancaraefoundation.org
(Photos By Aponte Photography)