|Meeting the Prime Minister of the Bahamas|
Q Your story mentions that you were bullied/ostracized at school for being: 'too tall, too skinny, too weird' - amongst a lot more 'tags'. Did this apply throughout your education or just primary or high school?
A Verbal harassment was mostly in my younger days, when I was very vulnerable and it died down in middle school and a lot towards 11th grade in high school but until then, bullying was definitely present.
Q Looking at you now can you think of any further reasons that you might have been singled out and picked on by other students?
A I was always working for a show in a Long Island theater and got easily labelled as the theater geek. Professionally working or not, they will pick on you if you're in a world that they don't understand. I certainly wasn't in with sports.
Q Was your harassment only psychological - as in name calling etc or was it ever physical?
A I used to be reluctant to tell this story, but knowing it helps other victims out there was enough motivation for me to share it on my 2013 tour. In 5th grade, gym we were playing basketball and someone who was AWFUL to me since one wanted to guard me. Then - out of nowhere - when the teacher wasn't looking, they punched me. In the face, I know, rough - I'm like: 'Wait - what?' and that's how my nose broke. When I toured in 2013 on the east coast schools and facilities would tell my manager that the kids wanted a specific story. The first time I shared it I cried because of the memories it brought back - but now I'm immune.
Q If you had your time again, do you feel there is anything you could have done about it?
A I wish I wasn't so hard on myself and didn't believe the taunting. I wish I could have realised that I did nothing wrong and sometimes for victims, that just happens. But I shouldn't have captured the spiteful energy and I was surrounded with.
Q Presuming that you felt brave enough to report your nightmare, what was the reaction of the authorities?
A I wasn't. I thought it was my fault. I believed I did something wrong, when I was just deemed as uncool. The authorities sometimes even asked (when I was really little) if everything was okay. I once stood up for them, as messed up as that sounds. If nothing is done, victims of bullying WILL become victims or abused by their own peers and after a while, it tore me and my confidence completely apart.
Q Do you feel that the abuse and nightmare you suffered at the hands of your bullies has left an everlasting scar?
A I have a bit of a dark side because of it, but any negative energy that was passed onto me no longer gets taken out on myself. I, instead, cut myself slack and replace the self hate with love and empowerment - and a burning passion to help others in my situation.
Q In your opinion, is bullying in the USA increasing or decreasing?
A Increasing, because of a tougher, more stressful economy. Parents want the best for their kids and often lose sight of what is important - like instilling kindness.
Q Do you feel that the schools and other educational institutions could do more to help combat this problem?
A Absolutely. Kids must feel loved and included - and valued. Teachers only look at grades and I for one felt like a square being pushed into a circular mould. It didn't work and that made it very, very hard for me to fit in. Instead of fitting kids in this small hole, why don't we create new ones for them to walk right through with ease?
|Meredith at work helping and advising|
Q What about the government? Could more be done there?
A Absolutely. Schools should have a more open minded approach and accept that not everyone is the same. Governments should value a more liberal arts education system that doesn't set some non-academic kids up for complete failure.
Q Do all schools in the USA have anti-bullying policies? If so, how effective are they?
A Not all. I visited a school just based on the students' requests, but the rest were through the programs. To the ones without it - IT IS SO IMPORTANT! And I hope I can make an impact on the schools in America.
Q In your case it doesn't seem likely, but do you feel that most bullies are, in fact, cowards and their actions really result from situations at home?
A I think bullies are doing it as a result of some insecurities. Sure it may start at home, but a lot of bullying is also a result of peer pressure and wanting to fit in. Kids, I hope, know and learn after they see me, that being cool isn't everything - being yourself is much more powerful.
Q You are now using your experience to channel your talents toward acting on this phenomenon, to let others know they are not along. This is incredibly admirable. Exactly what made you start doing this?
A Once I was 14, I went from a musical theater actress to a part time CMA model. Big change for me - and the way I was treated. Since I was so used to being taunted all the time, it inspired me to get my feelings out through song. I told my best friend Arianne about it and she told me that I should use my platform to share my experiences. As mu music (the song 'Celebrity') got big online, my voice grew too. This whole process is to fulfil my initial goal, of being the role model that I never had.
Q What are you hopes and plans for the future, regarding bullying?
A I hope that my next hit is either the game or a song I'm doing in collaboration with Charlie Willson - both mean a LOT to me and I hope the world hears them once released! Also check out my movie: 'Red Head Randy', a film against bullying. It's a scary one - just a fair warning!
STOP PRESS - BREAKING NEWS - STOP PRESS - BREAKING NEWS.....
MEREDITH HAS TWO NEW SINGLES COMING OUT. SHE IS WORKING WITH XAVIOUR SIMMONS, SON OF DMX, ON A RECORD CALLED: 'UNFORGETTABLE' AND ANOTHER SONG SPONSORED BY CHARLIE WILLSON - ABOUT ANTI-BULLYING.
WATCH THIS SPACE.