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HIPPOLife Information Page

"Rehabilitation Through the Arts"

Please help us keep this going!

HIPPOLife is savings lives, but we cannot do this without your support.

In the past four years HIPPOLife Non-Profit Organization has:


  • Awarded 32 Performing Arts Scholarships to Minority youth performers in Massachusetts.


  • Granted 40 Performing Arts Scholarships to performers from historically marginalized communities in Los Angeles County. In partnership with Homeboy Industries, this HIPPOLife program has served dozens of raw and undiscovered talent and helped them forge a new path through the arts.


  • Launched our inaugural Performing Arts for Military Veterans Program which culminated with:

  • A short film and documentary, Unvisible, featuring veterans from the program that is currently in the festival circuit highlighting the truth behind the moniker; 22 A Day.

  • Awarded 20 continuing arts education scholarships to Military Veterans from the inaugural program.

  • Assisted in career and housing placement for veterans without homes.


  • Sponsored theater classes at public schools in economically disadvantaged communities which had forfeited their arts programs due to the recent loss of government funding.


  • Hosted workshops and performing arts centered programs for people with disabilities.



  • We also host annual blood drives, food drives, toy drives, and much more!



With our 2019 season coming to an end we are looking towards 2020 and how we can do more, reach more, and change more…


Your tax-deductible donation allows us to continue our mission of rehabilitation through the arts.

Any donation to our registered 501(c)(3) non-profit charity organization is tax-deductible.
Please help support us and help us spread the word. To contact us directly, please email us at
For more information, please visit

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Performing Arts for Military Veterans Program:

Un-Visible Trailer:


2018 and 2019 Performing Arts Scholarships:


Performing Arts for Inner City Children:


2018 and 2019 Performing Arts Scholarships:

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Performing Arts for Marginalized Communities:

Working closely with Homeboy Industries:

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2018 and 2019 Performing Arts Scholarships:


Performing Arts for People with Disabilities:

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Every November HIPPOLife works with the VA to feed approximately 4000 homeless US Veterans:


Every December HIPPOLife's Toy Drive receives approximately 500 new toys for displaced families in Los Angeles:


Annual Food Drive with Project Angel Food:

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Annual Blood Drive with American Red Cross:

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HIPPOLife Story

I remember sitting in a small apartment in Boston, thinking to myself that there has to be more to life. I felt alone, invisible, hopeless.


My addiction was taking over. Painkillers numbed my body, my heart, and my soul. That was the reality of my twenties. Fear kept me stuck in one place.


It was either move forward, or die.


I sold everything I had that was worth anything, put what was left in my truck, and drove away. At the time, I thought I was going to California to pursue my dream of being an actor. My real destiny was yet to come.


Over ten years went by and there I was, a substitute teacher at an acting studio. I had been there for a few years when I had the exciting opportunity to teach my own class. I wanted to make my class special and unique so I started doing research, looking for things that I felt could inspire my students.


One day, while I was in a toy store looking for a gift for my newborn nephew, I came across a pop-up book that was about hippopotamuses. It said something, something that struck a nerve. Something I will never forget.


Hippos only move forward; they don’t move side to side or backward. If anything gets in the way of a hippo, it gets stomped.


To me, that was a message that actors in this business could definitely identify with.


On February 5, 2011, I decided to bring that message to my new class. I was right, not only could my actors identify with that amazing fact, but the “Keep Moving Forward” attitude of the Hippo became our mantra.


The message was simple: Set a goal, see it, and move forward.  Don’t move side to side. Don’t move backward.


I taught my students that once they set that goal, they can’t be distracted by their surroundings or let their past dictate their future. If I had done that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Inspiring those around me to never give up on what life has planned for you.

Our mantra caught on, and we soon started referring to ourselves as “Hippos.”

It became the new term for anyone that sets a goal, faces overwhelming odds and does not let anything stop them from moving forward.


Inspired by how quickly this movement caught on, I created an acronym to further expand and define the message.







That was the day that HIPPOLife was born.


The Hippos learned that art has no race, no gender, no age and does not discriminate based on where you come from or what you have gone through.

There was no luck, no magic, no coincidences, and no judgment. It was just human beings being able to tell stories in an artistic way. But it was more than art, It was healing, it was rehabilitating, and it was life-saving. 



Thinking back to the days when I was battling addiction, trying to overcome depression and anxiety, the only thing that saved me was storytelling. It was my only outlet.

I am here because art saved me.


Soon, my students came to me with stories of how HIPPOLife saved their lives too. It helped them fight suicidal thoughts, depression, anger, past abuse, and most importantly, it gave them a family. It gave them a home.


The primal need to feel human, not to be invisible, and to have a voice is something everyone can relate to.


In January 2013, I opened Anthony Gilardi Acting Studio with a simple goal: providing a safe home for actors and to teach the art of humanity.


When I was not in class teaching I was out doing volunteer work with inner-city kids & teens, military veterans, former gang members, and people with disabilities.  


Besides the desire to learn acting, I realized they all had something else in common. They too felt alone, left out, not taken seriously and were dismissed by society.


These amazing people were not looking for sympathy. They just wanted to be seen. They wanted to be heard. It was then when I realized, not only does art have no race, no gender, and no age, it also has no limitation.


The human beings I was meeting were underserved, yes, but they were also “Hippos.”

HIPPOLife was expanding. It was evolving.


Finally, in February 2016, exactly five years from the original date of its conception, the Hippos got our 501(c)(3) status and the HIPPOLife Non-Profit Organization was born!


Our mission: Rehabilitation and Social Awareness Through the Arts.

Giving the voiceless a voice, serving the underserved, and providing an opportunity to keep moving forward.

Deep down inside, we are all Hippos!

Anthony Gilardi


HIPPOLife Non-Profit Organization

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