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SANTA ANA, Calif. — In an effort to clear up misconceptions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, former Disney ambassador Jolie Hales started her YouTube channel “What Mormons Believe.”
As a Disney ambassadors Hales was an official spokesperson and often participated in interviews as a media representative.
In her videos, Hales explains topics like polygamy, baptisms for the dead, temple garments and life after death.
“I don’t run from the difficult questions and topics,” Hales said. “I try to understand them as best I can so that I can answer them in the most accurate way and not get emotional about the answers.”
Since moving to California, Hales has learned many of her friends didn’t know what Latter-day Saints believed. She felt like she was in her own “little bubble,” she said.
“I live in an area where the majority of people aren’t Mormon, so I have to function in a not Utah world, and the more people misunderstand about what I believe, the more difficult it is in social situations,” Hales said.
Hales, who holds a master's degree in filmmaking, didn’t begin her video series until her contract with Disney was over, but she used the camera experience she gleaned while working as an ambassador to get her started.
“I didn’t know if I would make much of a dent at all but I thought I would try,” Hales said.
I believe in this stuff, but I don't do it just to convert people, I want people to understand that we're normal people.
Hales began researching the topics she planned to explain by reading Gary Lawrence’s book “Mormon Believe … What?!” She then emailed Lawrence and got permission to discuss some of the topics he covered in her video.
It wasn’t until her brother posted a viral YouTube video about being gay and being an active Latter-day Saint that her videos got more views.
“There’s not a lot of gay Mormons who were faithful to the church at that time in the public eye,” Hales said. “In his video, he linked to my channel and that helped people look at it.”
“What Mormons Believe” consistently gets 600 to 800 views a day and has about 800,000 views total. It is not an official channel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I’ve had a lot of people say it helped lead them into the waters of baptism, and that’s awesome for me,” Hales said. “I believe in this stuff, but I don’t do it just to convert people, I want people to understand that we’re normal people.”