Brittany Snow is one of those celebs who I’ve enjoyed onscreen — in the “Hairspray” remake, “Prom Night,” a singular episode of “Gossip Girl” during a Lily Van Der Woodsen flashback — but didn’t think much about. But it turns out, she’s actually a really cool person with a big heart. Brittany works closely with several organizations to promote mental health in young people, based on her own experiences being bullied in school, and later, as she told People magazine, battling anorexia, exercise bulimia (instead of throwing up, you exercise too much), body dysmorphia, and cutting.
In light of the recent suicides by LGBT youth that have cast a light on bullying, Brittany teamed up with The Jed Foundation, a suicide prevention group, and MTV for the “Love Is Louder” campaign. She’s urging people to tweet inspirational messages like “#loveislouder than hate” and “I’ve felt isolated and hopeless, but #loveislouder than the pain.” Celebs like Pink and Vinny from “Jersey Shore” have spoken out with “Love Is Louder” videos as well.
After the jump, I spoke with 24-year-old Brittany about “Love Is Louder” and her experiences being bullied.
Why are you so passionate about the “Love Is Louder” campaign?
I’ve always been very passionate about mental health topics and it’s kind of been the one cause that’s interested me. I’ve always been involved in the Jed Foundation and other foundations that have to do with that. When I found out about the suicides that had gone on in September, I went on Facebook and Twitter and found that there was an outpouring of people who were passionate about what had gone on but they didn’t know what to do with their opinions or their experiences, especially because a lot of the opinions about LGBT rights, because the kids were gay. I thought to myself, “Yes, this is amazing. This is a gay rights topic, but at the same time there are lots of people who’ve been lost to bullying, or struggle with depression, that are gay, straight, bisexual, old, young …” It really doesn’t matter; it affects everybody. Maybe there should be a place for people to go that doesn’t have to do with a specific group. So I called my friend Courtney Knowles, who works at the Jed Foundation as executive director, and he came up with the idea of using a movement. He just said we could start something online virally and work from there. So we created #loveislouder and we wanted it to be a viral thing where people could look on the website and see celebrities, non-celebrities, gay, straight, grandparents, children … you knew they understood the same topic.
A bunch of celebs and politicians are doing the “It Gets Better” videos, which send a similar message, but is explicitly aimed towards LGBT youth.
I heard about the “It Gets Better” campaign. It’s amazing. But I’m not gay and I struggled with bullying and depression and various other things that have to do with mental health and I thought maybe other people who had gone through that that weren’t gay [would need something]. This is a topic that can really include anyone. And [Love Is Louder] is not just about bullying. Do you feel alone? Do you feel different? Some people don’t necessarily have a bully picking on them, but they’re picking on themselves: the bully in their head that tells them that they’re stupid. We wanted to do something that incorporated everybody. So we’ve been working together a little bit, I hope. Nothing is supposed to take away. If anything, we’ve wanted to add to the other movements and charities that believe in the same things we believe in.
So how do you get celebrities to speak out for the “Love Is Louder” campaign? Are they all your friends or people you’ve worked with?
Thankfully, all my friends who lent their support, I was kind of making them do it. I called everybody that I knew. A lot of my best friends I got to do it. Joanna Garcia, Lance Bass, Kellan Lutz, Vanessa Hudgens. I got pictures from Jessica Stroup and Roxy Olin — a bunch of my friends that understood what I had been through and they believed what I had been doing. From there, people started to get involved on their own because they believed in the same cause as well. Then it just took off and became Drake and Pink and the kids from the “Jersey Shore” and a lot of people that I’ve never met before that I’m grateful became involved.
What has been your own experience with bullying?
It was not just really good times. And that led me to have many other struggles later on, especially mental health issues that I’ve shared at different times. It really did shape a lot of my growing up and how I thought about myself later on. This has always been something that I’ve thought about because people don’t understand how we treat each other really affects who we are for the rest of our lives. What’s interesting with this campaign and starting this, probably everybody that I talked to had some sort of story of being bullied, or they were a bully, or they were depressed at one point, or they had a parent or friend who dealt with depression. I think it really touches everybody, so it’s something everybody can really come together on.
I write about depression pretty frequently on The Frisky and it always surprises me how many people leave comments or write me emails where they say, “Thank you for talking about this.” It seems like people still feel a stigma for feeling depressed. Has that been your experience?
Definitely. I actually just spoke at a mental health conference called Active Minds yesterday and one of the things that we talked about was how there’s really a stigma around [mental health problems] and that’s really unfortunate because people can talk all day long about all these really important subjects that have to do with the environment and politics — and that’s extremely important — but when it comes to what’s going on in our own heads, people shy away because they don’t want to look a certain way. It’s really unfortunate because everybody has some sort of struggle, or they know someone who does. I hope we can change the conversation on that, because I would have liked somebody to stand up and say I wasn’t crazy or alone. Or that this is not something anybody should be ashamed of. Celebrities go through it just as much. No one is perfect and everybody goes through something. I can go through 10,000 things I’ve heard or seen of people that are open about their struggles when it comes to this topic. I don’t think anybody should be shy when it comes to talking about it because it’s not for attention. It’s for helping other people.
As an actress in Hollywood, you must feel some pressure from the industry about your appearance.
Definitely. I would be lying — I think any actor would be lying, guy or girl — if I said my appearance wouldn’t be a factor when it comes to [my] work. Your looks and your body are your product, which sounds really weird, but you are the person that’s on the screen and you’re playing a character that’s supposed to look a certain way. I’ve definitely done things where people have told me to lose weight, gain weight, to cut my hair, grow my hair, fix my skin. It does affect you. It would affect anybody. It is something that probably did affect me more when I was a teenager and when I was going through my hard times. [Snow told People magazine that at age 14, as an actress on "Guiding Light," she weighted only 87 lbs. and at age 16, when she was on "American Dreams," she weighed 100 lbs. and began cutting herself.] I definitely took it more to heart. Now I understand it a bit differently and if somebody asks me to lose weight, I can put it in perspective and do it in a healthy way. Just taking care of yourself in general — the more I do that, the less I even worry about it. It’s just not in my mind. There’s so many other things that are more important than being at the gym for hours.
So how can people get involved even if they’re not celebrities?
We would love people to get involved if they believe in the same thing we do. You can upload a video on LoveIsLouder.com; you can upload a picture. We’ve been putting it on our hands and different art projects and stuff. And there’s more stuff to come: We’re selling shirts at Urban Outfitters; we’re coming out with a jewelry line, a book and a documentary.
Wow, what will the book and documentary be about?
We just got approached to start it so we’re figuring it out. The book will have snippets of different personal stories. We want to make sure there are different passages about how to treat other people and how to treat yourself, understanding bullying, understanding depression. We want to tell people what you can do, little exercises that help people daily and have helped me: being grateful, getting outside of yourself, doing something for somebody else, which is maybe the most important part of feeling better about yourself.
What other acting projects are you working on?
I’m on a show right now called “Harry’s Law,” which is a David E. Kelly show with Kathy Bates and we’re in a law firm that’s also a shoe store. We’ve created this shoe store and we take on cases. That’s coming out in January and February. Then I have a movie called “96 Minutes” with Evan Ross, which is coming out next year. And then I have a movie called “Janie Jones,” which is coming out next year, with Abigail Breslin, Alessandro Nivola and Elizabeth Shue.
Thanks so much for talking to us!
Image via Splash News