A Cyberbully Stalks Emily and Kay!
By: Lynn Barker
Emily Osment (of “Hannah Montana”) and Kay Panabaker (“Ordinary Family”) tell us how to survive that ultra-meanie who might be making your life miserable!
Since her long stint on “Hannah Montana”, Emily Osment has concentrated on her music but she also took a key role as a bullied teen in the ABC Family TV film “Cyberbully” which airs this coming Sunday at 8:00 PM (Eastern and Pacific time). Her best friend in the film is played by Kay Panabaker.
Kidzworld was stoked to sit down recently with Emily and Kay to discuss this super important subject. Some kids and teens have actually killed themselves due to the horrible pressures of bullying, especially on the internet. We are also learning about the real life friendship these gals share.
Kidzworld: This is really important. Bullying has always existed but now it goes viral on the internet to far more people. Did you research that?
- Emily Osment: Oh yeah, absolutely. My mom’s a teacher and she hears all kinds of stuff about bullying and sees kids go through it. Just the other day she had a parent come in saying “My child is dealing with some extreme bullying situations that are leading him to suicide.” I talked to my mom for many, many hours about what she sees. I was really interested in this film because the character takes such a journey. There is such a growth in the mindset of this character from where she starts and where she finishes.
- On top of that, the press and campaigns that are happening about this are making a big deal of cyberbullying as it should. The more people know about it, the more chance it has of getting better.
Kidzworld: And Kay, if Emily is Taylor, the bullied girl, who do you play?
- Kay Panabaker: I play Samantha, her best friend and I try to help her cope with it but, as she becomes more and more introverted and alienated, I feel hurt by her unresponsiveness. What’s nice about this film is it focuses on Taylor’s journey but you see the journey of the bully and her friends and family and how it affects everyone.
Kidzworld: Have you guys had friends who have been cyberbullied?
- Emily: I haven’t. I’m lucky. When I was in high school, we didn’t have that pressure to bully online. If you were a bully you had the courage to do it in person. Now it can just be so anonymous and that’s what this movie focuses on; the anonymous bully and how easy it is to be mean.
- Now, when we put ourselves out there on Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to see that. For me, I don’t care. I deal with it with humor but I worry about my little cousins. My cousin Anna is 12 now and I’m waiting for the day when she’s (hurt by that). Her mother won’t let her be on Facebook. I don’t have Facebook and that’s really where it starts. Just take yourself off. It’s easy to avoid that.
Kidzworld: Any more advice to teens and kids on cyberbullying?
- Kay: It varies by the person. If it’s easier for you to ignore it, try it that way. Or, try confronting the bully one-on-one, not aggressively but just say “Hey, this sucks. Could you at least not target me?” Sometimes you can make friends with your bullies and if it’s really severe and if you’re really struggling, go online. they have “stompoutbullying.org and “deletedigitaldrama”. There all these different avenues you can take to anonymously figure out the right path for you.
- Emily: In your head have something you can say to a bully if you are approached with it so you’re not caught off guard. That’s the main thing or make a funny comment or just walk away. That’s how I dealt with it. I just brought humor to it. It is extreme and it can really affect your life as we see in this movie. If you are trying to figure yourself out, you don’t also need to be berated by a bully.
Kidzworld: Emily, now that “Hannah Montana” is over, are you looking for a new series or just doing films?
- Emily: Right now, I’d like to focus on film. I chose this movie because it’s a role I’d never done before and this character is unbelievable and it was a very lucky opportunity. I was ecstatic when I learned Kay was on it. Also, right now I’m focusing on music and touring and trying to keep it no so crazy because for six years it was Monday through Friday hell and on the weekend it was press.
Kidzworld: So for both of you what was the hardest time in your careers so far? Choosing to be an actress can be hard and horrible.
- Both: Yeah! (laughing)
- Kay: I think now is a tough time transitioning. I’m 21 years old but I look like I’m sixteen. I can’t look like I’m twenty-one.
- Emily: Lucky thing because you can work forever!
- Kay: I know so many people my age who look younger but desperately want those older, edgy roles and I’m not there emotionally. I don’t want to go there yet so it’s trying to figure out what I want to do with my career and my life. This is a tough age. From the time you are 10 to 25 or even 30, you are trying to figure out what to do with your life. That’s an immense amount of pressure but especially in this business where work is so questionable. It’s really tough. I’ve seen my sister (Danielle) and my friends go through it. It’s such a tough age.
- Emily: I think the hardest time is the one between jobs. “Okay, I’m not working. What now?”
- Kay: Should I still be an actor?
Emily: But it’s good because I put off college to work and I’m doing things out of order but I’ve got so much life experience and I’m able to say that and not sound pompous. I’ve travelled and feel lucky that my work has taken me where it has. It has made me who I am. I love this industry. I don’t care if there is time in between. It’s expressing myself through music and acting.Kelly Rowan and Emily OsmentCourtesy of Muse Entertainment
Kidzworld: This is a summer TV movie. Tell us your favorite summers ever.
- Kay: I would have to say when I was working on “Summerland” forever ago. It was such a lovely experience. That crew and cast were so kind of one another. It was wonderful. I would relive that for the rest of my life.
- Emily: Best summer experience? Last summer. I was on The Soda Pop Tour with five other bands and it was this traveling carnival of musicians and everybody just wanted to play music, have a good time and party and sit around and talk. It was an unbelievable journey and we did a tour all across Canada. It was great. I had friends in Montreal so I got to hang out with them. I was in love. It was a great summer. It was 45 people living on a bus. I would relive June, 2010 forever. (Note: Emily performs a song called “Drift” for the movie).
Kidzworld: Are you musical, Kay?
- Kay: No. I’m not musically inclined but I love to listen to it. I hadn’t listened to Emily’s album until we got up to Montreal on this movie.
- Emily: We were working out at the gym and I’m like “Is that me?” So funny.
- Kay: It is the best workout music. If you drive next to me you can probably hear my loud music and it’s her! I’m not just saying that. I love her songs. They are really good.
- Emily: She made Meaghan (Rath), our other co-star on this film, listen to it too. I’m like “okaaaaay”.