If you envision yourself in a situation strongly enough, that vision potentially manifests itself in your future reality. And when we take the time to envision ourselves in positive situations, it displays self-confidence, optimism, and the ability to look more deeply at ourselves. In essence, we can truly be ourselves without restrictions, inhibitions or regrets. This also constitutes personal freedoms, personal triumphs, and personal rewards. Ultimately, we are able to pave the way for any vision when we believe in it wholeheartedly. Sarah Hanlon proved this theory when she envisioned and pursued her ultimate dream to compete on the hit Canadian reality series Big Brother Canada, on season 3. Sarah Hanlon was simply herself, with a big vision. We show how her outstanding victory played out in this Twelve High Chicks interview.

Interviewing Sarah Hanlon

JR - What was your childhood like growing up?

SH - I grew up in Brampton, Ontario with a very diverse crowd of friends and schoolmates. I loved my youth, I had a really innocent childhood — we didn’t have much but we were always spoiled with love and good times. I still played make believe with the neighborhood kids when I was 12 and 13 and stuff. Very close to my family: two older brothers and an older sister. Then I moved to Airdrie, Alberta when I was in my teens and stayed there until after university. Made new friends and learned to appreciate nature more out west, and of course discovered the weed in the west.

JR - What values did your parents/guardians teach you growing up?

SH - My parents were all about respecting people and I thank them so much for that. It’s really the only rule I live by: put yourself in other people’s shoes. And my mom always told me never say something about someone you wouldn’t say to their face — I keep that with me to this day.

JR - What were some rules you had at home growing up, and did you agree with them?

SH - I always agreed with the rules my parents set because they were reasonable. I was allowed to watch any TV and movies I wanted and that’s all I cared about (hahah). I was allowed to swear — just not at anybody. I was allowed to stay out late — I just had to let them know where I was and check in. Super great parents and I was never too scared to go to them for help.

JR - Did you ever rebel as a teenager?

SH - I was super angsty and, like, rebelled in weird ways. I skipped school a lot, but I knew the importance of learning and loved my teachers, but hated the social aspects … and, you know, getting up at 8 am. So I would skip but I would come in later in the afternoon and be like “Mr. Davidson, I know I missed first period but I am gonna stay late and make it up.” The teachers either loved me or hated me. I smoked and stuff but was never too irresponsible. I just wanted to watch TV and eat — maybe sneak into a movie.

JR - Did you play any sports or do any extracurricular activities in school? E.g. soccer, track and field, band?

SH - I loved drama club; I made lead in the Crucible. I also played the tenor sax in band.

JR - What did you aspire to be when you were younger?

SH - I wanted to be a lawyer, comedian, writer or filmmaker.

JR - Did you have any gifts or talents as a child or teen?

SH - I feel like I’ve been the exact same person for the last 23 years, I was super smart as like a 7 year old and haven’t really got much smarter (haha).

JR - What would you say are your best attributes (don’t be modest)?

SH - I just love people and I hope I see the best in people. That’s sensitive, or relatable? I don’t know. Plus I feel I am very passionate and that gets me far in anything I have ever attempted.

JR - What inspires you? It can be anything. Describe?

SH - Love and laughter. Nothing is better than when people are happy — smiling. New Orleans is the greatest place in the world to me and inspires me in so many ways: the music, the food, the traditions and culture. and I feel like you can feel the love and happiness of the people there like no other place.

JR - How old were you when you first used cannabis? Describe your first experience.

SH - The first time I smoked I though I didn’t feel anything, a typical response, but 20 minutes later when me and all my friends were waiting anxiously by the door for the Domino’s we knew what was up.

JR - Recently, dispensaries (and lounges) in Toronto have been raided by Toronto Police Services. Any thoughts about this current situation?

SH - I think it’s a disgrace, and I think that it will go down in Canadian history as a 100% embarrassment.

JR - How did you get the audition for Big Brother Canada?

