Posts tagged "Victoria Pannell"

Tools for Change!

Easter Day at Wards Island Men’s Shelter

Youth  activist Victoria Pannell has made an influential impact on her community by  launching her non-profit organization, Tools For Change! She created this platform to give young people basic life tools toward a better future. See how her organization served Easter dinner at  Wards Island Men’s Shelter + registered them to vote!

Please tell our readers a little about Ward’s Island Men’s Shelter.
Wards Island is made up of a collection of mostly male homeless shelters. We believe there are 4 shelters on the Island. My mother had the idea to go to Wards Island after attending a town hall meeting for candidates running for city council. One person asked the candidates what they were going to do about all the homeless men coming to 125th st and Lexington ave. Not one candidate had an answer and most didn’t even know anything about Wards Island. My mother and I along with a friend starting visiting the Island. We talked to so many men who were just down on their luck. The men are grouped together. You have men who are just homeless residing with the mentally ill, recent parolees from Rikers Island and drug addicts. There is no separation so each group cannot get the needs and services addressed for their particular problems.

 

Why was it important for your non profit Tools for Change to serve Easter Dinner and register these men to vote?
We served the dinner as a way to communicate and let the men know they are not alone. We wanted them to know we will be on the main Island fighting for them long after Easter. Although we will be fighting for them they must reclaim some of their own power and one way to do that is vote the politicians out of office that don’t care about them. A lot of the men believe because they are homeless they can’t vote or because of their criminal record they can’t vote. That is why I had informational pamphlets available to let the residents know being homeless doesn’t disqualify someone from being eligible to vote. Also having a criminal record doesn’t automatically disqualify someone. Feeding them and giving away gift bags was to get their attention. Once we had their attention we wanted them to take back their power, hence registering to vote.


The men cannot take any food inside the shelter including water. The food at the shelters has been described as slop by all of them. There’s absolutely nothing to do during the day, not even television, so the men take the free M35 bus to 125th st and Lexington to eat and stand around.

Find out more here!

Tools for Change

Teen Talk! Maria Miller x Victoria Pannell

Interview + article by Maria Miller

If you’re passionate about something go for it! Don’t let age or what people may think stop you. That’s something I learned from the brilliant Victoria Pannell who has done so much for not only her community, but for people everywhere whether its directly or indirectly. At such a young age she has accomplished so much and she has only gotten started. Tools for Change is a growing organization that will only get bigger especially since it’s in such capable hands. Want to start your own organization? What are you waiting for, go ahead and do it. Want to make a change in your community? It’s possible, I know you can do it. Just remember it doesn’t take a village to make something happen, all it takes is one dedicated person.

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What is Tools for Change and what was the reason that you started it?
I started Tools for Change, because you can not tell young people to have hope when all they see is bleakness in their future. They need tools to have a better future. They need state IDs, passports, bank accounts, jobs and financial literacy. They need to learn to use social media as an effective networking tool. They need to know that money for college will be there for them. They need an organization that will supply the necessities to help achieve their goals. This is where Tools For Change comes in.


Please share where you see Tools for Change in the next couple of years.
Because I am getting ready to go to college, I would love to start a chapter wherever I am at. I want Tools For Change to expand into chapters all around the country. I also would like to have my own building.

When did you realize that you wanted to do something for your community and why?
I was the youngest volunteer in a hurricane Katrina relief effort and seeing so many homes destroyed made me realize I wanted to help people in general. I didn’t know in what area I wanted to help in yet, but I knew I wanted to do something for others.

How do you manage your time between Tools for Change, school and all your extracurricular activities?
It’s really hard and I barely get any sleep. The only way I handle all of it is by incorporating everything. I look at everything as the same thing, under the same umbrella which makes things a lot easier. The school I attend is also very socially aware and active so I get to discuss Tools for change with them. And even though I mostly keep to myself, the two or three friends I have help me out with everything. Keeping a calendar, which is a little nerdy, not only helps me remember things, but it also keeps me organized.

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Did being on the show Law and Order- SVU bring out any acting passions you might have or was it purely done to bring attention to the issue of sex trafficking?
I’m actually a professional actor since age four and it’s something I really enjoy. I get the opportunity to meet so many people and celebrities. Acting gave me the chance to build my craft, dive into different characters, and it was a great boost to see more of life. And although it’s fun, I have moved away from acting now that I’m older and moving into something I want to pursue in life.

Could you share with us how shutting down Lil Wayne’s music came about?
I work with the Emmett Till foundation and try to keep his name alive by going to schools and telling people his story. Emmett Till had allegedly flirted with a white woman, so her husband and his half brother beat, tortured, and dumped him in a river. Lil Wayne came out with a song comparing the beating of a woman’s female parts to the beating of Emmett till. The Till foundation had reached out to me so I could help them do something since I was young and I could reach out to other young people. Therefore, I reached out Mountain dew through social media and after 24 hours they contacted me with the news that they were suspending the tour he was doing using that same song. I was thanked for my work and received a letter. That day I realized that my voice had power and could make a change. I learned that young people can do whatever they put their minds to and we shouldn’t let others say that we can’t do something.

How did you feel knowing some of Lil Wayne’s followers might verbally attack you?
I didn’t care. I go head first into an issue without caring what people think or how they will feel about it. I knew people who are Lil Wayne’s fan, but I simply didn’t care. I felt that what I was saying was more important than what people might think or them bashing me. I’m going to tell you how I feel without letting others stopping me.

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Have you encountered people that have doubted you or believed you to be too young or naive to actually help? If so, how did you deal with it?
Being the youngest member on the community board is a lot of pressure because several of the members have been serving on the board for 10 years or more. They look at me as if I don’t know what I’m doing which is quite frankly pretty intimidating, but I always have to remind myself that I’m here for a reason and a purpose. I know what I’m doing and talking about. I face people who doubt me all the time and the best thing to do is know your worth because people are going bash you and not support you, but you have to support yourself. If you don’t you won’t make it far.

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Who is your idol or role model and why?
Even though my mother can get on my nerves, she is most definitely my role model. She has encouraged me to do things and taught me lessons that I will always carry with me. She has taught me to know my worth and value which is so important because a lot of young people let others walk all over them and tell them what they can and can’t do. She always tells me to stand up for myself and my beliefs because people will try to push me down. I learned to stand by people who believe and support me and that I shouldn’t be too quick to trust.

What is something you would tell other young adults who want to help the community like you have but don’t know how to start?
Identify an issue that is important to you and stays on your mind no matter what it is. Then do your research and find out everything you can about your cause. You don’t want others to say “you’re an activist, but don’t know what you’re talking about”. After you have done that, start working with other organizations that support your cause until you decide you want to start an organization yourself. One of the most important things you could do is know the benefits of social media. Used appropriately, it can be your best friend which is why it’s so important to keep your page clean.

Find out more about Tools For Change here!

Victoria’s Corner!

