COM0011 – Blog #3 – Using Fame and Social Media to Spread Awareness

Some celebrities dabble in social media, some ignore it, others have somebody run theirs for them. Then there are those that take a personal interest in their online presence and not only interact with the fans, but try to use their status to enact positive change.

I first noticed this after following Stephen Amell, the lead actor from the show Arrow. It was one of the first times I had followed an actor and I was pleasantly surprised to find out, as much as you can through social media, that he seemed to be a pretty interesting and down to earth individual. Through the time I’ve followed him, I’ve appreciated the fact that he seems to appreciate the success he’s had and the fans that follow him. I’ve enjoyed living a bit vicariously through him as he’s used his status to check off a bucket list that my friends and I would do if we had the chance. From taking batting practice with the Jays to wrestling a pay-per-view match with the WWE, starting his own winery to a major role in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, Amell has used his success to follow his dreams.

The thing that really caught my eye though, was the his online F— Cancer campaign that he joined thanks to a photo taken of him while his mother was undergoing chemo. The results were beyond anything he had expected and it not only led to his fans supporting him there, but to him supporting one of his friends, Jared Padalecki, one of the lead actors from the show Supernatural.

Padalecki, in his own words, was doing well in life. In his mid twenties, headlining a successful show, family and friends that he loved and loved him in return, but he was suffering from depression. As his understanding grew about what he was going through, seeing what Amell had accomplished with his campaign and the prompting of friends including Amell, Padalecki decided to launch a campaign of his own, aimed at spreading awareness and support about mental illness. Joining forces with co-star Jensen Ackles, the two work hard to help reduce stigma about mental illnesses. This was very inspiring for me as this is a major component of what I do where I work on a daily basis. Their efforts to help spread this message and their appreciation for the love and support their fans have shown them is a great reinforcement about the good that can come of celebrities looking to make a difference with the power that social media affords them.

It doesn’t stop there of course. Their Supernatural co-star, Misha Collins, is hyper active on social media and is a co-founder for Random Acts, a non-profit organization aiming to spread kindness around the world, one random act at a time.

Nathan Fillion of Firefly and Castle fame (and a local favorite as he is from Edmonton) has used his celebrity to try and get his fandom to support the causes above as well as his birthday wish every year of bringing clean water to people/areas who otherwise don’t have the resources to do so.

Recently, Michael Landsberg started his own campaign to put an end to the stigmas surrounding mental health. His passion for the subject started with his own struggles but as he’s grown, his #sicknotweak campaign has inspired so many and it is fantastic to see the success that he’s had with it already.

Thankfully, there are so many examples of celebrities using their fame to help further causes like these as well as companies like Bell who are doing what they can to make the world a better, safer and more understanding place as well.

And who can forget, the viral sensation that was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Who do you follow that has inspired you in some way you weren’t expecting? Has somebody you followed to see if you might get a sneak peak or two into their projects ended up showing you a charitable side that surprised you? Thankfully, I can answer yes to both of those questions numerous times now and I hope that trend continues.

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