|Chart Courtesy of MarketingChart.com|
The words, “believe in yourself”, have always played a strong part in the character and essence of celebrity journalist Shaun Robinson. The phrase infuses her professional pursuits, which have taken her around the world, and anchors her charitable activities that help engender a greater sense of self among a new generation of girls and young women. Needless to say, we’re awed and impressed by the way she uses her status as a journalist to the stars to help encourage women of all ages to love themselves just the way they are.
Her best-selling book, Exactly As I Am, provides readers with empowering advice about developing a positive self-image. Robinson reinforces the concepts of personal empowerment and developing a strong feeling of self-worth through her multi-media messages and fundraisers for organizations, such as Girls, Inc.
Robinson recently allowed us to ask her some questions about her wonderful charitable endeavors and commitment to helping girls and women accept themselves without compromise:
|Picture Courtesy of Shaun Robinson|
You launched your “One Girl, One Voice — A Million Ways to Make a Difference” campaign earlier this year. Please tell us a little bit about what inspired your book and video, Exactly As I Am?
I was inspired to write my book, Exactly As I Am, because I wanted girls to know that everything they need to believe in themselves and develop a strong self-esteem is right inside of them. It doesn’t come from being popular, being skinny, being rich, or having a certain skin color. It comes from, as Oprah says in my book, “… knowing that you are valuable because you were born.”
Because I interview celebrities for a living, so many girls ask me about the stars they see on TV, in the movies, or on the covers of magazines. They want to know if “so and so” is as beautiful in person as she is on TV, or if their lives are as perfect as they seem. I wanted girls to know that nobody is perfect and that everyone — no matter how rich or famous — has feelings of self-doubt now and then, just like you and me. I wrote, produced and directed the video, Ten Rules for Girls with Strong Self-Esteem as a mini rulebook for girls to follow. All the “rules” came from the dozens and dozens of teen girls I interviewed for Exactly As I Am. I love it because it’s girls giving girls advice like, “I will never stay in a relationship with a guy who disrespects me.” That is so important!
Your job is so glamorous. How do you convey your message to these young girls? With so many negative media images of young women today, please tell our readers about how you’re using your media influence to bring awareness to girls and their families?
My mom has always told me to use my platform for good — never make it about me — but to make my mission about helping others. And that’s what I’ve always tried to do. I am well aware that the media, in general, must take responsibility for the many images girls see that make them question their own self-worth. Being in the entertainment industry, it’s a constant balancing act for me and I try never to compromise my integrity. Reporting on entertainment and your favorite stars is definitely fun, but it’s when girls internalize those images and use them as a measuring stick for their own value and how they should act — that’s where the danger comes in.
As a celebrity, do you find it’s easier, or more difficult, to effectively impact the lives of your target audience?
Certainly as a celebrity, I have a voice that is easier heard than if I wasn’t in this position. I want to make sure I use that voice for positive change. That’s why I started the One Girl, One Voice: A Million Ways to Make a Difference movement. In my book, we talk a lot about “giving back” and that one of the quickest ways to true self-esteem involves taking the attention away from yourself and putting it on someone less fortunate. We want to get one million girls to pledge that they’ll use their voices to “change the world.” I want to inspire girls to volunteer their time to various causes and pledge to make the lives of others better.
With the advent and popularity of social media versus traditional media, have you seen a tremendous, monumental change, regarding effecting positive change in the world?
Social media can be a wonderful thing and a not-so-wonderful thing. Cyber-bullying is on the rise and we must find a way to stop it and make people responsible for the things they put online that can hurt others. But, social media can be a powerfully positive force in helping others. When we all band together and promise to change the world, nothing can stop us.
Where do you see your campaign, say, five years from now?
Five years from now, I see the One Girl, One Voice movement five million girls strong! We want to thank Shaun Robinson for her generosity and for taking the time to share a little about her world-changing pursuits with us and our readers. What an inspiration she is and what a magnificent gift her campaign is to the next generation of young women. Thank you Shaun, from the bottom of our hearts, for using your voice for change.
Writer’s Note: This video, courtesy of Shaun Robinson, captures her passion for positive and empowering self-images.
A Story for Inspiration and Ann Tran’s Final Thoughts
Twitter represents a powerful medium that anyone can use to inspire, inform and educate. I shared Shaun Robinson’s video, Exactly As I Am, on Twitter and one of my followers shared it. He sent me a direct message and thanked me for the link to the video; informing me that he intended to share it with his daughter. I suggested he share part of our conversation with Ms. Robinson as well, since she is very engaging. He did. And the next thing I knew, I saw a picture of a signed book held up proudly by his daughter from Ms. Robinson displayed on John Feskorn‘s page.