Hello Everyone,

Let me start by telling you how much I appreciate you. I don’t take it for granted that you take time to read what I have to say. It is Victoria Pannell_147humbling. We don’t take time to let others know how important they are to us and that is a shame. Everyone wants to feel love and wanted. There is no worse feeling than going to bed thinking you are not loved or appreciated. I know some of you are thinking, “What does Victoria know about that?” Well, I do know about it. I have had so many people to come in and out of my life that I equate it to a revolving door. I know I have to concentrate more on the good people in my life instead of the people that are no longer in my life. Why do we think about the negative more than the positive? That’s another subject for another blog and I don’t want to get sidetracked again. To put it plainly, I just want to thank you for your support.

I have missed all of you. It has been awhile since my last blog. In recent weeks, I have had three different topics I was going to blog about and kept changing my mind every time something new happened in my life. I started writing this blog in the beginning of April but I’m just now getting it in. This has made me realize that if you are all over the place something in your life is going to suffer. My mom says the key to multi tasking and staying sane is organization. Everything has to be in its place. Sorry to say, but I’m not neat. That is a real problem for me because my mom is border line OCD. One night when I became upset with my mom, I threw most of my stuff away. It was either throw everything away or cut off all my hair. By the time I finished throwing stuff away, my room was almost bare. When I woke up the next day and looked around, I felt so free! Gee, cleaning up is liberating! I’m still not neat, but I am getting better because I like how organization and neatness makes me feel. I started thinking about situations and people around me. Did I need to clean up there also? Yes I did. I can physically walk away from people or situations that saddens me, but my mind stays. Leaving the mind behind is where lies the problem. How can I use my mind to work on things that are important to me if it is stuck somewhere else? In the South, people say to kids, “Where your mind at child?” I understand that saying now. You are present physically but your mind is miles away. I have had quite a roller coaster ride in the last two years. It’s time to get off and bring my mind with me. I have so much I want to do personally and as a humanitarian. I have to stay focused on what’s here and ahead and leave the past behind. Mr Tyler Perry sent out an email to his followers about his studio golf carts giving off an alert sound when placed in reverse. He uses that to explain how important it is to move ahead in life. You can read it here AFTER finishing my blog, http://www.tylerperry.com/messages/your-past-and-there-no-future-it/ . Sign up for his emails. They are inspiring, uplifting and encouraging.

 

My mother has another twist to the whole mentally moving ahead debate. She feels that thinking about or revisiting our past once in awhile, and only briefly when you do, prevents a prolong stay there in the future. Let me give you an example. While traveling, you see someone that you have not seen in a couple of years. This person meant the world to you. You hug and promise not to lose touch again. No, no, no! Think about what happened in the first place. Did that person hurt you? Did that person disappoint you? You have to go back into the past and think about what happened so you don’t stuck in your past come the future. Get it? By revisiting the past it can prevent future mistakes. You go there briefly when necessary and get a refresher course for the present and future. One of the things that makes me happy in the moment is being excited for my future. That can also be a problem if you are semmett-till-and-his-mom-blk-n-wht-www.thundaground.tv_o busy planning for the future that you don’t enjoy yourself now. Do you know some people feel guilty when they are happy? Sometimes when I’m laughing or enjoying myself I stop. I think about young kids being sexually and mentally abused on a continuous basis. Who am I to be having a good time while slavery is still going on in the world today. I’m trying to adopt a new attitude. I might as well be happy, because I know I am working hard to make sure others are happy. Diane Sawyer once asked Ms Oprah Winfrey in an interview did she feel guilty when she leaves the poverty areas in Africa and come back to her luxurious surroundings. She said, “no.” I understand her answer. She doesn’t feel guilty about her blessings because she shares so much of herself and her fortune. I don’t look up to many famous people these days. Ms Winfrey and Mr Tyler Perry are exceptions. They are doing what I want to do, helping others in a huge way. I have mentioned this before in my blog. One way to feel better about yourself and give your life more meaning is to be of service. Find a cause that you are passionate about and help out!! The next time you are reading about something or watching something on television that upsets you, step out and become a part of the change you want to see happen.

 

I mentioned earlier that there were 3 different topics going back and forth for this blog. One blog topic was going to be the whole story behind my mother and I involvement with the campaign for Mountain Dew and PepsiCo to drop the tyler ads and sponsorship of little wayne’s tour. The Mountain Dew story hit just about every major newspaper and television talk show on Wednesday, May 1st. Well guess what. My mom found the offensive video and exposed it! Not being contacted by the media didn’t bother me or my mom. We were just beyond happy that we were a part of a team that brought about change. What bothers me is when people or an organization take the credit for something they didn’t do. Here is a short version of our involvement.

 

On April 29th, my mom spoke with the family of the late Emmett Till concerning little wayne disrespectful lyrics and Mountain Dew’s endorsement of his tour. Mom knew this was something I wanted to be involved with. For three years, I have been speaking about the dangers ofemmett-till-pbs violent and sexually perverted lyrics in rap music and the negative effects on young people. As soon as I came home from school, mom told me about the call. I was hyped and angry. It was sad that wayne could be so insensitive as to compare the badly beaten body of Emmett Till to what he violently wanted to do to a woman’s private parts. What’s even worse is being rewarded by a multi billion dollar company in the form of endorsements when you are that insensitive and socially irresponsible. Right after mom received the phone call she went into research mode. She found a PepsiCo press release that had just came out that morning! She found the press release very disturbing. http://www.pepsico.com/PressRelease/Mountain-Dew-Green-Label-Platform-Evolves-Through-Partnership-with-Complex-Media04292013.html. The press release was about the partnership with www.Green-Label.com and Mountain Dew. What she saw on the site had her grabbing the bible, praying for the future of misguided young people and for the adults that had sold their soul to satan. There were two ads that she called, “the smoking gun”. One video ad was Felicia the Goat with 4 black men in a line up and a white detective holding a Mountain Dew.

 

The other ad was Felicia the Goat in a DEWUI ad which means driving while under the influence of Mountain Dew. Mom contacted the Till family members with the links to the press release and green label website that contained the 2 Felicia videos along with other equally disgusting and stereotypical video ads. Just like the site had mom grabbing the bible, the videos had me grabbing the bull horn with new D batteries in it. I got my markers together to create signs that I was going to use for my protest outside PepsiCo in Purchase, NY. First of all, the ad represented everything bad that conscientious advocates have been fighting against. For example, fear of snitching, violence against women, black men mountain-dew-commercialin prison, fear of suspect retaliation, police misconduct, gang affiliation, victim intimidation. All the ingredients were there to further dumb down and negatively influence our young people. Come on! Do we really need this from some jack leg rapper that goes by the twitter handle @f_ ktyler. Really? Even more important and disturbing, we have multi billion companies that are giving black males likeross, tyler and wayne large, crazy money for being socially irresponsible. I’m out here collecting bottlesand cans to start up a program or foundation that will help survivors of trafficking in a major new wayand little wayne is being endorsed with millions for his verbal porn. This dude tyler is being paid to create ads that endorses every stereotype ever created about the young black male. All these great film makersand creative producers out here and tyler makes the cut with video ads that have set black people, especially black males, back 60 years. I know if willie lynch, eugene bull conner, george wallace and the kkk can stop burning long enough, they are going to high five each other on those

“_ _ _ _ _ _” that are keeping their dream of black suppression alive.

