On Thursday, August 11 at the Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood, WWE and The Creative Coalition joined forces to unveil new anti-bullying initiatives for the “be a STAR” Alliance. Celebrities attending the annual SummerSlam kickoff party included Jennifer Love Hewitt (“Ghost Whisperer”), “Twilight”‘s sexy Kellan Lutz,Brittany Snow (“Prom Night”), Chelsie Hightower (“Dancing with the Stars”), a plethora of WWE wrestlers and divas, and many more.
I arrived at the Red Carpet event at the Andaz hotel right off the Sunset Strip a little early and found my place. I had never heard of this organization (The Creative Coalition) before and wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, wrestlers were involved to speak about bullying. I thought to myself, “WWE wrestlers, what do they know about being bullied? No one would mess with them,” but after a couple of interviews, I was proven wrong…
My first interview of the night was with one of the smaller wrestlers, Hornswoggle. I snapped a pic of him flashing some funny poses but when I asked him what “be a STAR” meant to him, it was no joke. “It is such a message near and dear to my heart because obviously with my stature I’ve been bullied all my life. It’s such a positive thing for children to hear.”
Everyone who walked the red carpet had dealt with bullying in some form or another. John Cena the well-known actor, rapper and professional wrestler shared how he still deals with bullying. “I have 8 million people following me on Facebook, 850,000 following me on Twitter… I’m the most loved and hated superstar in this business,” Cena said. “I should show you my timeline. The stuff that shows up on my timeline on a daily basis is the most hateful, hurtful stuff that I’ve ever been in contact with in my entire life.”
The “STAR” in the campaign slogan stands for “Show Tolerance And Respect.” The mission of “be a STAR” is “to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness.” The goal is simple, but the organization is anything but small with more than 30 organizations having joined the “STAR” alliance in the past two decades since its creation. This includes GLAAD, The Girl Scouts of America, of course WWE and the Creative Coalition, the premier nonprofit, social and political advocacy organization of the entertainment industry.
The organization was founded in 1989 by prominent figures in the creative community, including actors Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Blair Brown and Stephen Collins. Today, the movement has expanded beyond Hollywood. “We’re going all over the country,” a rep from The CC said. “This is a national program. We want to get in every school.” Robin Bronk President of The Creative Coalition added, “It’s about asking ‘how do you take the arts and develop messages that kids will understand to make them better citizens’.”
On a personal level, this event had significance to me as I’ve definitely dealt with bullying. In fact, I almost changed my name because of it. Being called “Liesl the diesel” and “Liesl Weapon” seemed like the worst insults in the world when I was 10 years old. I wish I had Kaycee Stroh from High School Musical tell me then what she told me on Thursday night. She said, “The thing to remember is that this too will pass. It seems so big when you’re in it but truthfully you’ll grow up, you’ll grow into yourself, your situation will change and those people who were bullying you, you know what, karma always gets them, and at the end of the day you’re a better person.” I had to give her a hug after I heard that one.
One of the best parts of the “be a STAR” organization is that the supporters hail from every race, gender and age. Little Ariel Winter, best know as “Alex Dunphy” on ABC’s “Modern Family” is also getting involved. Kids relate to kids. It’s one thing to hear from a WWE superstar, but it’s another to hear that one of the most famous kids on television had to drop out of public school because of her own torment. “I actually was bullied when I was in public school because I was an actor and they didn’t know how to deal with that,” Winter said. “So they just basically made fun of me for it. It was really painful to me and it really hurt. Kids need to feel like they are not alone.”
As a side, Winter did have a few spoilers for the upcoming season of “Modern Family”. Apparently, “Luke gets firecrackers, Manny steals something, Gloria gets hit on by a cowboy and Jim doesn’t like it…” I was very excited to hear that the first episode will take place on a dude ranch in my home town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There, Winter says, she’ll learn to ride a horse for the first time. There it is folks, straight from the source.
Overall, the night was a lot of fun, and a chance to hear more about this great organization, its inspiring initiatives, and hear from the many celebrities who are standing up and speaking out. No doubt this campaign will inspire kids all over the country to remember that they are not alone and they always have somewhere to turn. The “be a STAR” coalition is putting an end to intolerance in our schools one bully at a time.
To learn more, get involved, see photos, watch PSA’s, and take the take the “Don’t be a bully, be a STAR!” pledge visit, http://www.beastaralliance.org.
Quinton Aaron and Liesl Jackson
***Liesl Jackson is a writer/actress/comedian/pet sitter living in the heart of Hollywood. She loves the arts, animals, volunteering, traveling, and attempting to learn the acoustic guitar. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow The Pacific Punch on Twitter @ThePacificPunch.***
Liesl Jackson is a writer/actress/comedian/pet sitter living in the heart of Hollywood. She loves the arts, animals, volunteering, traveling, and attempting to learn the acoustic guitar. Email her at email@example.com. Follow her on twitter @SillyLiesl and follow The Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch.