By: Emily Scagel/The Rainbow Times–
Singer-songwriter Dani Shay has much more than her appearances on reality TV shows “The Glee Project” and “America’s Got Talent” to be proud of these days. She is also the co-founder and spokesperson for Be More Heroic, an empowering anti-bullying campaign. First rising to fame from YouTube with her Justin Bieber parody, Dani strives to create positive changes by inspiring others through her music and work, and is well on her way to making her dreams become reality.
Emily Scagel/TRT: What is “Be More Heroic”?
Dani Shay: “Be More Heroic” is a PRO-Love, PRO-Compassion, PRO-Active campaign that I helped to start with a great friend of mine (Justin Chase), as a way to counteract the fear, anger and violence that is so prevalent schools right now.
Q. What do you do to “be more heroic?”
A. In addition to sharing my music and putting myself out there to the public, other things I do to “be more heroic” are:
– I always strive to better myself, raise my awareness, and increase my understanding of human consciousness. I find that, by doing these things, not only does my quality of life improve, but I also feel more equipped to help others create their dreams as well.
– I try to have compassion for everyone, including the people who say or do the things that are considered “bad” or “mean”. When I feel resistance toward someone, I use the “compassion exercise” from Avatar, or other exercises I’ve learned, so I can become altogether more loving, and less judgmental.
Q. Why is a campaign like this necessary?
A. Campaigns like “Be More Heroic” are necessary because I feel we are all hungry for more love, compassion, understanding, and true connection. The violence, bullying, depression, and suicides in our schools (and the whole world) are all occurring as byproducts of a deeper issue: We’ve separated ourselves from one another, believing somehow that we don’t all have similar needs, challenges, and feelings, and my hope is that this campaign will encourage the youth to be more empathetic, engaged, and proactive.
Q. How do you bring the ideals of the campaign to your music? To your life?
A. Well it’s funny, the music actually inspired the campaign (and my life inspires the music). It was my song “Superheroes” that initially sparked something in my friend Justin, who then brought the initial idea of this campaign to light. Together, we collaborated on our cover video of “Pumped Up Kicks” as our first BMH project, and have since been moving forward. These ideals are who I am, so naturally they just come through my music, and my life. It all flows together, toward my greater goal of inspiring people to see that so much joy is possible when we open our hearts and minds.
Q. Why did you want to be on “The Glee Project”?
A. Well, I feel like Glee is doing a great job of increasing peoples’ tolerance and acceptance, by exposing them to new kinds of people and ideas, while also giving young “under-dogs” characters they can relate to. I feel like the essence of Glee lines up with the essence of my music, even though our styles are somewhat different. The whole point is to not only entertain, but also give people hope, and I love the combination of those two things.
Q. Characters of “Glee” bring unique elements to the show and strive to educate mainstream audiences about inclusivity and diversity. What would you have brought to the show? Why is this representation necessary?
A. I wanted to play an androgynous character who enjoys flirting, and makes people question everything they thought they knew about themselves, especially their sexuality. I would encourage my love interests to look beyond “straight/gay,” and “male/female” labels, and dive deeper into what it means to really love a person for who they are. I think this representation is necessary because a lot of people feel an unspoken need to label and define themselves (and others) by their feelings, rather than just being open to explore. It adds an unnecessary pressure to life. Labeling something only limits our perception of it. The truth is, everybody is different, and every connection is unique, and that’s the kind of message I would’ve liked to bring to Glee.
Dani Shay will perform at the Rainbow Riverfest, as well as appear at Diva’s Nightclub for a special meet and greet in the evening (doors open at 8, reduced admission with Riverfest wristband. Visit www.rainbowriverfest.org). For more information about the “Be More Heroic” campaign and Dani Shay, visit www.bemoreheroic.com and www.danishay.com.