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The Olympic runner, actress, filmmaker and writer Alexi Pappas shares what she’s learned about confidence, self-reliance, mental health, embracing pain, and achieving your dreams.
“Heartbreaking and hilarious.”—Mindy Kaling • “A beautiful read.”—Ruth Reichl • “Essential guidance to anyone dreaming big dreams.”—Shalane Flanagan • “I couldn’t put it down.”—Adam Grant
run like a bravey
sleep like a baby
dream like a crazy
replace can’t with maybe
When “Renaissance runner” (New York Times) Alexi Pappas—Olympic athlete, actress, filmmaker, and writer—was four years old, her mother died by suicide, drastically altering the course of Pappas’s life and setting her on a search for female role models. When her father signed his bereaved daughter up for sports teams as a way to keep her busy, female athletes became the first women Pappas looked up to, and her Olympic dream was born. At the same time, Pappas had big creative dreams, too: She wanted to make movies, write, and act. Despite setbacks and hardships, Pappas refused to pick just one lane. She put in a tremendous amount of hard work and wouldn’t let anything stand in her way until she achieved all of her dreams, however unrelated they may seem to outsiders. In a single year, 2016, she made her Olympic debut as a distance runner and wrote, directed, and starred in her first feature film.
But great highs are often accompanied by deep lows; with joy comes sorrow. In Bravey, Pappas fearlessly and honestly shares her battle with post-Olympic depression and describes how she emerged on the other side as a thriving and self-actualized woman. Unflinching, exuberant, and always entertaining, Bravey showcases Pappas’s signature, charming voice as she reflects upon the touchstone moments in her life and the lessons that have powered her career as both an athlete and an artist—foremost among them, how to be brave.
Pappas’s experiences reveal how we can all overcome hardship, befriend pain, celebrate victory, relish the loyalty found in teammates, and claim joy. In short: how every one of us can become a bravey.
In this strong debut, Olympian Pappas shares her inspiring life story of overcoming tragedy as a child to enjoy a flourishing, multifaceted career as an athlete, filmmaker, and actor. Pappas, whose bipolar mother died by suicide when Pappas was five, grew up in Northern California with a loving father, older brother, and a stream of nannies. In middle school, she began measuring her accomplishments by how much discomfort she could endure while running races ("Every race hurts, no matter what. If anybody tells you otherwise they're either lying or they simply don't try hard enough"). This athletic ambition led to a scholarship at Dartmouth College and eventual acceptance into the 2016 Olympics as a long-distance runner. Her experience as an athlete, in turn, inspired her to collaborate on her first film, 2012's Tall as the Baobob Tree\n, followed by two more films, Tracktown in 2016 and Olympic Dreams in 2019. Along the way Pappas developed fresh ways of thinking about and viewing the world, and coined the neologism bravey as "a self-identifier for those who are willing to chase their dreams" while always being kind to themselves and never letting other people's opinions define them. Pappas's extraordinary tale is skillfully told and profoundly inspiring.