Lexi Hensler: Championing Mental Health & Living Life to the Fullest
Updated: May 20
Miami Living Magazine recently had the pleasure of interviewing American actress, model and social media sensation Lexi Hensler. Renowned for her magnetic charm and comedic prowess, Lexi graciously shared her experiences and reflections on her remarkable journey to social media prominence, how she has passionately utilized her platform to champion mental health causes, and the lessons she has learned along the way.
ML: You're a content creating machine! How did you get started and what do you love most about sharing your creations online?
LH: Thank you, I sure try to be! I’ve actually been creating content longer than most people realize. I started making home movies and YouTube videos when I was 8 years old with my mom’s digital camera, which, at the time, was crazy technology. I have always loved creating, but I never imagined it would become my full-time job. Growing up I was told the only way to be successful was to go to college and graduate school so I tried to do just that. Although I was focused on college most days of the week, I would use any free time to film videos or take photos with friends. I would post everything online purely for lighthearted fun so I couldn’t believe when I actually started to grow a platform from it. I almost gave up my dreams, but thankfully the universe had other plans. I took one semester off of college to pursue content creation full time and I still haven’t been back since that day 4 years ago. I love everything about my job. I love the process of creating content and getting to work with other creative minds. I love that I can connect with people all across the world and hopefully make them laugh or inspire them. I still feel shocked that this is actually my job and I hope I can continue it for years to come.
ML: You've been really honest about your mental health journey and even started your own brand, HUGZ, to help others dealing with anxiety and depression. What inspired you to create this brand and how do you hope it will make a difference for people?
LH: I had a medical emergency at 17, that led to me having severe panic attacks for the first time. One of the things that made a huge difference in helping my anxiety was weighted blankets. I loved how it was a tool I could use that had no side effects or risks. I dove into researching why weighted blankets work and learned how the weight actually relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system by lowering blood pressure and heart rates. I wanted to create a more portable version, which has led to my mental health brand ‘HUGZ’. ‘HUGZ’ is devoted to promoting mental health and wellness through our products of weighted stuffed animals that simulates the feeling of being hugged. I hope it will not only be a helpful tool, but also a conversation starter. Also, in an effort to further our impact, a portion of ‘HUGZ’ proceeds goes to mental health charities.
ML: You've teamed up with "Your Mom Cares" to donate part of your HUGZ profits to children's mental health programs. That's amazing! Why is this cause so important to you and how do you think your brand can make a positive impact on kids' mental health?
LH: Children don’t get enough credit for how difficult things can be for them. They deal with numerous challenges while they’re still developing their minds; one of the biggest challenges being how severe bullying has become. I went through bullying in school every day and then it would follow me home through the internet, which is something our parents’ generation didn’t have to deal with. There are constantly new factors making it more and more difficult on the mental health of children, but I do have hope because I believe our society is working harder than ever to combat it. My mom works in a children’s hospital and she has seen the shocking rise in children coming in with mental illnesses.
She introduced me to the organization ‘Your Mom Cares’ because she saw the major value they have in making an active impact in the healthcare of children. I’ve gotten to watch from the sidelines as Rady Children’s hospital works tirelessly to innovate new programs for children’s mental health. I have a lot of faith that we’re heading towards a turning point where we will finally understand how to prevent mental health complications before they can get a foothold on children.
ML: You've talked about how a life-threatening experience changed your outlook on life. Can you tell us more about that experience and how it shifted your perspective?
LH: I’ve noticed we all seem to think we’re promised time. We save for retirement and postpone plans to focus on saving money. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do that, but we should also not wait until our 60’s to start living. I sure didn’t expect to almost lose my life as young as 17, but when I was lying in a hospital bed before even finishing puberty it fully changed my perspective. I started my bucket list to organize everything and actively making plans to complete it. I would make a savings plan for a trip and schedule it as soon as I could afford it. No excuses anymore, just actions. If I ever end up back in a life-threatening situation, I hope I would feel that I’ve experienced enough to make peace with it.
ML: Since making a bucket list of 50 things you want to do in the course of your lifetime, you've done some pretty incredible things! From sleeping in an underwater hotel to skydiving out of a hot air balloon, what have been some of your favorite bucket list experiences so far and why?
LH: I cannot believe how many things I’ve crossed off the list already! I feel so incredibly grateful to have had any of these experiences, let alone this many. You definitely nailed some of my favorite memories! Skydiving out of the hot air balloon was far more terrifying than skydiving out of a plane. I jumped tandem (attached) to my instructor and while we were connected, we had to climb over the side of the basket and stand on this tiny wood platform and wait until we got high enough to jump. My feet dangled off, there was only room for his feet on the platform and it was a wild moment of my brain yelling at me that this was the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done. I’ve actually never felt that much fear from any experiences I’ve had. With that being said, the feeling that followed facing that fear and taking the leap was absolutely priceless. I think it’s good to face your fears head on. Also, flying a helicopter was pretty f-ing cool.
ML: Have you spent any time in Miami? If so, what do you like to do while you're here? Do you have any exciting projects in the works involving Miami?
LH: I have been to Miami, but it wasn’t the typical experience you’d expect! I was visiting my good friend who has an exotic animal rescue right outside of the city. He put me to work for the weekend cleaning the enclosures and feeding the animals. Before you ask, of course I filmed it and it’s up on my YouTube channel. I definitely plan to come back to Miami soon and experience the other side with the beautiful beaches and world-famous food!
ML: Looking ahead to the future, what are your plans? Where do you see yourself in five years?
LH: Time is flying! I can’t believe I’m already 25 and how much my life has changed in the last few years. I plan to still be traveling as much as possible and creating content along the way. The more I check things off of my bucket list, the more I seem to add to it as well! I hope to continue to grow Hugz and make an impact in the fight against the mental health epidemic. I actually want to move out of California for the first time, I think it would be good to experience something different. Also, this year I’ve been working hard at music so you can expect to hear some later this year! Wherever I am, I just hope I’m happy.
Photographer: Ben Cope
Stylist: Sophia Rahimi
Hair: J Michael
Makeup: Janice Daoud
Hugz official site: givehugz.co