 

I was livid and restless. Something had to be done right away. I came up with ideas of how to approach Mountain Dew about their marketing of videos by tyler and their endorsement of little wayne. I contacted PepsiCo and Mountain Dew not knowing what to expect. It didn’t matter. I had to try. Working to get change feels better than complaining. Mom had already predicted a victory. I sent the video out on social media. My mother sent it to different organizations. The Till family hit up all their supporters and sent them the video ads. We worked together as a team to get change. I sent the video to PepsiCo and Mountain Dew via their twitter and facebook accounts. I also sent it to them in an email. Call me naive, but I could not believe the real top, top executives from a company like PepsiCo would want to be affiliated with ads like this. That is why I sent the link to the video directly to PepsiCo and Mountain Dew top personnel. I wanted them to take a fresh new look at this garbage and see the damage that it could do to their brand. Less than two days later I received an email from Mountain Dew. Before it was announced to the world on Wednesday, May 1st, that the “line up” video created by tyler was going to be pulled, Mountain Dew sent me an email taking full responsibility for the video and their decision to pull it. That wasn’t good enough. I told Mountain Dew by endorsing little wayne they were endorsing his insensitivity and social irresponsibility. Later on May 1st came the announcement that Mountain Dew was dropping sponsorship of wayne’s tour. Yes! Yes! Yes! The statement I received from Mountain Dew on their handling of the tyler video controversy will be framed and placed on my bedroom wall. If you go on the green label website it does not look the way it did on April 29th. It has been cleaned up considerably since that morning. Right after the announcement there was talk about companies dropping artists and also about wayne’s freedom of speech. I don’t care if companies drop every socially irresponsible artist out there. This was my response to a facebook post.

 

Nobody took away Wayne’s freedom of speech. I took up the fight because when his freedom of speech is verbal porn and disrespect to civil rights legends, I don’t believe he should be endorsed by large corporations. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean fat endorsements. The first amendment gives you the freedom to speak. It doesn’t say anything about protecting you from the consequences of being irresponsible in your choice of speech. When women and children are continually being victimized through lyrics it’s time for a tough stance. When children misbehave, parents take away something we like until we know better and learn not to do it again. PepsiCo did the right thing. Maybe other artists will not want to lose endorsements and be more responsible. At what point do corporations and the people say “enough?” Last year we had Too Short telling boys how to sexually turn on middle school girls. Rick Ross mountain Dewpromoting date rape. Wayne’s lyrics are verbal porn. Take away some of the money and some other rappers just might take notice. I’m hoping more companies follow Reebok and Pepisco and drop the artists dumbing down our children and communities Most of the kids in my school are influenced by these rap artists. The boys want to be like the male rappers, and the girls want to be the rapper’s “b” and “h”.

 

I, Victoria Pannell, age 13, was not afraid to go up against a multi billion dollar company nor against a rapper that wants to beat a woman’s vagina to it is unrecognizable. It takes a lot of praying to keep the faith and keep going. Sometimes I want to quit, then something will happen and I want to keep going.

Recently a senior citizen came up to me at a function with tears in her eyes. She said, “you are the young lady that spoke at the postal rally March 24th.” She was still working at the Grand Central post office and had attended the March postal rally. She didn’t have a computer to obtain my speech and wanted me to send her a copy. We just hugged and cried. I cried because she took the time to make me feel loved and appreciated. She was crying because I took the time to say, “Save Our Post Offices”. I’m not finished. I’m just getting started because my faith and strength have been renewed something fierce. I look at the email from a company with net revenues of more than $65 billion and I know my own strength. Never let anyone take away your self worth. Believe in yourself and what you can do. When doubt creeps in, tell it to take a hike. When you have been hurt a lot it is easier to just get in bed and pull the covers over your head. Get Up! Need a little help? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JseXP8-pLw

 

I had every intention to make this month’s blog light and not so serious. As you can see that wasn’t meant to be. The very first topic I had plan to blog about was my blue coat. Yes, my blue coat. The blue coat in the photo was given to me my Uncle Bobby when I was 5. It was way, way too big for me. I didn’t care. That coat represents love. Every time my uncle sees me during the winter he asks me if I’m warm enough. I could see him 3 times in one day and he is going to ask me each time if I want something to eat. The reason I was going to blog about my blue coat is because this article of clothing, like my uncle, has never let me down. I don’t have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction when I put on this coat. Bobby Blue Coat has been in newspapers, news coverage, television shows, commercials and rallies. It has been in 3 different educational systems, private school, catholic school and public school. If this coat was human and could write, it would be on the New Times best seller list. I wish I was as durable as my blue coat. It didn’t get too small for me this past winter when I put on weight. As I got bigger, my coat seemed to get bigger so I could still fit into it. How crazy is that? The beginning of April mom started spring cleaning. My blue coat was one of the clothing items that was on the hit list. We looked at the coat and started talking how it had been with me for 8 years. It is not in the garbage yet, but I know that is where it headed. I feel like crying just thinking about it being thrown away. I’m not ready to let go. The women in my family use to quilt. They didn’t throw away clothes. They would wash the clothes and cut it up in pieces to be used later for quilting. I’m going to hold on to Bobby Blue Coat just a little while longer. The second subject I had wanted to blog about was my dislike of shopping. Can you believe that? I’m 13 and I can’t stand to shop. I have only been on one shopping trip that I enjoyed. This past January in Atlantic City mom and I went shopping and had a great time. That is rare for me. The only reason I was going to blog about shopping is because people can’t believe that I can like fashion but don’t like to shop. Now that I think about it that subject is so not blog worthy. Let’s keep the people in Oklahoma in our prayers. See you soon and keep in touch via twitter or facebook.

-Victoria Pannell

Victoria’s Corner

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Latest | by — March 25, 2013

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So You Want To Be In Show Business

As I watchedphoto(10) the last 20 minutes of the Oscars, my mom asked me if I dreamed of attending the Oscars one day. My mom, who knows me so well, was surprised when I told her that I don’t think about it. I only watched the last few minutes of the show because I wanted to see if Quvenzhané Wallis was going to win for best actress. My mother said when she was growing up, watching awards shows was a way of escaping the loneliness of her early childhood. When I watch the awards shows, my favorite part is seeing the excitement of the nominees. I love seeing them so happy and cheerful. It makes me happy. When celebrities I have met, are up are for an award, it makes the show more fun to watch. When the movie, The Help, and it’s cast were nominated for a lot of awards two years ago, I was on pins and needles to see if they would win. I had attended SAG screenings and listened to the cast talk about their auditions and the long journey to get to where they are at. Most people don’t think about what it takes to get to the Oscars or my favorite, The SAG Awards. They see the red carpet, stars, fashion, and the press. They see the fairy tale. That is the way it should be to a little girl dreaming of giving her acceptance speech, a fairy tale. A few years ago I made a list of who I wanted to thank after getting my SAG award. It was just pretend but I still worried that I couldn’t include everyone! Now that I’m older, I don’t watch the awards shows with the same innocence. I’m wondering who Mr Denzel Washington has for an agent. Did Quvenzhane attend an open casting call for her movie or did a manager send her? Who did the casting for Django? Why didn’t I get a call to audition for a certain movie? My innocence, when it comes to show business, is gone. Show business is hard work and ruthless. It is not about how much money you can make. It’s about how much money can you make for the industry. My mom is a part time actress also. She does mostly background, but has done enough principal work to qualify for the union. We have worked on three projects together, a Bon Jovi video, Saturday Night Live, and a Pepsi commercial. This blog is to explain a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes of a young, nowhere, nowhere, nowhere near rich and famous, in and out of work, teenage actress. Of course I’m speaking of me. Because I didn’t want to leave anything out, I asked my mother to help me write this month’s blog.

