To The Unsealed subscribers aka my unsealed family,
A few years ago, I was standing in front of Madison Square Garden. That’s the arena where I fell in love with sports. That’s where at age 10, I decided to become a sportscaster. That’s where I watched countless New York Rangers games with my dad.
As I stood outside The Garden, the ten-year-old girl inside me felt a sense of shock, excitement and pride. I was about to audition for a job at MSG Network as a host for one of their teams. I didn’t even apply. After going through 500 applicants, the network somehow found me, reached out to my agent and said it was down to one other person and me.
Memorizing stats and learning the backstories of players, I prepared more for this audition than I did for my SATs. Honestly, I thought I nailed it.
However, when I got back to Cleveland and waited to find out if they chose me, I had this inexplicable knot in my stomach. I realized if I got the job, there wouldn’t be a place in my life for social advocacy or in-depth and inspiring storytelling.
The child in me was on the cusp of living her fairy tale, but my adult self felt conflicted, making me realize I was chasing an old dream despite new passions.
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I wanted to tell stories, shed light on inequality, empower voices and be a leader. When I found out I didn’t get the job at MSG Network, I took it as a sign to search for an opportunity that more closely reflected who I now am and where my heart currently lies.
For months, I wrote countless emails and traveled all over the country for meetings only to learn that my dream job didn’t exist. If I really wanted it, I had to create it.
That’s what led me to The Unsealed.
On this Friday last year, I launched theunsealed.com, a media company that tells inspirational or socially significant stories in the form of open letters to create change, encourage unity and amplify a diverse group of voices. I ghostwrite all of the letters. Since our very first one, I knew THIS journey, THIS job, was meant for me.
My friend, Antoine Mason, the son of New York Knicks great, Anthony Mason, agreed to do our very first letter, which he addressed to his late father. After I interviewed him and used his words to assemble the letter, I sent it to him to take a look.
He responded, “Thank you, Lauren.”
I said, “Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you.”
He said, “Thank you for helping me express myself.”
When I posted Antoine’s letter on my Facebook fan page, a man who watched me on TV in Ohio received an alert, letting him know I posted a new story. It was the anniversary of his mother’s funeral and at that moment his grief was overwhelming. With a gun nearby and a plan to make an irreversible decision, he chose to take a minute to read Antoine’s letter. As the tears dripped down his face, he felt inspired and hopeful, as he connected to Antoine’s love for his late father. He decided to put the gun away and a few months later got rid of it permanently.
He told me Antoine’s story saved his life.
In addition to the letters online, before COVID-19, I spoke at high schools, sharing my journey and how my sexual assault in high school shaped the concept for The Unsealed.
At one school, a young woman approached me, telling me that she also experienced a sexual assault.
A few days later, I received an email from her (which she gave me permission to share), that stated in part, “I had mentioned that you were the sixth person I ever told my story to… Interestingly enough, I did not tell you my story because you were affected by a similar — and yet very, very different — experience. I told you because the way you instantly conveyed yourself as a strong, female role model (but also a total stranger) created what I recognized as a safe space. You have no idea how much it means to me to see women like you…I know nearly nothing about you, but I’m a big believer in sharing compliments when they are due. Thus, whoever it is that you are, you made me want to tell a seventh and an eighth and a ninth person about my story… I’m not entirely sure where this sudden willingness to share my story came from, but I attribute it to you because you are the first woman I met face-to-face who used her experiences to drive her passion.”
After I read her email, I knew I didn’t just want The Unsealed to work. I had to make it work. But the site had yet to make any money, as I dipped into my savings each month to keep it afloat.
A sports executive at a major sports cable network told me he believed in The Unsealed. After spending hours in his office, providing me with his advice and wisdom, he suggested I start a paid subscription. So, I gave it a shot. Not only did he sign up, but so did all of you.
Some of you have bought two subscriptions while others have used their connections to promote The Unsealed through syndicated radio shows, personal podcasts and sports websites. On social media, many of you share The Unsealed letters daily and encourage your friends and family to join. Many of you have offered your resources to help The Unsealed grow. A few of you are famous athletes or coaches and appear on the most popular media networks and outlets, and yet you willingly have made appearances on our weekly live show and shared your stories via our letters. One of you, who once served as my boss, even reads every single letter I write before posting it, providing me with professional feedback. Among you all are my mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law, who brainstorm with me daily and provide endless encouragement and support.
You all are a mix of different people that I have come across throughout my life: viewers in Cleveland and Buffalo, friends, family, former co-workers, people who attended the same schools as me, athletes and coaches who I have covered and new friends who simply stumbled upon The Unsealed online. However you came to be a part of The Unsealed, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. This journey couldn’t exist or evolve without you.
Since the site launched, we’ve reached hundreds of thousands of people in more than 180 countries around the world and raised/donated thousands of dollars to a variety of charities. We bought pizza for homeless teenagers and we purchased gift cards for children at the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland. People, E!, ESPN, The New York Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and TMZ are just some of the outlets that have picked up and referenced our letters.
I knew when I started The Unsealed that the work meant a lot to me, but I had no idea that it would mean so much to all of you.
Now and always, I am grateful for your support and The Unsealed family we have created.
While I may no longer be fulfilling my childhood dream, I will forever appreciate all of you for believing in me and allowing me to live my life’s purpose.
Together, we will change the world. This is just the beginning.
Happy 1st Birthday to us.
I truly love all of you,