Actor and Bullies Keep Out Advocate Michael Raymond-James
Michael Raymond-James is not only an actor who has played memorable roles in popular shows such as True Blood and Once Upon a Time, but he is about so much more when it comes to causes and charity. In the few short moments of speaking with Michael on bullying and hate, it was evident how close to his heart this cause was along with advocating in general. It is amazing how we can read this in people we come into connect with. I see passion every day for many causes, and it still warms my heart to find such like-minded individuals to work with. It was clear to me in the conversation it was a mission to make a difference and bring light to serious issues.
I have read articles in the past on how Michael researches his roles a great deal to get a sense of direction before embarking on a journey with each character he plays, but this goes beyond acting as well when it comes to causes he strongly believes in. This interview will confirm that for anybody who reads it.
Michael will also be doing an amazing PSA for Bullies Keep Out. You definitely want to stay tuned to his advocating work with BKO, as I am looking forward to it myself.
Q&A with Michael Raymond-James
Dana Jacoviello: You have stated that bullying and all forms of hate are very close to you and that you are a big supporter of this cause. Have you ever had personal experience with the issue or anybody you know?
Michael Raymond-James: I think everyone, to varying degrees has some kind of experience with bullying in some form. Be it from a witness stand point, a target, or even perhaps as an instigator in some way, we’ve all said things that we later wished we hadn’t. It doesn’t always rise to the level of bullying, but the regret can still be felt. I would prefer to not get into specifics, but I was never bullied in any severe way, however that doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt for people experiencing pain. That I don’t ache for someone being targeted. There just isn’t any justification for bullying, and injustice has always bothered me. I often cry for people who I think (rightly or wrongly) feel that no one will cry for them.
DJ: It seems that in today’s society bullying has taken a new form online in the form of cyber bullying, which is a big issue with not only youth, but adults and public figures as well on social media. I have seen good people leave Twitter due to this issue. How do you feel when hearing or seeing this occur and do you feel it is being handled properly by social media sites?
MRJ: Of course, being somewhat of a public person, I have seen online bullying through social media. My friend Meghan Ory shut down her Twitter page due to too many unkind, mean-spirited (at best) comments. I think it’s awful. Many of my friends in the entertainment industry, myself included, have insanely inappropriate comments directed at us routinely. People sometimes mistake the characters we play or the choices that our characters make as being made by ourselves in real life, or that whatever they see on-screen is actually real life and not some imaginary set of circumstances within the context of telling a story for entertainment. I suppose that’s a little bit a “part of the territory” when you’re an actor, but judgments upon your person by people who have never met you or never had any interaction with whatsoever is a little bit absurd. Because it’s “only” social media, and people can operate on there anonymously and to a large extent with impunity. People say things to people (celebrity or not) that would most likely would NEVER say to someone in person. I’m not sure how it can be fixed, or if it ever will, but I think a good rule of thumb is to simply treat people with respect. Maybe if we only say on social media what we would say to that person if we were on an elevator with them is good. I don’t know.
DJ: You have been on many popular shows with a loyal following. One thing I have noticed a great deal of in fandoms or with shows, for awhile now, is that people are on personal crusades, attacking strangers, attacking actors, writers, and people involved with these shows. Have you seen this or encountered it at all and why do you think people are angry at storylines or characters rather than just enjoying the shows, the character, the performances, and having fun?
MRJ: Most of my answer to the second question could probably apply here. As to the why? I simply don’t know. I think some people have taken the back and forth conduit of Twitter as a place for them to perhaps be involved in the direction of a story. It’s the new version of the time-honored pastime of “yelling at the screen.” It’s now just done publicly and directly to the source of their frustrations in some cases nowadays. However, it’s also important to note that by far the vast, VAST majority of fan interaction on social media in my experience has been overwhelmingly positive and fun, and a cool way to interact with people who I maybe wouldn’t have had the chance to otherwise. In fact this interview will go out over social media and never would have happened without social media. So I think in most cases it can be and is used as a tool for good.
DJ: Many believe that bullying starts within the home and that bullies are victims as well and should receive help along with a punishment. You have others who just feel they should get what they deserve. Then you have those that are bullies as adults and blame their childhood. What are your thoughts on these statements?
MRJ: I think there is no one answer to this. Everyone is different. And every bullies journey is a different combination on the nature/nurture spectrum. But I do know that no one, unless they are dealing with a severe and particular sociopathic mental health issue, sets out in life at the beginning to hurt other people and cause pain. There is some kind of pain they are most likely also trying to deal with but don’t know how.
DJ: Do you feel that society has contributed at all for how we are perceived with certain pressures to be or look a certain way in the media?
MRJ: I absolutely think so. I wish that weren’t the case, but I do think particularly for women and girls the societal pressures on appearance can be overwhelming. For boys as well, to be sure, but there are other societal measures boys are meant to live up to that are just as damaging.
DJ: What words of advice would you give to anybody suffering from bullying and hate in any form?
MRJ: To just know you aren’t alone. Help is available. There are people who care about you, even if you think there isn’t, or they aren’t the people whose care you’re coveting. People do care. I do. Please, please find someone you can talk to.
DJ: Where can people find you on social media and what are some of your upcoming projects we can look for?
MRJ: The only socially media thing I do is Twitter. You can find me at @MRaymondJames. I’ve recently wrapped a three-part mini-series for the History Channel called Sons Of Liberty about the build up to the American Revolution, where I play Paul Revere. I’m also currently shooting a film for Disney called The Finest Hours based on a book by the same name about the true story of a Coast Guard rescue off the coast of Cape Cod in 1952.
DJ: Do you any other causes that are important to you that you would like to mention or tell me a little bit about so we can help in any way we can?
MRJ: I’m a huge fan and supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and St Jude Children’s Hospital
DJ: I so appreciate your interview and chatting with you on this serious matter. I want to thank you so much for your time. Do you have anything you would like to add?
MRJ: A quote that I like that I think comes from the director Garry Marshall, which is “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” #SpreadLove
Interview by Writer/Interviewer and Founder, Manager, Cyber Bully Investigator, Mentor/Coach, and Host of La Bella Vita Podcast of Bullies Keep Out Dana Jacoviello