 

People ask me all the time what it is like to be an actress. They think the acting business is a life of fame, fortune, and fashion. That is the life for some actors that have made it big. The majority of people you see in a movie or television show are extremely hard working, low paid actors that go to class after class to improve their acting skills and meet agents and casting directors. They show up as extras on a set and do the same thing over and over again until the director is satisfied. When I was much younger, I did background extra on different shows and movies and it didn’t seem like work. I saw friends on set and got to meet new people. I was having fun.

 

Whether actors want to admit it or not, they are divided into categories. You know when you are watching television and you see people walking, or eating in restaurants, but can’t see their faces? That is an extra or background actor. Some are union, and some are non union. The non union background actors have it the hardest. Non union extras make the leaQuvenzhané Wallisst amount of money, work long hours, and don’t get the appreciation they deserve for taking work that other actors sometimes don’t want. They can’t be doing it for the money, so it has to be because they love the business or have that dream of becoming a star. Now that I’m older, background is not as much fun as it use to be. I rarely do background or extra work unless it is for a commercial. Next, are your union background actors. Because of the hard work of the SAG/Aftra union, background actors get a lot more respect now than in previous years. They make more money and eat better on set than non union background. If there is a problem on set, they can call a union representative at anytime. Because it use to be sort of hard to get into the Screen Actors Guild, proud SAG actors will let you know in a flash, “I’m SAG.” Getting into the union is considered the first step toward making it big.

 

Then you have your commercial actors. Commercial actors can be union or non union. Here is the big difference. Union actors are not allowed to do a non union production whether it is film, tv, commercial, or video. Non union actors can work non union or union productions unless the project specially calls for all union actors. Although a production maybe a union job, they can still have certain spots for non union. It can be confusing. Commercial sets are totally different than film and movie sets. The set is smaller and most of the filming is done inside a studio. Less equipment and people are around so the vibe is more friendly. You feel like you are an important part of the production. For the background actor, the money is much better as a commercial extra than as a film or television extra. Most actors dream of getting their first union commercial. If a non union actor get a principal role on a union commercial, the actor qualifies for SAG. The same goes for film and television. If an actor book a speaking or principal role, the actor can become a union member. Just like actors dream of being on a weekly television series or getting the lead in a movie, commercial actors dream of becoming “the face” of a brand. Examples of how one commercial can change an actor’s professional career and put a lot of money in their pockets, the “Can you hear me now?” Verizon guy, Flo fromProgressive, All State spokesperson Dennis Haysbert, and the “That’s the power of Pine Sol” lady. They all started with the first commercial that led into commercial after commercial, money after money. When you become the face of a brand or product, you have hit the big time in commercial acting. Dennis Haysbert is successful in film, television and commercials. The extremely nice actor really has it going on. Being closely associated with a brand or product, limits you from doing a commercial for a similar brand or product. If an actor does a commercial for the Ford car company, he has to wait a certain amount of years before he can do a commercial for another car company. The wait could be anyway between 4 to 6 years. This situation is called, “a conflict”. If I booked a principal spot for Mr Clean, I’m not going to be able to do Lysol for at least 4 to 6 years. State Farm would never use the Flo lady in their commercials no matter how many years passes after doing her last Progressive commercial. Her face will always be connected to Progressive. When I was 7, I was a principal on a national Toyota Pruis commercial. I had to wait 4 years before I could audition for another car commercial.

You would be surprised at how many people ask me or my mom about residuals. It wasn’t until around 2 years ago that I started learning about the finances of the acting world. I still have a lot to learn. When you do a feature or principal role in a union produced film, television show, or commercial, you can earn residuals. I still get small residuals regularly for Wonder Pets and Sesame Street. I taped Wonder Pets when I was 4. I did Sesame Street between the ages of 4 and 6. That’s 9 years later! I have been going to SAG meetings since I was 5. When they talk about new contracts and pay raises, I’m lost. I’m just starting to learn about scale pay, meal penalties, wardrobe allowances, night diff, hazard pay, weekend scale, prop allowances, and travel allowances. All of this earns you more money. It is really complicated. One day I’m going to read the booklet from the union that explains all of it.

I’m going to tell you what I do know about, upgrade! An upgrade is like a promotion. Say you are an extra or background on a commercial. Doing the taping, you ended up on some footage where you are clearly recognizable. When the director or ad agency do the final editing, they might like the footage where you are recognizable and upgrade you to a principal. They may used some of the original footage for a variation of the first commercial and you will get paid all over again. An upgrade is like your birthday and Christmas all in one because of the extra pay and possible residuals. Your neighbors will hear you screaming all over the building. The more that commercial is shown, the longer it is on air, if it goes national from cable, if they use it for the internet, or print ads from the footage, it will be HUGE increase in the original amount of money you started with as an extra. I have been upgraded 3 or 4 times in 2 years. That is why I don’t turn down commercial background. Upgrades are possible with television and film but is extremely rare. It doesn’t happen a whole lot with commercials either so I have been blessed.

Slap BraceletsOne area of acting most people don’t think about is voice over. This is when you hear the actor but don’t see the actor. The voice over actor, that does the introductions for all the Law and Order shows, never have to work another day in his life. Talk about residuals! He gets paid for every episode of every Law and Order show every time it is on television! Most people don’t even know what he looks like. They don’t see him. They just hear him. He is Steve Zirnkilton, the “voice” of Law and Order. Alright, I confess. I only know because I looked him up for this blog. I have only one voice over credit. When I was 5, I let out a huge scream for Dr Miracle hair products. I don’t even remember it. Mom told me about it. She said it was on the radio for awhile. Voice over actors are in huge demand but it is not an easy field to break into. Going to voice over classes is on my to do list.

