Exclusive: Benni Cinkle on “Gotta Get Out” and Anti-Bullying Organization – ThatGirlInPink.org
Benni Cinkle might not be a name you’re familiar with, but we hope you will be soon.
You might recognize Benni as “That Girl in Pink” from Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video, but now she’s making a name for herself. At the young age of 15, she has already written a book (That Girl in Pink’s Internet Survival Guide) and founded her own anti-bullying non profit organization called ThatGirlInPink.org and is now using music to spread her message.
We talked with Benni all about the new single, “Gotta Get Out,” and about the amazing work she is doing.
“Gotta Get Out” has a very strong message. What do you hope listeners take away from it? I hope they feel inspired to break whatever chains they feel are holding them back.
Inspired to be themselves and to accept others just as they are. I hope they feel empowered to get out and do whatever it is that their heart is calling them to do, wherever it might take them. In the music video—which is on YouTube (imthatgirlinpink)—I play a girl who knows that she can be more than what is expected of her. She dreams of travelling to big cities, like New York, Los Angeles, and Paris. While making the video, we actually went to these places to show that it really can happen. It happened for me!
Do you have any plans for more music? I’ve been given quite a few songs to consider, but have turned them all down so far. For me, music is a hobby. If a song with a good message comes along, maybe I’ll record it. But what I’m most passionate about now is talking to kids that reach out to me and making sure they are okay. So for right now I’m focusing on my schoolwork and my nonprofit, That Girl in Pink Foundation, which is dedicated to the prevention of teen suicide (thatgirlinpink.org).
You’ve dealt with the issue of cyber-bullying, which is a very important issue at the moment. What advice would you give to people dealing with this issue? I have a several pieces of advice. First of all, just because someone says something about you doesn’t make it true. When someone is mean to you, it says more about what is in their heart and often doesn’t even have anything to do with you. So don’t let who they are define who you are. Secondly, talk to someone you trust about it, preferably an adult. Sometimes hearing things out loud really helps to put it in perspective. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, please email me (email@example.com), Facebook me (www.facebook.com/bennetcinkle) or tweet me (@benni_cinkle). I respond to everyone. Most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP HOPE! There is always a bright side and always something to look forward to!
You’re only 15 but you’ve already accomplished so much. Can you tell us a bit about your non-profit, ‘That Girl in Pink’ and what inspired it? There are a few reasons I decided to start my non-profit and dedicate it to the prevention of teen suicide. First, teen suicide has become an epidemic over the last few years. Second, I have a history of teen suicide in my family, and I know firsthand how important it is to have someone to talk to when things seem overwhelming. After the Friday video, there were all these kids reaching out to tell me their stories and ask for advice. I realized that I wanted to do whatever I could to help them, and I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. I believe that we lose too many teens to suicide and that hope is the antidote for despair. My mission is to never let someone give up hope.
You must hear a lot of inspiring stories. Is there one that stands out for you? Yes! I have a few good stories! One of my favorites is about a kid who emailed me after my anti-bullying presentation at his school. He wrote that on his way home from school he saw a younger kid getting bullied and was about to walk by when he remembered what I had said in my presentation. He then went over to the bully and stood up for the victim. He was so happy to have helped someone. It made me feel good to know that my message had actually changed the circumstances for someone that day.
Many kids sometimes feel like they don’t make a difference, but you are definitely proof that they can. What advice do you have to kids out there to encourage them to get involved and make a difference? I like to help people on a very personal one-on-one level. When kids contact me, I encourage them to make sure their friends are okay, because a lot of times we have friends who are struggling with something. I think helping friends is a way to make a difference. So I tell them: “Keep being a good listener and make sure your friends know that you are there for them. A lot of times they just need someone to talk to and know that someone cares.” I also give them the warning signs to look for in case a friend might be in crisis. For kids that want to get involved on a broader scope, I tell them to join me on a walk for charity or organize something at their school. I really like when people want to help others, because it also does a lot for their own self-esteem!
Looking to the future, maybe 5 years, where do you hope to see yourself? Well, my plan is to remain in regular school, go to college, and one day go to law school. I really like debating issues, defending the underdog, and fighting for things I believe in. So I hope that in five years I will be getting ready to apply to law school. In the meantime, I will continue my non-profit work and stay focused on school.
“Gotta Get Out” is currently available on iTunes, here: http://bit.ly/gottagetout
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