When his college-age daughter decided she wanted to take her passion for the hula hoop and turn it into a career, Paul Good thought she was simply going through a phase.
Grace Good, a 2011 graduate of Centennial High School who is now in her late 20s, picked up the old-fashioned children’s toy when she was enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University. Hula-hooping began as a hobby and then as therapy for anxiety and panic attacks Good was having at the time. Before long, she was developing a repertoire and thought this was something she could do as a professional performer.
Dad wasn’t convinced at first.
“I thought it was a little fad, something to do on the side while she went to school,” says Good, a former pastor who now runs Rooster Call Ministries. “And then she kept going. I was really impressed with her fortitude to master what she started out to do. She pushes the limits on a lot of things.”
As she continued to hone her hula-hoop skills and began adding elements such as fire and aerial acrobatics, Good was also developing her business sense and learning how to build her brand. She launched her “circus career” as a street performer in downtown Nashville, and later expanded to traveling with Cirque Dreams, making regular appearances in Las Vegas, and performing at local venues such Plaza Mariachi in Nashville.
Then in March 2020, it all came to a sudden halt. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic meant no travel for Good, no public appearances, no in-person hula hoops afire. Good stayed at her parents’ Franklin home as the lockdown persisted. But through what her dad calls a “fiery approach,” Good turned to social media to keep the act going.
“When the pandemic hit,” Good recalls, “my main thing was I wanted to perform, and I didn’t want to stop doing what I usually do.”
So her parents’ backyard became something between a studio and a circus stage. Good took her act to Facebook and Instagram with a weekly 20-minute show in front of a bedsheet hung from a garage, and even though interaction was virtual, she was inspired by the countless comments from viewers.
“It got popular,” she says. “People started watching it every week. It got on national news. The videos went viral.
“I wasn’t getting hired, but I was still fiery and passionate about what I wanted to do. The thing that kept me going was all the comments I would get, people saying they look forward to this every week, ‘you put a smile on my face,’ ‘seeing you going keeps me going’ — and that has kept me going.”
With the general return of in-person performances, Good is again traveling. She has appeared on a couple of national TV shows, and is so busy with her act in Las Vegas she has an apartment there. Good still stays busy with her virtual shows, especially in settings such as corporate conventions.
And along the way, Good has had a chance to inspire others to follow their dreams, whether they involve a fiery hula hoop or not.
“I want to be an inspiration for people who want to do something with what they love in their lives,” says Good, who taught classes at the Nashville Circus Center in Cool Springs for about five years. “I mean, how crazy it is that I’ve made a career with what I’m doing? So anybody who may have a crazy dream, I’m living proof that you can make it a reality.”
Paul Good can attest to that. It didn’t take him long to realize his daughter’s passion went beyond just being a fad.
“We’ve encouraged her and supported her all along,” he says. “We like for her to bring joy to people. We always like to say, keep it good and full of light and joy and faith and hope, and let that come across.
“And you can see that in her spirit. Being a pastor, I always guided the kids, ‘God first.’ And I think that’s how she expresses that.”