Let me get into the heart of all acting jobs, the auditions. This is the one area of show business that I really know about. An audition is when you try out for an acting job. Most commercials have an audition, then a callback. A callback is when the casting directors choose certain people from the original audition to come back in for a second time. A callback is usually the halfway mark to getting a job. Most principal work for television and movies have the first audition and then two callbacks. If you are being considered for the project after going to the callback, production will put you on what is called a “hold.” If you get the job, your agent or manager will call you and say those magic words, “you’re booked.” If you didn’t get the job, they will release you from your hold. For me, being on hold is torture. The terrible thing about being on hold is, you can’t audition or submit for a job that shoots on the same day as the one you are on hold for. If you don’t get the job that you were on hold for, you may have missed another audition that you might have booked. I go through different stages with auditions. Sometimes I go into an audition and forget all about it when I come out. Other times, I go into the audition wanting the job so much that I think about it for the next two or three days. After I get a callback, I wonder if I’m going to book the project. Most of the time I put the whole audition out of my mind because you can really drive yourself crazy with worrying. Let me tell you how it feels to go into an audition. It can be nerve wrecking. Even after 13 years of doing this, sometimes I step off the elevator and my heart will start beating fast. You walk into the studio and see so many people going for the same role you are auditioning for. I usually see the same people over and over again so I know what the competition is going to be like. When I see a fresh face, it is like school. Who is the new girl? Who is her manager or agent? How long has she been in the biz? Even more important, what is she going to be like in the audition? I soon learned to stop worrying about others in the room and concentrate on myself. When the casting director calls your name and tells you to come in, you better be prepared. If there are sides or lines, you better have them memorized. If you are not prepared, try too hard, is very nervous, it is going to come through in the audition. Sometimes I wonder if I’m good enough when I get to an audition. When a long time has gone by and I have not booked a job, I question my ability.

A lot of actors do not know this. Casting directors are responsible for calling you in to audition in the first place. After the audition, they send the tapes to the ad agency and director of the shoot. The ad agency and director of the shoot let the casting director know who they want at a callback. Usually the director and someone from the ad agency is at the callback. When it comes to background work, the casting director or casting agency usually do all the selecting of the actors for a project. What I don’t like is that computers have taken casting to another phase. These days you go on line and submit yourself for a project. A lot of work has been taken away from managers, agents and casting directors because of this. This has also produced a lot of “no shows”. A “no show” is someone that submitted on line to work background on television, a film or a commercial and then do not show up for the job. Commercials have very little “no shows” because they pay more money. The day of shooting, casting has to put out a call for a “rush job” because of “no shows”. A “rush job” is where you are called on the day of the shoot and only have a little bit of time to get to set. Because a lot of casting is being done on line, non union actors are replacing union actors. That is also why we have the problem with “no shows.” SAG/Aftra actors are very professional and show up for work. I have been in the SAG and Aftra unions since I was 4. Last year SAG and Aftra merged to become one union.

I have never worked Broadway. I tried out for the Lion King years ago. Out of a thousand girls from an open call, it came down to me and two other actresses. One actress was going to be booked for Broadway and the other actress was going to Vegas. I had a 66% chance of booking the job. I didn’t get it. That was the first time I ever cried over not getting a job. I have told by friends and their parents that Broadway is very hard work. Times Square becomes your new home. There is very little time to do anything else. I had a third callback for South Pacific but didn’t book that either. Show business can be very hard on your self esteem.

Now I’m going to tell you about getting to set and being on set. When a production is shooting in or around NYC, and the set is not in Manhattan, Brooklyn or the Bronx, transportation is usually provided in what is known as a transport van. Transport vans usually pick up actors in Manhattan on 34th street, Grand Central Station or Port Authority 42nd st. Most shoots are very early so you might be meeting the van at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning. For me, the worst part about being an actress is the early call times. Call time is the time you have to report to set. Some days there might be just 3 or 4 other actors in the van. Other times you could have up to 15 or more actors in one van. When actors meet the van early in the morning, there is no chit chat. Some will say, “good morning” and that is the extent of conversion. Most of the time everyone just goes to sleep. After the shoot, when you are taking the van home, there may be conversion with someone you hit it off with while filming. trailer-Perfect HolidaySometimes you are so tired you sleep on the way home also. Overall, there is not much conversion among actors riding together in the transport van. The only celebrity I can recall sharing a van with is Christina Ricci. It was on a return trip. She and the other star of the film had a great time talking all the way back to Manhattan. Nobody else said a word. I don’t know why we didn’t talk because Christina and the other actor were nice. The film was After Life. I was an extra. Mom never let me audition for rap videos and horror films or be an extra in them. When I received the call to be an extra in After Life, I had no idea what the movie was about. If I had known Christina Ricci was in it, I might have had a clue. Anyway, the shoot was in Long Island, NY at an old Victorian Style mansion. That day it was cold, dark and raining hard. It was a prefect day for a Christina Ricci movie. When we walked into the mansion, there were coffins everywhere. I mean coffins of all different sizes and colors. I was scared as could be. The mansion was set up to be a funeral parlor. Mom told me that I had to see it through. My mother had never made me do anything in this business that I didn’t want to do, never. This was the only time my mother ask me to do something I was uncomfortable with. My scene was a funeral scene. Okay now! I was the only black child there. Why did I mention race? The director gathered all the background children together to ask a question. “Who wants to be a featured extra by lying in the coffin?” Every hand shot up except mine. Are you nuts? No way was I doing that. He could have made me a principal and I wasn’t doing that. See why I mentioned I was the only black child there. By the way, a featured extra is when you do background but you might be recognizable or shown longer than usual for an extra. I recently accepted a featured extra role in a new film coming out next year. It had been a long time since I worked as a film extra. Since it was featured, I accepted the job when it was offered. I had a great time doing my scene with Sally Field. She is such a great actress. Even when we were not filming, she stayed into character. She was very nice to me.

The one thing that will make you feel like a star even if you haven’t reached that status yet is having a trailer on set. When you are a principal on a television show or in a movie, you often have your own trailer. Mom said I had my own trailer on sets a lot when I was younger. Although I have been a principal plenty of times, I can only remember having a trailer twice. A production assistant is there to take care of whatever you need. You are escorted to set. You have a different wardrobe and makeup artist than background. Sometimes you have food that is catered just for principals. When you have these type of roles and receive this type of treatment, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

When I see a friend (used loosely) or acquaintance on television or in a movie, I’m always happy for them. If I tried out for the same part, I sometimes talk to God and ask, “why not me? I have been doing this for a long time. When is my time going to come for the big part?”. Mom always tell me my time will come when the time is right. It is hard to have female friends in show business when you are young. You are always going up against each other for the same roles. The parents smile when they see you and say, “Good luck.” Now you know they don’t mean it because their daughter is up for the same role! When someone you have known for awhile gets a role that leads him or her to being a star, your relationship can change. You think about if you should even say hello on social media! Sometimes the new star and the mother might think you want something from them instead of realizing you are just saying hello. Even girls and their moms that have not made it big, get on the defensive. Moms of girl actresses are the worst. They guard auditions and callbacks, the name of their agents and managers, and upcoming projects like the Secret Service guards the President. The only thing other mothers have shared with us on a set is where the craft services is located. Craft services is where you go on a set to get snacks. It is usually water, fruits, nuts, cream cheese and bagels, chips and granola bars.

victoria transport vanMy mother had always been very open with information until recently. She always shared information while waiting at auditions. If she heard of a casting notice she made sure the parents she is friendly with knew about it. She told so many parents how to get their children into show business. Most of them have been really successful. To this day, she has never received a phone call or a “thank you” from a parent that she has helped. That is why she stopped telling parents about how to get their children into show business. Some mothers can even become vicious and cruel. They will do anything to make the playing field uneven. They will stoop to any level to make their child a superstar. I had a mom to fake an emergency when my time came to audition. That same mom erased my name from a sign in sheet. I have known moms to make calls to their agents and mangers to have another child dismissed from their client roster. Boys don’t have nearly as much drama as young female actresses. Most dads of the actors don’t get caught up in the pettiness.