With social media becoming such a pervasive force in our culture, it presents an awe-inspiring, powerful way to change the world — one tweet at a time. How are you using Twitter, or other social media platforms, to change the world? Share your stories below. For more information on Shaun Robinson and her charitable activities, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.
While many celebrities lend their support to worthy charities, some go above and beyond by lending their time, energy, funding, and even blood, sweat, and tears to the causes they hold dear. Oprah founded and funded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007 to provide educational and leadership opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds. And two years ago, Bill Gates made the world’s largest ever single charitable donation when he pledged $10 billion to develop and distribute vaccines to children.
In this circle of charitable celebrities, you’ll find noted businesswoman and public relations pro Heather Robinson, the wife of former NBA star Cliff Robinson. One of the sports world’s most active and involved philanthropists, she supports charities with an emphasis on education, scholarships, and poverty. This assistance also extends to natural disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. All of this has been a catalyst for the Robinson Network, her family’s new philanthropic endeavor.
In fact, she used her most recent birthday party to collect more than 1000 gifts for kids through Toys for Tots. But giving up one of her special days is not a tall order or a rare event for Heather. Charity is both her work, and her signature. Why? A strong compassion for others, and a belief that using one’s influence to make a lasting, positive impact is crucial.
The old saying “Come from a point of service to everyone you meet” could have been written by Heather Robinson. To her and her husband, just like in basketball, winning is a team effort, and people around the world who need a hand are part of everyone’s team.
You’ve done lots of charity work for the NBA and NFL, and participated in a lengthy and impressive list of celebrity fundraisers. What is the most rewarding aspect of giving back?
The compassion I feel for others is a strong trait of mine, therefore having the ability and desire to “give back” in some way large or small benefits my soul. I love to see people smile.
Tell us a little bit about some of the charities you’ve supported over the years.
First of all I praise everyone out there that has a charity, and is working to help mankind. It takes a special person to devote themselves to philanthropy. My husband and I have donated our time and money to several charities over the years. Educational programs and Scholarships for low income families are very important to us, along with helping impoverished communities in the United States and abroad. After the devastating earthquake hit Haiti two years ago my husband accompanied Haitian friend Jimmy Jean Louis of Hollywood Unites for Haiti to access the condition of the country while I stayed back making phone calls after phone calls soliciting supplies and donations. I visited the country last year and met with several organizations we support in Haiti. They are doing a great job and it has inspired me to continue on my path of philanthropy.
How helpful do you find platforms like Twitter to some of your social good initiatives?
I like using Twitter. It has been extremely helpful to my business. It’s given me the ability to voice my initiatives quick and easily. Aside from the business networking, I have made “twitter friends”. I love the positive tweeters. They brighten my day and make social media more enjoyable for me.
With respect to philanthropy, name some of the things you believe we should be paying attention to moving forward: trends, interesting people, and fundraising ideas.
I don’t believe you have to be wealthy to give. It’s not always about the money. People should pay attention to their surroundings. What you see in front of you. You can become a mentor to a child or volunteer at charity events and soup kitchens. A few years ago I signed up to be a bone marrow donor. There are many ways to help someone in need. Blood drives and organ donations are great ways to “give”, and you could save a life! A very simple way to fundraise with little effort is to start a Food or Clothes drive. Poverty right here in America is extremely high and the numbers keep growing. If everyone would spend ten percent of their time “Giving Back” to society the world would be a much better place.
|Heather Robinson and Cliff Robinson|
Speaking of social media…a lot of celebrities use it because it puts them in direct contact with their fans, the causes they support, and helps them control their image. What’s your take?
The Cons of using social media are crazy fans and pushy people who can bombard you with requests or try and belittle your efforts or work. But, the pros definitely out weigh the cons. Celebrities are able to link with other professionals and can interact with fans on more personal basis. Another advantage for celebrities using social media is that it measures their popularity in numbers, via follower. In return it can secure them a high-profile endorsement deal. Social Media has become one of the most important deal points for brands, talent agents and even PR agencies to consider when negotiating contracts. The best thing of all is: no misquotes (laughs). Just make sure your posts don’t come back to haunt you.
Philanthropy is a serious commitment. How are you involving your family?