My name is Andy Signore, and I am a successful content creator responsible for such popular brands as ScreenJunkies, Honest Trailers, Man At Arms and more...
Two years ago I made some deeply personal mistakes that greatly affected my life and many I loved. I was immensely unfaithful to my ex-wife, and was caught flirting online with my fans. One of those fans exploited these inappropriate transgressions, turning a completely consensual affair - into false allegations of sexual assault and abuse.
While my flirtation with fans as a content creator was indeed questionable and a mistake - It was the specific criminal charges that crippled me - turning any flirtation I ever made into malicious and predatory behavior. My fanbase and colleagues upset with the news - and caught up in the first few days of the #MeToo movement, bought my false accuser’s story hook, line and sinker.
They allowed her to lead a social media mob to terminate my employment, scorch my name and livelihood.
I didn’t know how to prove my innocence in a “he said / she said” accusation like this - until I realized that google had archived all of my deleted messages - allowing me to revisit our chat logs, emails and photos, - and proving my accuser was not being truthful. This week, after finally settling my case - I released a video that finally showed the truth. I implore you all to watch it in full when you can:
For two years, while I pursued legal action - I was forced to hold onto all of this information that could help clear my name… People moved on, and my name was sullied, so I took that time to rebuild. First internally by bettering myself mentally and physically, looking at myself hard in the mirror, and developing healthier ways to move forward.
Then I stepped back online, against the wishes of the internet, to push through the trolls and begin stretching my creative muscles, which had been dormant for too long. While years ago I made content that reached millions, now I was only reaching hundreds. It humbled me. I kept moving forward always telling myself - be honest, keep going… if you build it they will come.
My story this week went viral - my genuine change in character was noticed - and it prompted positive support from fans new and old. In a remarkable turn, beyond my wildest dreams - It became clear that many wanted to give me a second chance.
As I stood in this new spotlight I realized how grateful I was for the opportunity to rebuild - and as thousands of messages of support came in - so did messages from others who had been screwed over - or falsely accused - some weren’t as lucky to have saved their evidence.
I was inspired - So I ended up speaking to some of these people directly on the phone. Some of the stories were heartbreaking. People living with the shame of mistakes they made -that were often blown out of proportion, and never being able to share their side of the story, to have the possibility of forgiveness.
It really gave me pause, and a giant burst of creative inspiration.
I want to tell their stories.
During my recovery period, a close friend sent me this exchange about forgiveness, between Robert Downey Jr and Mel Gibson.
Mr. Robert Downey Jr. said: If I accepted responsibility for my wrong doings and if I embrace that part of my soul that was ugly - hugging the cactus - he calls it - he said that if I hug the cactus long enough I’d become a man of some humility, and that my life would take on a new meaning. And I did. And it worked. All he asked in return, was that someday I help the next guy, in some small way.
Those two years of mine, while the world continued to label me a monster - I was left alone with my mistakes, my shame, my grief and my anger… I was forced to see parts of me that I didn’t like. By hugging my own cactus as long as I did, I found new reasons to be a better man.
Regardless of the gravity of our mistakes, falling down can unleash honest self reflection, and make us better people. As I read countless stories from others sharing their struggles with no platform to speak and just needing to be heard - I realized I could take my editing and story-telling skills and use my new spotlight - to help others who deserve a second shot.
When you’ve been publicly shamed - and wrongfully accused - the world goes dark - and you begin to lose your own self worth. I am so grateful to see the light slowly turning back on for me, but there are so many people out there that don’t have the platform that I do. This project is a chance for all of us to help provide a glimpse of that healing light for others who are lost.
To give them a platform to be heard. To help them stop hugging their cactus, and finally light a path to move forward.
I’m calling this series: HUGGING THE CACTUS
And I’ve never been more passionate about a personal project.
My first goal was to crowd-fund $10,000, and was met via Kickstarter:
I will be building season 1 of a new podcast brand that will allow me to have reoccurring long-form conversations with folks who deserve second chances, and have their personal stories be heard. I also want people to share their own "Honest Failures" if you will - and how they were able to stand back up and grow from them. These stories will be inspirational, emotional and funny. I expect Season 1 of this podcast series to have 10 Episodes.
Many who missed the fundraising deadline have asked, how can I help?Well my next goal is $30,000, to find a worthy story, and build a video pilot of a new docu-series version of this show. Hundreds have reached out to me with their stories, I'll take the time to find the right people, fly out to them and build mini-documentaries to tell and share their story.
I implore you to join me, by helping GoFundMe this new brand and first season - by helping however much you can. I’ve included some great incentives and I can’t wait to get started on this journey with you all of you.
- Christopher Walker
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