Sometimes it gets really hard to keep going. Frustration sets in. I don’t have the type of jobs now that I had a few years ago. Since I’m not sent out on auditions regularly like in the past, I’m not working much. I have been doing this a long time. I know I deserve a manager or agent that will send me out when something fits my description. I can’t tell you how many times mom and I have heard how slow it is for girls my age. Every time I turn on the television, I see girls my size and age in commercials, film and television. If they are working, it can’t be that slow. When agents and managers have a new favor of the month actress, they tell you things like “you need new head shots” or “the business is slow right now”. The real deal is they are concentrating on your replacement and hoping you will get frustrated and just leave. Even top actresses never take it easy because they are always worried about being replaced. Because I’m tall, I have been told to concentrate more on modeling than acting. Now I have a top modeling manager and I’m being told the same thing. “This is a hard age to send you out.”

 

In August I separated from my manager that I had been with since I was 10 months old. I saw them as family and thought they felt the same about me. After 4 months without an audition, they didn’t feel like family anymore. I went to a large bi coastal agency and they didn’t send me out for 2 months. Now I’m with another manager, and I’m going through the same thing. You can’t book a job if your manager or agent is not sending you out on auditions. Sometimes smaller is better when it comes to managers and agents. You don’t get lost among 300 other tweens and teens the larger agencies and managers represent. Because I’m so involved into activism now, I don’t concentrate as much on not getting auditions. I do know that the more young people see me on television or in films, the more they will listen to my messages on stopping human slavery and saving the post offices. That’s just the way it is. I’m taking drama classes, working on my singing and practicing karate and sword more than I use to. All I can do is to prepare myself for that role that was made just for me. I have a lot of patience. The one thing I have learned is to replace my fear with confidence.

I’m happy that my mom and I don’t spend our days dreaming of how to get me on a Disney show. So many times mom and I are told that we should take advantage of all the people we know and ask for a hook up. That will never happen. We will never use a friendship like that. My mother is the type that doesn’t like to ask anybody for anything unless it is for a community event, charity or a humanitarian cause. We would never impose on a friendship for a television or movie spot. I have had celebrities to tell me they are working on something and they want me to be a part of it. I have never called to follow up on promises and I hope I never will. If someone wants me for project, they know where to find me. The one thing mom and I are known for is having integrity in a business that can be ruthless. Let me give you an example. My martial arts instructor is like a father to me. I love this man so much. I’m with him at least 4 days a week. About 3 years ago, Kushinda was going to be a producer on a film Wesley Snipes was producing. He is Mr Snipes’ martial arts instructor also. Mr Snipes had insisted on no casting directors. He and Kushinda were going to conduct all the auditions and do all the casting themselves. Taimak, the martial artist and actor from Last Dragon, was also called to help with auditions. There was a huge turnout in Chinatown for the auditions. Mom was helping Taimak keep everything in order by separating actors and martial artists into groups. Kushinda and Mr Snipes were upstairs where the auditions were being held. Where was I? I was in the line! Believe or not, I had to wait on line like everyone else if I wanted to audition. My mother made sure that I did not get special treatment because of my close relationship with Kushinda. I think that is taking integrity to the extreme but that’s my mom for you.

These days I meet more celebrities from my work in activism than I do from acting. When I see them at various events, I give them a big hug and keep stepping. Sometimes I take a picture so I can share it with my family on facebook. I know this is a very long blog, but I want teenagers to know that show business, for the most part, is not the glitz and glamor portrayed on television. Only a few actors have that type of life. Although I view the business a little differently, I still enjoy it a lot! The next time you are watching your favorite show on television or Spiderman in the movies, take a little time to think about the regular actors and their hard work behind the scenes to make the magic happen. Then ask yourself if you really want to get into show business.

Saturday Night Live, Victoria with Rihanna and Andy Samberg
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbefuj_saturday-night-live-snl-digital-sho_fun#.UUkuSDfcZFI

Victoria and her mom on Bon Jovi video–Superman Tonight

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9k-k8609go

-Victoria Pannell

Victoria’s Corner

“Victoria, have you finished your speech?” I hear this question almost daily from my mom. The answer is usually the same, “no”. Recently, I showed her my speech for the radio segment I do on Saturdays, and she totally lost it. Everything about it was wrong. I stood there feeling like I never wanted to write another speech in my life. When I first started doing speeches, it was fun. I loved writing, and public speaking was taking it to another level. In the beginning, I was very blunt in my speeches. My mom showed me how to get my point across without hurting someone’s feelings. I would write, “You should stop having children. Get off drugs, and go to a rehab.” Mom would rewrite it like this, “Our men need to start being responsible when it comes to having children. Young people need their fathers, drug and alcohol free.” See the difference. According to my mom, if you make the audience you are trying to reach angry, then they will not get the message. When I was writing that particular speech, I really didn’t care about the drug dealers, the drug users and the dead beat dads’ feelings. I was thinking about all of the little children that had been suffering from the day they were born. I liked my speech better, but I changed it.

 

Now almost a year later and mom is still correcting some of my speeches. I felt like such a failure when she was pointing out the mistakes. I was also angry. She’s worried about being tactful when it comes to other people’s feelings but not mine. While she was still fussing, I interrupted loudly and said, “Don’t you think I want to be able to write like you? Don’t you think I want to do this all on my own? Do you know how this make me feels. I hate asking for help.” My mom did something she hardly ever does. She stopped talking. She looked at me with a shocked expression. I’m praying please God don’t let her kill me for screaming and raising my voice at her. In an unusually calm voice, she says, “Victoria why didn’t you tell me this before? I would love to give you writing lessons. I will get you professional help, but I would love to do it until I find a good class for you.” It took a few minutes for me to understand what she was saying, because I was expecting the “if you raise your voice at me again you will be a homeless 12 year old”, speech. Because I admitted that I needed help and really wanted to learn, my mom was excited.

 

The first step to being better at anything is the desire to want to be better. I want to be an investigative reporter so being a good writer is critical. I’m really looking forward to having classes with my mom. I hope she has patience with me. A teacher needs patience. She has already given me my first lesson. When I watch television, I block out everything. I’m like a zombie when watching a Disney movie. That is the reason my mother does not let me watch much television. First lesson was to concentrate on writing with the same intensity I have when watching television. Block everything out except the subject you are writing about. I hated my first lesson.

The second lesson was to get back the passion that I use to have for writing and speaking. Go back to what made me want to do public speaking in the first place and recapture that moment. That moment was when I was 10, and I gave a speech at Denny Moe’s Superstar Barbershop in Harlem. I cried when I told the audience that I didn’t have a father to take me to the Father/Daughter Dance. When I finished the speech, a man came to me with shades on because he didn’t want anyone to know he was crying. He said if he had heard me speak earlier in his life, he would have made better decisions. That’s when I knew I could use my voice to make a difference. I love talking about that day because it was such a powerful moment in my life.

