BKO Advocate Actor Elliot Knight Speaks Out

Interview by Dana Jacoviello

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Photo courtesy of Elliot Knight

Elliot Knight is a man of many talents. This British gentleman is known for many things, but most recently his roles were as Merlin on the hit ABC show Once Upon A Time, and now he has a new hit show on CBS called American Gothic.

Elliot grew up in the second largest city of the UK, Birmingham. While growing up he excelled in drama and won awards for his talents. He has performed on stage in such roles as “Macbeth and other classic plays while attending University. Though Elliot auditioned for lead roles in several television pilots, he made his United States debut in another hit ABC show “How To Get Away With Murder, which propelled him into being seen as one of the most exciting and fresh new talents in the industry.

If that is not enough, Elliot is passionate about causes, and we had the pleasure to discuss with him about a very serious subject and problem in today’s society. We are very happy to have Elliot’s support with us here at Bullies Keep Out.

Dana Jacoviello: One of the first questions I ask is for people to share their story, have you ever suffered from bullying or hate yourself, or someone close to you, whether it be offline or online?

Elliot Knight: I remember the first time I was picked on. I was 7 or 8 years old and just started at a new school. One kid in the class decided to make me a target from my very first day. I hadn’t spoken to him or done anything to provoke him, I was just a shy kid in a new environment. It went on until one day, for the first time, I “hit back”, and after that he didn’t come near me again. From that point I wasn’t intimidated by people who tried to put me down as a way of elevating themselves. I saw it for what it was and took it that, actually, bullies feel intimidated by the people they target, and so victims of bullying should realize that it’s the strengths they have that make them stand out, not their weaknesses.

DJ: Some people feel this is a fight that will never be over. In fact, some feel it is something that will only get worse with the advances in technology. Many feel our society needs to wake up and look up. We are far too busy looking at our phones, iPad, and iPod to bother to see what is around us, but on the other side of the coin, people use it for business, marketing, social good, charity, and making new friends. How do you feel about the obsession society has with technology and social media? Do you feel there should be a line regardless?

EK: Expression is a wonderful thing and it’s something I celebrate in what I do. The bottom line is that there is no substance to social media without engagement with the real world. It’s important that we continue to make connections in real life and then social media has its part to play in spreading those experiences and messages to others. Technological advances can be great, but only when they amplify, not detract, from what makes us human

DJ: Our society seems fueled by a great deal of hate, while calling it a debate; however, in regards to gun violence, which we advocate for, These issues all go back to some form of bullying and hate. There seems to be a great deal of confusion on the need for gun control and people thinking this means ban all guns. What is your stance on the subject?

EK: In my eyes, war is never justified or the cause of any good – it’s never a good solution. It’s an unfortunate bi-product of human short comings; when we’re not willing to be a little more open or a little less selfish. Love does not spawn hate, and I think there is definitely room for more love in the world.

DJ: One thing that also can be a bit controversial when it comes to bullying is defending yourself or protecting someone else. We are supposed to speak out, stand up, and never be a bystander, which is our mantra; however, we also advise to ignore and block. Engaging is what gives them power and fuel to keep coming at you. I also feel you need to not go down to their level and defend with respect and kindness and move on if it continues. Others say they feel if they say nothing they are letting them win, but one has to be careful they do not become a bully themselves. That being said, BKO does not condone any hatred or violence in any form. What are your thoughts on this subject?

EK: I believe that as long as any action or inaction you take comes from a good place within, then your intentions are good and that’s what matters most. There is no one universal code of conduct that is right for every situation; all people are different and will think and behave in different ways. What is important is to maintain respect for yourself and those around you, even when your views may differ.

DJ: There has been much controversy over parents teaching their kids lessons and recording it to be public. They are putting them down, yelling at them, and cursing at them, even touching them physically. Many agree that they are stepping over boundaries, and that is not how you teach and educate your child on doing wrong. Others say that is what these kids need to keep them in line. What do you think of the videos that we see online of parents berating their children for bullying or doing something bad thinking they will learn from their behavior if they are humiliated in the process or taught a lesson? Do you feel some are going overboard or trying to become internet stars, as some say? Some even say there are videos out there that are fake or staged.

EK: No level of abuse should ever be justified by media exposure. Parenting is both an amazing and challenging process for any family, on both sides. I would like to think when I’m a dad that, no matter what the situation, my child’s best interests will be my only priority when it comes to parenting them. I was fortunate enough to have two great parents both with very different styles of parenting, and while no one parenting style is perfect, both were great in their own ways.

DJ: I have spoken to and heard of many stories from people having to leave their jobs, getting fired, or just being miserable due to extreme bullying within their business whether it is by another employee or their boss. In fact, we have a regular guest author who wrote a book on the topic, as it happened to her. So, just as schools should have bullying programs or assemblies and educating on this epidemic, do you feel the same should apply to the workplace?

EK: It’s a shame that bullying is even something we should have to consider entering the workplace and adult-life. At the end of the day, there is no need for it. If something isn’t to your liking, then don’t like it. But don’t act in a way intended to put others down because you’re not comfortable. It says more about you than the person you’re targeting and achieves absolutely no good. I would imagine being bullied in the workplace as an adult would be even more difficult to admit to because it is so bizarre that it would even happen; but be strong and stand up for yourself. The only shame that should be felt is by the bully, and others will see it the same way.

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DJ: There has been many of social media fights between celebrities. How much responsibility do you feel falls on celebrities to set an example and who many fans seems to fully rely on to counteract, but then you have those that actually engage in it themselves with each other publicly?

EK: Life isn’t without friction and there will always be times when passionate feelings are in conflict. There is nothing wrong with debate, it’s an important part of reaching resolution and understanding. But it’s the way in which people conduct themselves that can become an issue. Be passionate, passion is wonderful, but remember to also be respectful. As long as your aim is to positively empower and encourage, then great. But that doesn’t have to be achieved by demeaning others; that is nothing more than a sign that you’re already losing.

DJ: Everybody always has different perspectives or words or wisdom on what to do when someone is severely going through adversity in relation to bullying or hate. It is very rampant, especially online. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is struggling?

EK: Everybody has strength within them. Period. What can be difficult is that not everything recognizes the strength within themselves. If anything about you makes you different, makes you stand out, draws attention to you, it is not a weakness, it is a strength. Your strength. Own it. Believe in and celebrate yourself every day, and soon enough, others will do the same.

Bullies Keep Out would like to thank Elliot for becoming an advocate and adding his voice to our organization.

You can follow Elliot Knight on Twitter to keep up with his latest work: @itselliotknight and like his Facebook page here: FB

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