V MAGAZINE – The actor and co-founder of A Starting Point discusses partisanship, youth activism, and the importance of empathy.
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“I knew I had to begin work on [my political engagement platform] A Starting Point after Trump got elected. I disagree with a lot of Trump’s policies, and I personally have a very strong stance on that, which I vocalize on my social media. But my biggest concern is that his methodology is designed to divide. He has never once made an effort to bring us together. [A Starting Point] is designed to inform people so they can take a side.
“[As an actor], the lack of expectation from me [in the political world] actually played to my advantage. When no one expects much of you, it takes the pressure off! It’s more of an uphill battle in terms of getting the ball rolling, because people do a bit of a double take—‘Who wants to interview us?’ But now that we have established what we’re trying to do, it’s gone pretty smoothly.
“I think we are on the cusp of a really motivated, driven generation of young people who are very awake and connected. It’s such a platitude, but they really are the future. It’s always the students, isn’t it? Whether it was the civil rights in the ‘60s or today, it’s always young people [working toward change]. With every younger generation, they care less and less about the archaic social norms that people before them are trying to preserve. Now, more than ever, young people are involved in shaping the political and social landscape. It really is like a potter’s wheel and these young voices are molding our future.
“Regardless of Hollywood’s leanings [to the left], there’s ticket buyers across the spectrum. I may not be blackballed from Hollywood for having emotions that spike, but people might not turn up for my movies. You have to understand that you might be alienating a part of your audience. There’s a time and a place for rage, and I think that’s a last resort. You can just cast a wider net by saying, ‘What do you think? Get involved and form your own opinions.’ I’m trying to find more effective ways of coming together. I model it after the way you operate within a relationship. If you want a relationship to work, you have to listen and understand what the other person is thinking and feeling, even if you disagree—and work on finding commonality. As good as it feels to shout your opinion, you garner more results with a more empathetic approach.”
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