 

People always ask me how I got started at the National Action Network. I had been going to the National Action Network all my life. Nobody knew I was alive except four women from the women’s auxiliary committee. May, 2011, the youth director asked me to play Rev Al Sharpton in a mock protest. She gave me a short speech. I had 15 minutes to become familiar with it. My mother didn’t think I could do it and offered another boy $20 to play Rev. Sharpton. He told her no, and I took the stage. I knocked it out the ball park. The NAN staff members noticed me for the first time. About three weeks after that, I became Dominique Sharpton’s intern for the summer. July, 2011, I started speaking on Rev Sharpton’s Saturday morning rally. The first week I was so nervous, I couldn’t eat breakfast. By the 3rd week I had no fear, and doing the radio segment was something I looked forward to every week. People congratulated me and told me that they listen to me every Saturday.

 

What I have learned is that people will build you up and then pull you down. I don’t know why. Sometimes people think if a friend or love one starts to do well in life they will not be the same toward them or they will not have time for them.

People that don’t want other people to be happy are usually unhappy themselves. That’s a shame. Misery loves company is not just a saying. Unfortunately, it is a true statement. We really have to start being nicer to each other. Anyway, back to writing and me questioning myself if I want to be an investigative reporter after all.

When people ask me if I write my own material, I hate that I can’t say I do it all on my own. That is the first question most people ask me. It makes me feel like they don’t think I’m smart enough to do it on my own. My mother made me feel a lot better when I told her how I felt. Her response, “My job is to help you and guide you. I know what you are going to say before you say it. I know you better than you know yourself. You know what you want to write and say, but sometimes you need help in putting it out there. That is where I come in. The President has a speech writer. Your auntie is one of the best legal secretaries in NYC, but she ask me for a advice when it comes to writing a letter to school or to a company about bad customer service. Most parents come to me when they need a reference for their children. People that have been speaking for years still ask me to go over their speeches. I can write, but I’m a horrible speller, so I go to your auntie when it comes to that. As long as you try to do it on your own first, I will be here for you. I will be there for you when you need help on your college essays. I will help you, but I can’t do it for you.”

 

My third lesson, instead of trying to remember a long response, get a tape recorder and record the person. Also a tip from mom, put the recorder under your pillow. Listen to speeches while you are sleeping so it will go into your conscience. I have not tried that yet. I will let you know if it works. My homework assignment is to read The Speeches of Malcolm X. The reason, to be the best, study the best. Nobody was better at speeches than Malcolm X. “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” What a line!

When it came to my June blog, I didn’t know what I wanted to write about. So many times when I’m walking down the street or at school I can think of a thousand things I want to blog about. When I get home in front of the computer I go blank. I call it, “blog block”. Mom told me to blog about what had just happened with us, word for word, thought for thought. Let everyone know that it is okay to ask for help.

I’m going to make sure I’m never again short on material. The next time I’m walking down the street and I see something I want to write about or speak on, I will jot it down right then and there. I have a lot of future material like, the negative effect legalizing marijuana will have on the black community, the stupidity of Adidas slave sneakers, my campaign against child sex trafficking, and writing letters to bring back Family Matter reruns. Writing is going to be fun again. See you in July.

– Victoria Pannell

Victoria’s Corner

Hello Coremag readers,

 

I apologize. I’m a month late for Victoria’s Corner. The only thing my mother hates more than being late, is an excuse for being late. So okay, I will not give you an excuse. I will give you an explanation. From April 10 until April 15, I was in Washington DC for the National Action Network annual convention. Since I’m the Northeast Regional Director, I was required to be there. It was 6:00am wakeup time and 11:30pm bedtime every day. There was almost no time to do anything else but convention business. On April 14th, the last day of the convention, I met the editors and founders of thecorereader.com, Eden and Ellisa Oyewo. They are beautiful, smart, and so nice. They are, “the real deal”. My mom and I spent some time with Ms Eden and Ms Ellisa, and it hit me that they were excitingly living their dreams. They shared some of their future plans with my mom. You could see the excitement on their faces, as they talked about their goals. They have a road map for the future direction of thecorereader.com, which they share, and a road map for their individual careers. All week I had been around people that wanted more for themselves and more for their people.

 

On April 15, we arrived home to see the same people standing around outside on the corner, or gathered in the park across the street. What a difference from when you are around people of empowerment to when you are around people of acceptance. Empowerment is mapping out a course for your life and going for it. Acceptance is whatever life is giving or taking from you at that moment, you just accept it. My mother has a great analogy for this. You get fired or laid off. You accept it, and go sign up for unemployment, food stamps, and anything else that is being given to the unemployed. You didn’t want the job in the first place. You didn’t want to be the only one of your friends to miss the House Wives, Bad Girls and Basketball Wives marathons on television. Okay, now let’s look at empowerment. You get fired or laid off. You go to your holiness spot. “God, Lord, Jesus, Budda, Allah, or Jehovah. This has sprung up on me. I know with my faith and your guidance, I’m going to make it. This is my chance to do what always wanted to do. I’m going tomorrow to sign up for my much deserved unemployment benefits. I’m going to apply for the food assistance program which I know is going to be temporary. Then I’m going back to school, find a job I really like or start my own business. You got this because I believe in You and I believe in me. Amen, I pray”. My mother can always come up with good analogies.

When I came back to my community it was like I was seeing the acceptance minded people for the first time. Without visions or plans, you really are just wondering around in existence. I see grown ups that have never left New York City. They get up and do the same things day in and day out. They have either lost their purpose, focus or their faith. We have adults that have never held a job. They have never known the excitement of having money they have earned. They have never had a credit card or bank account. They have never lived in their own place. Some don’t have identification beside the government benefits card. That is so sad. Why have we stopped dreaming? Why have we stopped living?

I can’t wait to grow up to live out my dreams. Recently a friend of mine moved into a beautiful one bedroom apartment with a terrace. I had so much fun furniture shopping with her. All I could think about was decorating my future dorm room or my first apartment. I thought about the colors I wanted and where the television with surround sound would be. My friends would come over for movie nights or to play cards. It wasn’t as much fun thinking about the dorm room, because I know that comes with a roommate. I’m still excited about college, roommate and all. I want to attend Harvard or Barnard College. My grades have to go up a little bit to get into either, but I’m determined. My mother is quick to tell me to stay out of trouble so I can fulfill my dreams. Sometimes when I’m playing with my American Girl Doll, Joy, I pretend she is my little girl. I want two children when I’m around 35. I want to have one child and adopt another. Of course my little girl will have a father to carry her on his shoulder and call her princess or baby girl. My little boy will have a dad to play baseball and teach him to be good to females. I love thinking and dreaming about my future. Every once and awhile I get scared that something will get in the way of my dreams. Then I tell myself, “forget that”. I’m going for mine.

Fear is holding so many of us back. We have to step out on faith. These days I find myself fascinated by Harriett Tubman because she didn’t let fear stop her. I’m sure she knew the danger she was placing herself in. The dream of, “freedom”, was stronger than the nightmare of slavery. Faith replaced her fear. My mother has a friend that has 3 children. The friend had lost a prestigious job, was unhappy and facing a life of permanent government assistance. She didn’t want that for her children. She went on line, found an apartment in another state, left everything behind and took the Amtrak south to her new life. She had absolutely no furniture for the new place, only a little bit of money and just enough clothes to fill up 3 suitcases. Three years later my mother’s friend has a new career with perks like expense accounts, health insurance and business travel. She has a car and is building a new home. Her children are doing wonderful and are very involved in their new school. She tells everyone that it was all faith.