SH -  Moving back to Toronto was my plan to audition for Big Brother. I was telling people that I was going to move to Toronto and audition for Big Brother Canada. So I had the day off and I went down for open casting call. And they tell you in all the audition videos “be yourself!” so I was like wondering how many people actually are themselves in these audition videos, so I was like, okay, I am going to be myself. I said, “I work at Vapor Central, I’m a pothead, and I smoke a lot of pot.” The guy who auditioned me was an open-minded guy and saw me as a unique character because I was an open pothead. I am sure other people on the show smoked pot, but didn’t talk about it in their audition.

JR -  What kind of opportunities has winning Big Brother Canada created for you?

SH - Just being on the show has opened so many doors that it was like winning on its own. So it’s also been an opportunity to be an amplified voice about pot. I got to be the voice I always wanted for weed culture, legalization, and voting. And that was good timing because Trudeau was running, I came out of my pot closet … the timing was perfect to be the voice for cannabis, and I was able to do that by being on the show. And also meeting people in this industry. Like you, and other media outlets. And now I have so many amazing friends.

JR - When you got cast in the show, what were some of the rules and stipulations of the show? Were you allowed to smoke weed off camera?

SH - 70 days, in house, no pot.

JR - How did you feel about that?

SH - I didn’t press it. So basically, you go into it kinda knowing that you won’t be able to smoke weed, but then as time goes you try to negotiate and find yourself asking the staff, “Hey, if I can smoke a joint to cope, that’d be great. lol” And I am susceptible to migraines, and surprisingly, for the 70 days I did not get one migraine. It really was a miracle.

JR - What kind of tactics did you use during Big Brother to help you win? Were you yourself?

SH - I love reality TV. I am obsessed. I studied reality TV. The three things for myself: I was as honest as possible. Like, when you can be honest, be honest. My theory was, like, people would always assume the worst of you anyways, but give them something so at least you aren’t lying and not feeding them BS. Also, form personal connections. And play the numbers. I went after the strongest players and was unapologetic. I did everything as honest as possible and got recognized for that too, which was nice. And I work very hard at being a nice person.

JR - So did you have a feeling you were going to be in the final four?

SH - No. I was very nervous about the competitions. And then I lost the competitions. They were never my thing, I always panicked. If I had some lead, I would have done better. That was probably a lot to do with that. I knew I was going to do terrible, and I did terrible. I had no idea I was going to be in the final four. Final four, I had the HOH [Head of Household], but then I had lost the HOH and didn’t think I would last, even when I got to the final two. I thought they would have voted for Godfrey. But I was shocked.

JR -  So, they announce your name: what is your first feeling?

SH - I just wanted to see Scott [partner/boyfriend], honestly. I could not believe it. And I am so grateful to Godfrey, just meeting him was another win on its own. I just could not believe it, I kept saying “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” Like I could not believe it. And you know what, the overwhelming love I had for Godfrey is the thing I think shines though.

JR - What are some of the opportunities resulting from your win with Big Brother Canada?

SH - With the Toronto Sun organization, called 24 Hours Toronto. And it’s Hanlon’s Joint, that’s what they called it. I write about pot-culture. I had a show on Vapor Central “The Sarah Hanlon Show,” and I might be bringing that one back and doing something there again. I have also branched out in interviews like this one, and it’s really been fun. I also spoke at Women Grow which is really fitting to me because I am a pot enthusiast, feminist, and love speaking about cannabis.

JR - Where do you see yourself in a year from now?

SH - I would like to expand, write more, freelance my writing, and maybe host on TV and stuff.

JR - If you have any words of wisdom, what would they be and why?

SH - It’s what Big Brother tells you when you audition and it sounds cliche, but basically, be yourself. I feel like that’s what the world needs. And everyone thinks I am opinionated, but everyone should be opinionated. Everyone should have an opinion. Opinions can have impact. So be yourself because it can change things. It certainly did for me.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been copyedited for grammar and readability, writing style and content have been maintained.

Photograph courtesy of Sarah Hanlon.