Mom is quick to point out faith without works is dead. I know I have to get good grades and stay our of trouble. That part belongs to me. Hold on to your dreams. Don’t lose your faith, and don’t lose your focus. We get so caught up in nonsense that we forget our purpose. I want to stop sex trafficking of women and children. I want to bring awareness to the mass killing in the Congo. I want my own foundation. I want to save our post offices from being shut down. I really want to decorate my first apartment. I can’t let foolishness like light skin, dark skin, short hair, long hair, peer pressure, he said or she said, who likes me or who does not like me, get in the way. I have causes that need awareness and future color schemes to pick out. Talk to you in June.

-Victoria Pannell

Victoria’s Corner

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Latest | by — February 20, 2012

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Hello Coremag readers,

I’m beyond thrilled that I have been invited by the Coremag staff to write a monthly blog. I don’t take it for granted that I have been given an outlet to reach thousands of young females on a monthly basis. The thought of it also makes me a little nervous. How many girls are interested in the opinion of a preteen 12 year old? Well all it takes is one. If something I write can make a difference to just one young person than the jittery nerves will have to take a back seat. My faith has to replace my fear. Yet as I set in front of the computer typing and asking my mom for help I realize the jittery nerves did not take a back seat. They were front and center. Using one of my favorite spiritual lines, “my faith has replaced my fear”, wasn’t working as I battled what would be my first blog. I’m constantly told by my mother that first impressions are so important. So you know my first blog has to be on point. “Mom, please help me.” As she gives me that, ‘this is your project’, look she asks what is the biggest issue I face as young girl. Ahh there it is, bullying.

I can’t look at the news anymore when it comes to young people killing themselves because they have been bullied. Maybe I have a hard time watching or reading about bullying because to think that someone can be driven to that state of mind by another classmate is so frightening. As someone that has been bullied a lot in school, I don’t like to think about it getting so bad that it could drive me to suicide.

I have come to the realization that it seems to get worst in high school. The bullying in middle school has been bad enough so that is not a comforting thought. It does not matter that I have been on television. It does not matter that I’m a youth leader for Rev Sharpton’s National Action Network. It does not matter that I’m a child. What matters is I know like most of you what it feels like to be bullied. What we have to be careful with is not to become like the people bullying us. This is not the time to apply the saying. “ if you can’t beat them join them”.

 

Some times the kids that are being bullied do become bullies themselves. They feel if they are doing the bullying than maybe the bullying against them will stop. I even very, very briefly thought about becoming friends with the mean girls in school so they would stop picking on me. I realized all I would be doing is making someone else’s life miserable and being a part of the problem instead of the solution. I hate to think that I said something to someone else that brought their life down instead of saying something to bring their life up. Also I would be a homeless 12 year old bully. My mother doesn’t play that. If there are any girls reading this blog that bullies, tease or pick on other people please stop.

 

You might think you are being funny because other kids in the class laugh when you say something mean to someone but you are not being funny. You are being cruel. The kids that laugh when you bully someone only do so because they are glad they are not the subject of your bullying. That nervous laughter is a sign of relief that it wasn’t them being picked on. How miserable someone must be when making fun of people is their only form of communication. Kids are losing their lives because a miserable person have bullied them to the point of not wanting to live anymore.

 

How many kids have switched schools because they could not deal with the teasing anymore? How many young people’s lives have been turned upside down because of bullying? Social media has taken bullying to new heights of despair and made it easier for bullies to pick on others even when they are far away from their victims. Let’s try to understand what makes a person a bully. Usually they are just unhappy with themselves. Because they are miserable they want someone else to be miserable also. Hence, they pick on someone so they can see the look of misery in that person face and that makes them feel as if they are not the only unhappy person in the world. It also gives them a false sense of control and power. Bullies also pick on people to get attention. If saying something mean is the only way for you to get attention then you need to find a new outlet. Pick up a skill or hobby and become good at it. Trust me, positive attention feels way more better than negative attention. If you are a bully ask yourself why you feel the need to make someone unhappy. Then don’t be afraid to find help so you can stop being a destructive person. There is nothing wrong in asking for therapy. It is better to get mental help now than to be dead later because you picked on someone that had nothing else to lose in life and they decided to do you harm.

 

Recently a girl called me a freak and the whole class laughed. Yet this freak, as she called me, stood at the National Mall in our nation’s capital, Washington DC on October 15th and delivered a speech before thousands on national television. How ironic that now I’m blogging about her and other bullies like her. She had an audience of a few. I have an audience of thousands. I have empowered myself against bullies. Calling me names doesn’t change what is on my birth certificate which is Victoria Pannell. It doesn’t take away my sense of who I am. I will not let it stop me from being the creative person I was meant to be. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t always feel as strong as I do now Bullying still hurts, but I deal with it in a different way. At one point I was bullied so much I didn’t want to go to school. I don’t get bullied as much but it still happens. It helps that I have great mentors and other young people around me that rather uplift than put down. Not everyone has that circle of support. Create that circle. Find other victims of bullying and befriend them. There is comfort and strength in unity. It also empowers me when I realize that bullies are not born but created by circumstances and pain in their life. I refuse to be bullied now the way I was before. I will do something about it if it gets to the point where it interferes with my life.

 

There are different levels of bullying. If you are bullied to the point of not wanting to go to school, have a drop in grades, suffering from depression or heaven forbid, you no longer want to live, tell someone. The first place to start is the principal. Put the school on notice that this is happening to you. If you don’t have a parent that will do something find some adult that has always been kind to you and notify them. You can also try your pastor, priest or bishop or someone at your place of worship. My mom has decided to take a more direct approach. If I ever get bullied again the way I use to, she is taking the bully, their guardian and the school if they didn’t help, to court. It is not that hard to start a lawsuit. You don’t need a lawyer and it is not expensive. People get paid thousands everyday from someone that caused them emotional damage. And we all know bullying is very emotionally damaging. If even if you don’t win you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did something about it.

 

Our educators need to stop bullying from happening in the classroom. If they have a bully in the class they need to do something about it. My teachers will call my mom for me talking in class but will not call authorities on a bully. To that I say, “No more”. The US Department of Education and local Departments of Education have to be held accountable for letting bullying continue. If they can create laws that stop prayer in schools nationwide they can create laws that will stop the bullying.

 

To Coremag readers don’t let a bully destroy who YOU are. Years from now when people are calling you the next Oprah or Warren Buffet, that bully that picked on you is still going to be simply known as that bully from school. To the bullies, head into a new direction and lift young people up instead of putting people down. If you have mistreated someone, say you are sorry and ask if you can start fresh. You just might end up meeting your new BFF. Even if the person you mistreated doesn’t become your friend after you apologized and stopped bullying him or her, you will probably sleep a lot better at night. Thanks for reading and see you next month. 

 

-Victoria Pannell